Buying used high-end appliances

polkadotzMarch 25, 2014

We're about to remodel our home and have spent time perusing Craigslist and Ebay for high end appliances. Has anyone here bought used appliances? Good/bad experience? What questions should we ask beyond the usual, "has ever been serviced? repaired for any reason?" etc.

We're aware that buying a used appliance means not getting a warranty and are willing to take that risk. We're looking at Wolf and Viking 48" dual fuel ranges & sub zero fridges. We love the look of CornueFe and Bertazzonis but just aren't sure about the reliability.

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1st I would get the serial numbers of any appliances you are seriously considering and call the company to make sure they are not stolen. Then ask said company about repair history.

I would expect most owners will say everything is great never had a problem never been serviced.

If getting used I would definitely get all gas range. In Wolf no self-clean frying the electronics. I would not consider new Viking ranges or built-in fridges much less used. You will be buying Viking units at the height of the Viking quality woes or very old appliances.

I seriously looked at used Sub Zeroes. At least here in Los Angeles the resale value is ridiculously high. I went with floor model Gaggenau built-in 24" freezer at 70% off and a discontinued 24" built-in Liebherr refrigerator from a liquidator I got for 80% off. And installed them in separate areas of the kitchen.

I would expand your search beyond Wolf Sub Zero. Look for built-in refrigerators and pro style ranges. Or include custom French/Italian ranges.

When bargain hunting on craigslist or ebay you should not narrow your search but expand it.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Thanks, I think it's a great idea to call about the serial numbers. Although I wonder how many are actually reported stolen. Can't hurt to try. Am I understanding you correctly that the self clean function in the Wolf ranges eventually fries the electronic controls?

I admit I've never heard of Liebherr. Have you been happy with the fridge?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:08PM
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I would say that about 80% of repairs for ovens are directly or indirectly related to the self clean function. From burning electronics to chips on the enamel. The busiest time of year for appliance repair is right before Thanksgiving and Christmas when people turn on the self-clean in order to have a clean oven when in-laws and company come over. It is not just a Wolf thing but self-clean in ovens generally.

Empty houses during full remodels or new house job sites get robbed on a fairly regular basis. If you had $20k Plus in high end appliances stolen wouldn't you report it? My guess is the adjuster at the insurance company would report it in any event as part of his job.

I must have looked at a dozen used Sub Zeroes. One had the serial number removed.

Yeah, I am happy with my choices. After the Gaggenau settled in it was not as tough to open. At the store it seemed like it took a lot of effort to open. After a year or so it longer required a lot of extra effort to open.

One of the reasons I chose the Liebherr was because the door was lighter and easier for my 88 year old father (that lives with us) to open. Most of the built-ins in the store showrooms require much more effort to open that a regular freestanding fridge. Plus, Liebherr did not offer a freezer with ice dispenser. A deal breaker for me.

Liebherr is a very old German refrigeration company. During WW II the Nazi's required them to build cranes and heavy equipment. Now refrigeration is a very small part of their business while cranes and similar equipment is the overwhelming majority of their business.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:54PM
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I've stocked my home (and others) with used high-end stuff from eBay and CL (the latter usually much less expensive and easier to find locally, but for smaller items like cooktops you'll find a better selection on eBay if there's a particular one you're looking for). I regularly see Miele washers, dryers, ovens, and cooktops being sold for dirt cheap on CL by people who just moved into their homes, want something bigger, and have never heard of Miele and think it's a cheap off-brand. Many are unfamiliar with high-end brand names which helps keep prices low; I've scored used 12" and 24"w Gaggenau grills and cooktops for peanuts, a Fisher & Paykel single drawer d/w for $75 that works fine. But yes, check for serial numbers. And if possible, ask to see it running. This is easiest for fridges since you can just plug them in; more difficult for 240v or gas appliances that have already been deinstalled, or dishwashers and washing machines that aren't connected to plumbing. Get the model number of anything you're considering and download the specs, installation, and owner's manuals from the manufacturer's website or elsewhere (usually still available for anything from the '90s onward), and know how old it is. Sometimes I find almost new stuff for sale at half price that's never been installed, bought for a renovation and later found not to fit or be the wrong color. Be sure you have human help, hand trucks, and transportation in place for the larger/heavier items, as well as tools to remove refrigerator doors. Secure the washing machine tub during transportation, with original shipping bolts if available (they rarely are) or makeshift bolts and/or removable strong tape. Remove refrigerator glass shelves and carry them separately and well protected.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 11:49AM
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If you buy used from a dealer you usually get a 30-90 day warranty.

During that time, test EVERYTHING.

I've always bought used appliances for rentals and my own home. Check the dealers, tell them what you are looking for, and it's just a matter of waiting.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:24PM
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The only used appliance I bought from a dealer I negotiated the price $200 lower for dropping their 1 or 3-month warranty (the store was a 3 hour drive away, and didn't want to drive out that far to get it repaired under warranty, but I had been searching for this item for a good part of a year). It was demonstrated in the store and worked, and continued to for 4 months after it was installed after which it failed. No serial number on this unit, hmmm.... (it was an independent store but it seemed reputable).

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:38PM
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