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Posted: 12:31 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014

Strategies for buying the best washer and dryer

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Shopping for a new washer or dryer? You don't have to pay big bucks to get the reliability and performance you want.

I recently had to shop for a new clothes washer/dryer combo after ours croaked following years of loyal service. So I shopped at a scratch and dent appliance store.

Scratch and dent stores offer new appliances that have been sufficiently scuffed up during shipping to the point where they can't be sold in a traditional appliance store.

I had been pricing the same model I wanted at Costco and ultimately paid half the price at the scratch and dent. If you can beat Costco by that much, you know you have a real deal!

The October 2013 issue of Consumer Reports rates the best washers and dryers. Among their top picks were the LG WT1101CW, Samsung WA422PRHD[WR], and GE GTWN7450DWW -- all marked as 3 of the best buys for top-loading washers.

But top brand reliability goes to Roper, followed by closely by Kenmore and Maytag. Further down in reliability, it's Whirlpool, GE, and Fisher & Paykel when you're talking top-loading washers.

For front-loading washers, there were only 2 best buys: The Whirlpool Duet WFW70HEBW and the LG WM3070H[W]A.

When it comes to front-loading reliability, LG is tops, followed by Samsung, Kenmore, Whirlpool, Maytage, Frigidaire, and GE.

Interestingly, washers and dryers fail more than other common electronics purchases. About 1 in 8 washers will fail over the first few years of ownership. With dryers, you get more reliability on average, with only 1 in 16 failing during that same time period.

But think about my approach as a way to shop for appliances. Look for reliability stats from Consumer Reports or elsewhere and then shop at a scratch and dent store. You can get even more bang for your buck by purchasing mismatching colors of dryers and washers at the scratch and dent.

How can you find a scratch and dent store near you? Try calling local appliance stores and asking if they have a nearby outlet store or warehouse. Sears Outlet operates some of the best scratch and dents outlets across the country. There's also a regional chain called Appliance Smart that has locations in Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas.

Just be aware that delivery often isn't included in the price, so you'll need to arrange for that on your own or through the scratch and dent's own delivery agent at an additional cost.

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