Search Online for a Fix before You Toss that Broken Gadget

By Xin Lu on 27 March 2008 11 comments

My husband and I often search online for fixes to our electronics problems because if a gadget is out of warranty it often costs quite a bit to get it fixed. When we find a solution that is not hard to implement we figure we might as well try it, and we have been able to fix many things including computers and handhelds.

Lately my husband's Nintendo DS Lite has been giving him problems. Namely the shoulder buttons at the top of the portable gaming console has been sporadically non-responsive. He has been using my DS and he was thinking of buying a new one. However, today he found a great low tech fix on the internet that saved us over a hundred dollars.

Apparently, all he had to do was to turn off the machine, put his mouth around the buttons and blow a couple times. He found the solution on the GameSpot forums from a post by SonOfTheSky05 and it worked perfectly. I have to say thank you to this random poster for saving us from spending money and creating more waste.

When you search online for solutions, make sure you search for the correct product and model name. If you have a popular product with a commonly known problem it is often quite easy to find a solution. For the Nintendo DS problem, you can find many reasonable solutions by typing "Nintendo DS L button broken" into Google. You will also see many people say that you should just get it professionally repaired, but researching a bit deeper often gets you what you want.

Another resource is a manufacturer's website. Usually there is a support section of the website where you can find detailed technical manuals and forums to ask questions. In a forum you should describe your problem carefully and ask for help. Usually posting messages that simply say "my stuff broke" would probably not get you many useful responses. Describe what you tested on your gadget and what is broken exactly, and you may find a helpful response.

Finally, I came across a site called Fixya. It is a hub for people to ask questions about broken electronics and there are experts who answer the questions for free. It seems to have a lot of content after being live for about a year.

In many instances you do not have to be a professional electrical engineer to fix your electronics and you could save hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself. However, if you do have a warranty on your gadget, I do recommend sending it to the manufacturer for professional service since opening electronics on your own voids the warranty. So the next time your things break, do not despair and consult the internet!

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David DeFranza's picture

I totally agree with this advice. I always try to fix things instead of replacing them. Sometimes, I even try to combine several broken items into a single functioning one .

Guest's picture

is for a broken Playstation 2. That's why you see so many on eBay. People just throw the thing away when all it needed was a new electronic eye...easily replaceable and also to be found on eBay!

Guest's picture
Debbie M

I've also had good luck with appliances. I've fixed a washer twice and gotten a free replacement for a broken rack in my fridge.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

I found a fix for my iPod once...apparently, if the hard drive gets stuck, you throw it as hard as you can at the floor. Seriously. My husband thought I'd lost my mind, until it worked.

Guest's picture

I've always assumed you just get rid of the broken devise.Now I realize there are ways around having to spend a whole lot more.Thank you for the revelation.

Guest's picture

I found an ipod fix-it site that helped me fix my ipod's click wheel using a folded business card!

Guest's picture

woah srsly? could u send me a link on my yt page xCONGIEx plz?

Guest's picture

I was reading this other thread today and think it has value for this community as well:

Guest's picture

I found this great site: and it has saved me tons of money! I can get either small or large parts for most of my home appliances--for a fraction of what it would cost for a repair person to come and do it. One example: recently (coincidentally) an inside shelf broke on both mine and my friend's refrigerator. I ordered from, and she had Sears come out and fix it. Hers was abut $150, and mine was about $20, including shipping!

Guest's picture was a good resource

It is pretty crazy how much money is saved by fixing appliances yourself! I recently used a site: to diagnose what was wrong with it and find the part that would fix it. It was the first time I tried a repair myself but it was way easier than I thought it would be. They had free step-by-step repair videos and instructions. The part costs me around 45 dollars and the quote I got from a GE repair tech was $160!

Guest's picture

Getting into wisebread late. but better late than never!! Another great site out there to repair your own stuff is it offers videos for a lot of appliances if you're not too handy but can follow directions. It's especially easy because it's all visual.