Why are parts so expensive?

I have a Whirlpool dishwasher that’s about 12 years old. The racks that hold the dishes are corroded and broken. The jagged edges are a hazard to users of the machine. The dishwasher works well: the only problem is the racks. I called Whirlpool who referred me to an authorized distributor who quoted me a price of $377 for the three racks.

I can buy a brand new Whirlpool dishwasher today for $360, less than the price of the racks.

Given the age of the dishwasher, it makes economic sense for me to buy a new dishwasher rather than replace the racks. But the bigger picture is that if I do what is in my best economic interest, a usable dishwasher goes into the landfill, which is just not a good thing. This is not a rant against Whirlpool because the problem is everywhere. I needed a new rubber seal for my refrigerator door—about half the cost of a new refrigerator.

A fellow ran into the back side corner of my car at low speed a couple weeks ago. The repair bill (fortunately paid for by the other guy’s insurance) was over $3,500!

I have a wristwatch that my grandmother gave me at graduation. Just having this watch serviced (cleaned and oiled) costs more today than the watch cost new. These days watches, radios and televisions are much more reliable and don’t need as many repairs, but when the time comes for a repair, chances are that the repair is not economically feasible.

Growing up, my family was in the repair business. My father repaired watches and my uncle repaired radios and televisions. They learned from my grandfather, who had a sign in his store: “We fix everything but a broken heart.”

If we as a society are going to get a handle on our trash, we need to address the issue of the cost of repairs.

About Kevin

Just an old guy with opinions that I like to bounce off other people.
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7 Responses to Why are parts so expensive?

  1. charlie says:

    I think the main problem is that those of us who ‘instinctively’ repair stuff have noone to pass that knowledge on to. My son and daughter have very little interest in make-do-and-mend (as we used to call it) although my daughter is handy with the tools when she puts her mind to it. Kids don’t repair their own push-bikes, cars are too dificult to self-repair for the most part. And as you have found, user-repairs are just not supported by manafacturers. I had a grass strimmer (weed-wacker) which stopped working. The problem? Brushes in the motor had worn. Could I get new brushes? Not a chance. Madness!
    Charlie

  2. Thomas Brown says:

    I hear you. We just had a nice microwave go up… probably a blown magnetron. A shame, as the entire rest of the unit was clean and perfect. Controls. Carousel. Door. Plug. All good.

    Replacing the magnetron would run ~$150. Not to mention running the machine to a repair center and back. Or, worse, shipping it. There is almost no way to justify repairing it. So to the scrap yard it goes.

    What a way to run a railroad.

  3. Tt says:

    It’s because they charge what they want to. They want you to buy that new appliance. As mentioned above manufacturers do not want consumers repairing their own stuff. Even though a monkey could repair most appliances. Manufacturers are thir to make money on the appliance you bought and the parts for when it breaks down.

  4. Jeffrey Hall says:

    Before you take any appliance to the landfill, remove the electronics. There is a market for control boards. That microwave may have a good transformer in it. Hello lichtenberg figures! I salvage what I can. Not a fan of ebay but there is someone out there looking for that oven knob you can’t find anywhere. That’s exactly how I ran into this blog. Oven knob for a stove my aunt cooked up. 41.00 plus shipping. What!?!?!? The little switches for oven light etc, spst two terminal, cheap stuff. 17.00 a pop. I bought a bag of 20 equivalent from amazon for 7.00
    Repairing the machine is easy, finding OEM parts is a challenge.

    Have a good day.

  5. Luis Ramentas says:

    Here’s a great example of ridiculous mark-ups. I have a Whirlpool induction cooktop. It blew a fuse. I took it apart and found the blown fuse. Looked up the part at Whirlpool parts, $67! I looked at other appliance parts online stores, $60 up to $100.

    It’s a simple, 25amp 250 volt fuse made by Little Fuse. I went to their website and looked up the exact fuse. I talked to one of their technicians who assured me it was the same exact fuse. He referred me to a couple of online electronic supply stores. Their price, $1.40. That’s a 4785% mark-up!

    That’s not all. There’s a foam insulator strip that goes under the edge of the glass top as it rests against the countertop. It’s nothing at all special, I could buy a roll at any hardware store for about $4. The factory Whirlpool strip cut to the length necessary to fit under the stovetop is nearly $60 from appliance parts suppliers! Crazy rip-offs!

    • Lele says:

      I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the cost of replacing a rusted dishwasher rack! It should be a crime to gouge people into purchasing a new dishwasher because of this. They should be ashamed of the waste and damage they are inflicting on our beautiful planet!! However, as long as humans continue to go along with it, nothing will be done about it. It amazes me how all of us continue to be sheep…spending ridiculous amounts of money, using more credit, and working 2 jobs, only so these manufacturers can get richer and richer as the planet suffers. So many examples of this, yet nobody wants to fix it or find a solution. My heart is broken and so is my dishwasher. I guess I’ll hand wash my dishes! I’m not going to give them all my money.

  6. joshua says:

    Part of the problem is that the manufacturers aren’t using standardized parts. Whirlpool may have 130 models of oven, and most of them have different and non-interchangeable parts. So they have to keep hundreds and hundreds of different parts in stock, instead of a few dozen. Why do they need 41 different igniters is beyond me.

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