If your TV stops working for no apparent reason, it's not always a hardware problem. Before you spend any money, take the time to do a few internet searches and do some troubleshooting. There are a lot of common problems that can result in a nonresponsive TV or messed-up picture, and most of them don't require an actual physical repair. If you do have a hardware issue, some quick research can tell you whether to repair or replace it.
First, Do Some Troubleshooting
Your first step should be to check your TV manufacturer's website to see if it has a troubleshooting tool or guide. Many do, and they can provide model-specific advice and potential solutions. If this doesn't resolve your problem, search the make and model number of your TV as well as a description of the problem, like this: "mybrand xxxx-3210-ac won't power on." You should turn up numerous sites where people with the same problem have looked for – and hopefully found – help.
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This process may help you narrow down possible solutions, whether they be DIY or a full repair. You may also get a sense of how much the repair costs, what kind of questions to ask, or – in a best-case scenario – whether it's a known issue that resulted in a recall.
Research the TV Repair Cost
If your TV is visibly damaged or your troubleshooting narrows the problem down to a specific hardware issue, the next step is to find out how much a repair costs. A number of sites can give you national or regional repair cost averages, which gives you a point of reference.
Next, call around to reputable local repair shops to get estimates. Some give free estimates, while others charge for their technician's time. That's reasonable and not necessarily a deal-breaker. Any whose estimates are notably higher or lower than the others or the averages you researched can be discarded. Lowball estimates often result in higher than expected bills, and high estimates mean you may be paying more than necessary.
Most repairs boil down to a handful of recurrent problems, including screen replacement, replacement of the main board or the board supplying power to the TV, or sometimes a problematic component such as a capacitor or resistor that has failed. The cost reflects the cost of replacement parts, the technician's time and, sometimes, a surcharge for doing the repair in your home rather than at the shop.
Weigh the Relative Costs
On the average flat-screen TV, repair of a cracked screen is one of the highest-cost repairs. Usually, on all but the biggest screens, it is more than the cost of a replacement TV. The screen of a larger TV costs more to replace, but the TVs themselves are higher-priced as well, so it may still work to your advantage. The brand also becomes a consideration. On a major brand like Samsung, the TV screen repair price might be lower than many others simply because they're so common. Parts might be harder to source for lesser-known or off-brand TVs.
Once you have your estimate, compare it to the cost of buying a replacement TV. If the two are at all close, buying a new TV – with a full warranty and all the latest features – might be a good option.
Account for Intangibles
Sometimes it's not a simple dollars-and-cents decision because of other factors. One obvious question to ask is, "Can I work around this?" If one set of inputs has failed, but others work, for example, the easy answer is to switch your devices to other inputs. You might need to buy an adapter or converter, but that's usually cheaper than a TV repair.
Another factor is relative quality. If your TV was high-end a few years ago, you can probably replicate its features with a much cheaper model today, but will the quality be the same? High-end models tend to have better build quality and contain higher-quality parts and may have more inputs or better controls for your picture and sound. You might still opt for the newer set, but it's not always a slam-dunk.
You may even want to avoid some of the newer features. Smart TVs send user data to their manufacturers and third parties, and some have even been caught eavesdropping on conversations. Privacy-minded viewers might prefer to get their smart features through an attached device like a Roku or Fire Stick, which has the added benefit of being cheaper and easier to upgrade or replace.