Before buying that sweet side-by-side refrigerator or fancy front loader, you might want to consider more than looks and measurements. Some types of appliances and lawn gear are more repair-prone than others. For example, a side-by-side fridge with an icemaker is more than twice as likely to go on the fritz as a top- or bottom- freezer without one. By knowing what breaks and what doesn't, you can save money in the long run.
A minor glitch can sideline a major appliance. But you can avoid those repair costs by knowing which types and brands better stand the test of time. And you can't always buy by brand—while GE's cooking appliances are very reliable, its large refrigerators with icemakers are not. Here are some repair rate matchups from our recent report Repair or replace it?
Refrigerators. Side-by-side with icemaker (36 percent); Top- and bottom-freezer with icemaker (28 percent); Top- and bottom-freezer without icemaker (15 percent).
Washing machines. Front-loading (25 percent); Top-loading (20 percent).
Ranges. Gas and dual-fuel (16 percent); Electric (13 percent).
Vacuums. Canister (18 percent); Upright (14 percent).
Mowers. Zero-turn-radius (30 percent); Lawn tractors (29 percent); Self-propelled (20 percent); Push (12 percent).
—Mary H.J. Farrell