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Thursday, July 28 2011

What do side-by-side refrigerators, laptop computers, and zero-turn-radius riding mowers have in common? They’re among the most repair-prone products consumers can buy, according to Consumer Reports’ most recent Product Reliability Survey.

In the magazine’s Repair or Replace Survey, 27,404 subscribers reported about the troubles they had with 53,218 broken appliances, electronics, lawn equipment, and more.

Though consumer goods have become more complex and contain more electronics than a decade ago, the 33 products featured in the survey aren’t failing more frequently. But when things go wrong, they tend to go horribly wrong. Consumer Reports National Research Center found that more than half of the products that did break stopped working altogether, and another 30% still worked, but poorly.

“Should I repair or replace it; how much is the repair likely to cost; what will a new one cost. These are many of the questions that go through a consumer’s mind when a major product breaks,” says Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home and yard editor at Consumer Reports. “Being armed with the right answers can save people thousands of dollars on appliances and gear.”

Here’s what else Consumer Reports’ survey found:

Computers break — a lot. Around one in three laptops and desktops break by their fourth year. Many computer breakdowns are due to malicious software (malware) or hard drive failure. Installing antivirus software on a computer is the best defense against malware. To be safe, always shut down the device before traveling even a short distance.

Some technologies are finicky. Refrigerators with icemakers are twice as likely to break down as those without. The device’s complicated design and the extreme environment it must operate in explains the high failure rate. Among laundry appliances, front loading washers are more repair-prone than top-loaders. The large rubber gasket that forms a watertight seal around the door is the common culprit. Mold is another issue. Manufacturers recommend periodically cleaning the gasket with a bleach solution and keeping the door ajar after each use to allow ventilation.

Extended warranties don’t deliver. Based on Consumer Reports’ survey, appliances usually don’t break during the extended-warranty period, normally after the standard warranty has expired, but within two to three years of purchase. Even when breakdowns occur in that time, the median repair cost isn’t much more than the median price of a warranty. And if a product doesn’t break, the extended warranty is just a waste of money. A computer might be an exception, especially if you travel frequently and take the device along for the ride. Make sure the warranty covers accidental damage and extended tech support.

Brand reliability varies by product. Manufacturers often have strengths and weakness in different product categories. GE, for example, has made very reliable cooking appliances, but its refrigerators with icemakers have been repair-prone. John Deere’s lawn tractors have been very reliable, but its self-propelled lawn mowers have been significantly more repair-prone than other brands. And LG has made reliable plasma TVs and clothes dryers, but not reliable side-by-side refrigerators.

The 50% rule still stands. Consumer Reports suggests buying a replacement if the repair will cost more than half the price of the new product. Replacing electronic gear might be less costly than most people think because prices are steadily dropping in some categories. Major appliances, on the other hand, are getting more expensive and they usually have long service lives, which is why Consumer Reports generally recommends holding onto them longer than electronics.

Some products are harder to repair. Consumer Reports’ survey indicates that repairs of gas cooktops, built-in refrigerators, and home-theater systems can also be frustrating because they take an inordinately long time, cost a lot, or because the item requires further service calls. Dryers, electric cooktops, and digital cameras have the highest success and satisfaction rates.

The full report on repairing or replacing appliances, electronics, lawn equipment, and home exercise gear, appears in the August issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Source: Consumer Reports



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/side-side-refrigerators-laptops-and-lawn-tractors-most-repair-prone-products/#ixzz1T9FJe6rg
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 13 2011

Just in time for the warm weather and green grass, the latest issue of Consumer Reports features ratings of more than 100 mowers and tractors.

Consumer Reports testers mowed 19.2 acres and identified more than 30 top-scoring models, including three models from Honda and Toro that retail for $400 or less.

Among the top performers is the Black & Decker SPCM1936, $450, one of the few cordless electric mowers with self-propelling wheels, a feature more typically found on gas models.

Tests also found more lawn tractors that can maneuver around trees and posts nearly as well as zero-turn-radius riders. The new Craftsman 28856, a CR Best Buy at $1,600, offers added agility plus impressive mowing for about $1,000 less than many zero-turn riders and $2,000 less than the four-wheel-steer John Deere X304 tractor. At $500 each, the Toro Super Recycler 20092 and Honda HRR216K7VXA cost $200 less than the top Honda self-propelled gas model and mow comparably.

On some models, features trumped performance. Lawn Boy’s 10605 one-speed mower includes a work-saving clutch for just $300, but it was only mediocre at bagging and side-discharging clippings. The Cub Cadet’s Z Force S 46 17AF5BHH is tops among zero-turn-radius riders and noteworthy for its tractor-like steering wheel and steerable front wheels for better control down slopes, but it was among the more repair-prone tractor brands and was repair-prone among zero-turn riders.

“Shoppers will find feature-laden mowers for less and tractors that cost about the same as smaller riding mowers,” said Peter Sawchuk, Project Leader at Consumer Reports. “But our tests of more than 100 models show that some models put features before performance and could leave many consumers stuck in the weeds.”

How to choose

Consider a self-propelled mower for hills and save cordless models for small lawns that can be mowed within 30- to 45-minutes. For larger lawns with slopes, choose a tractor with front-steering wheels over a lever-steer, zero-turn-radius rider, which is harder to control on hills. Here are additional tips Consumer Reports recommends keeping in mind:

  • Choose the right mode. All tractors and riders can side-discharge clippings, essential when grass is too high to mulch or bag. Choose a model that did well in the mode preferred. For riders, expect to pay about $50 extra for a mulch kit and $500 for the bagging system.
  • Know what you’re getting. Many brands are made by more than one manufacturer, so know the mower’s model number when replacing blades and other parts, rather than just the make and blade size.
  • Think twice about high wheels. For walk-behind mowers, engines mounted farther up front make most of those mowers harder to tilt back when making U-turns at the end of a row.
  • Play it safe. Check for rocks and other debris before mowing. Keep people and pets away from the area. Always wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and hearing protection. And look behind whenever backing up a riding machine.

How Americans really feel about mowing

Purchasing the right mower is only half the battle, mowing the lawn is the other. According to the latest nationwide lawn care poll from Consumer Reports, some 32% of respondents found mowing relaxing, good exercise, or nice private time. But most would trade part of their lawn for something else, including fake grass (12%), with only 5% actually wanting to enlarge their lawn. And distracted driving isn’t limited to the car, texting and talking on the phone (4%), in addition to boozing (8%) are a few activities that come into play while mowing.

Lawn care is an activity that one must dress for, but according to poll results, many were dressed to kill, or at least injure themselves. Over three-quarters of respondents (77%) didn’t wear hearing protection, and over half (54%) wore shorts. Having close-toed shoes are also not a concern for 14% of Americans.

Source: Consumer Reports



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/top-lawn-mowers-and-tractors-make-consumer-reports-cut/#ixzz1J3HLiqJn
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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The Trentini Team
F.C. Tucker EMGE REALTORS®
7820 Eagle Crest Bvd., Suite 200
Evansville, IN 47715
Office: (812) 479-0801
Cell: (812) 499-9234
Email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com


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