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When you buy a new smartphone, computer, home appliance, or other product, you may not always think about whether it can be fixed if it breaks or has an issue. But here’s the thing: some manufacturers prevent you from fixing the things you buy. They might do things like gluing in batteries, limiting the availability of spare parts, and not giving you the repair instructions and software to help figure out the problem.  

The FTC released a report today about repair restrictions and how they limit your ability to fix products that break. The report suggests what the FTC, lawmakers, and manufacturers can do to make it easier for you to fix the things that you own.

But there are some things that you can do yourself. Before you buy, do some research online to find out:

  • What is the average lifespan of the product?
  • What is likely to go wrong with it if it breaks?
  • How hard will it be to fix the problem?

Here’s something else to know, in case you find yourself in this situation. Let’s say you took a product to an independent repair shop to fix or maintain it. Then later you go to the product’s manufacturer for a repair — but one not related to the earlier fix. If that repair is covered by your warranty, and if your warranty hasn’t expired, the manufacturer can’t refuse to make the repair.

If you’re told that your warranty was voided or that it will be voided because of independent repair, we want to hear about it. Report it to the FTC at