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For $20 to $50 you can fix the gas grill you have now

Consumer Reports News: May 21, 2013 09:08 AM

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Price isn't the best indicator of a gas grill's performance but cheap and flimsy parts, especially when they come with short warranties, are a tip-off that the grill is not long for this world. On average, Americans pay just over $325 for a gas grill and then haul it to the curb in three years, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Before you buy a new grill find out if your old one is worth repairing.

Start by inspecting your existing grill, checking the sturdiness of the frame, firebox, and lid and look for rust. Consider how much you spent on the grill, its age, and how long you think it will last based on your experience. "It's not unusual for a more expensive grill to last 10 to 15 years," says Mike Kempster, executive vice president of Weber. "If a grill is five years old or older I wouldn't invest more than 30 percent of its cost on replacement parts." Here's a look at commonly replaced parts and a range of costs. Keep in mind that the more expensive the grill, the pricier the replacement parts. And always follow your owner's manual cleaning instructions.

Problem: Uneven flames, uneven heat
Solution: Clean the burner ports, but if that doesn't solve the problem or you discover corrosion or rust, it's time for new burners. Get free replacements from the manufacturer if they're still under warranty.
Cost: $20 to $50 for lower-priced grills; $50 to $100 for higher-priced models.

Problem: Rusted or chipped grates
Solution: Use a brush to remove rust. Porcelain-coated grates are rustproof until they chip. Replace when porcelain coating is flaking or chipping as it can adhere to food.
Cost: $20 to $50 for lower-priced grills; $50 to $200 for higher-priced models.

Problem: Uneven heat from the vaporizer or flavorizer bar
Solution: Regularly cleaning the bars helps, but if that isn't enough or they're disfigured from intense heat, replace them.
Cost: $15 to $40 for less expensive grills; $20 to $50 for higher-priced models.

You'll find prices for replacement parts on manufacturers' websites. If you decide to buy a new grill take a look at the results of our gas grill tests. We tested 108 models that range in price and performance. When shopping, gently nudge the grills from several points to test their sturdiness and press down on the side shelf to find out if it can support a heavy pot. If the parts feel flimsy, they probably are.

We found 31 winners in our recent gas grill tests including the small Weber Spirit E-220 4631000, $450, the mid-sized Weber Spirit SP-320 46700401, $600, and the large Jenn-Air 720-0709, $900, sold at Sam's Club.

Kimberly Janeway

   

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