Life Expectancy: How Long Will My Sewing Machine Last?

It is a common question to ask. Whenever someone buys a tool or electronic machine, one of the first questions they ask is how long will it last. It is a good question as people want to make sure they get their money’s worth out of their purchases.

How long will my sewing machine last? With proper storage and maintenance along with careful use, you can expect your sewing machine to last over 5 years. Some computerized models may last up to 25 years if you are lucky.

To learn more details about the life expectancy of your sewing machine, just continue to read our article. It has the data to help you determine when you may have to splurge and buy another machine.

Average Sewing Machine Life Expectancy


The average life expectancy for a sewing machine is usually lowered because there are so many cheap models on the market. These not long-lasting machines are not built for longevity but to break down so you will buy another one fairly soon.

On average you can expect your sewing machine to last for about 5 years but there is a big but to this figure. Many top-quality machines are designed to last you a very long time.

You shouldn’t let the average lifespan discourage you from spending some money and getting yourself a very durable and solid sewing machine. Some computer models are lasting 25 years now, that should up the average lifespan a little bit. Although, changes in software, may lower that lifespan.

Of course, since every sewing machine is different you are going to find gems just about anywhere. Some vintage machines are still sewing strong even after 40 years of use. So it is the luck of the draw that lets you have a sewing machine endure for a very long time or only last just beyond the warranty period termination date.

How Long Does a Bernina Last?


Like most companies, Bernina doesn’t like to put a figure on the lifespan of their sewing machines. While their sewing machines are finely tuned and well-built machines, the company knows that one could get a defective part and make it past quality control.

This lemon then won't stay around for very long. Bernina puts in a lot of research to make sure their machines work for a very long time. The company is well aware of how word of mouth can ruin their business if they started producing sewing machines that broke down easily.

The best figure we have been able to find so far is that one Bernina model, the 530-2 record, has lasted 50 years. So to give you an idea, take the lifespan of the computer-controlled sewing machines, 5 to 25 years, and double it for the Bernina. These sewing machines are built to last forever.

Sewing Machine Depreciation Rate

You should be well aware of the trials and tribulations that depreciation brings. When you buy a new car the moment you drive it off the lot, the value goes down by thousands of dollars.

Sewing machines are no different and as the years go by, their value decreases more and more. One figure that has been mentioned is that the depreciation rate for a sewing machine is 15%.

There is a long equation used to figure out the value of your sewing machine. It goes like this:

  • Step 1 - Add the purchase price and all the fees you paid together.
  • Step 2 - Figure out how many years the machine will last.
  • Step 3 - Now you need to guess at what the machine will sell for when its lifespan is just about over.
  • Step 4 - This step has you subtracting step 3’s figure from step 1’s figure. This is your depreciable base.
  • Step 5 - Next divide the figure you got in step 4 by the figure you calculated in step 2. This figure will provide you with a yearly depreciation amount.
  • Step 6 - Finally multiply step 5’s result by the number of years you have already used the machine and you should have your sewing machine depreciation value.

This will take a little time and you can save some effort by calling a trusted and honest sewing machine repairman to get the figure.

Do Sewing Machine Feed Dogs Wear Out?


In one sense yes they do. In the old days when Singer wanted to lower their manufacturing costs, they decided that rubber was a good coating for feed dogs. It was thought at the time the rubber would protect the fabric a lot better and not mark it up.

This was a good plan until the sewing machine oil started to hit the rubber covered feed dogs. The rubber not only wore out but was softened which allowed it to crumble.

Then one manufacturer used plastic for gears. Those plastic parts would eventually wear out if they were made with the color white. The black replacement gears seem to handle their duty well and remain very tough and operational.

To get a clue when the white plastic gears are about to wear out and break, they change from a white color to yellowish-brown color. Metal feed dogs do not seem to wear out as fabric is not that rough on them. Even age does not seem to weaken them like plastic is weakened.

If you do regular maintenance on your sewing machine, do not forget to check your feed dogs and give them a little tender loving care. That will help them last longer. Metal feed dogs may wear out eventually but it may take a long time for that to take place.

One final word, one of the enemies of plastic gears, whether white or black, is oil and grease. Keeping those two products off the plastic gears will help them last along time.

Does Sewing Machine Oil Go Bad


This is an important topic here as bad oil can influence how long your sewing machine will serve you. It will shorten the machine’s lifespan so you need to be aware of a few pointers to make sure your sewing machine oil is always good.

1. Oil is vital to your sewing machine’s life span

You need to add oil as it is the lubricant that helps your metal sewing machine parts to function correctly. The oil keeps the parts from overheating and become ruined.

2. The signs of bad oil

The good news is that sewing machine oil will tell you when it should not be used on your sewing machine. Here are some of those clues:

  • Changes to a dark murky color.
  • Has a cloudy appearance.
  • ​It will not smell like oil or that good.
  • ​You will find a lot of sediment inside the container.
  • ​You will begin to see sludge forming or it has formed already.
  • ​Its consistency will be different.
  • Your sewing machine will start to complain and make a lot of noise.

3. Sewing machine oil does not last forever

In fact, you may be lucky if it survives for 5 years. How you store is one way to lower the lifespan of sewing machine oil. It should not be stored in cold places or direct sunlight.

Water or condensation will also ruin your oil supply. Also, keep your oil in new containers and do not reuse unclean oil cans that held different types of oil. The good news is that synthetic oils can last longer than five years but again, only if you store them correctly.

Also, natural oils do not last forever either. They can oxidize and evaporate on you when you are not looking. Mineral oils may not make it 5 years even if you store them correctly. Read more about how long sewing machine oil last here.

How to Increase Sewing Machine Lifespan

It is possible to beat the average life span on your sewing machine. That means with the proper care you could be using the same sewing machine for the rest of your life. It doesn’t take much work or effort to maintain your expensive sewing machine. That little time pays off in the long run for you.

Here are some tips to help you keep the same sewing machine going for many years:

  • First and foremost you should clean your machine on a regular basis. A dirty machine does not last.
  • Second, you need to lubricate your sewing machine with the correct oil. Any oil will not do. You should always use oil that is designed for your particular sewing machine or sewing machine oil.
  • Third, about once a year you should take your sewing machine into the repairman for a tune-up, a good cleaning or just routine maintenance. It works for cars and it will work for your sewing machine.

(repairmen can find little things wrong that cause a sewing machine to stop working. These little discoveries can save you a lot of money on the repair bill.)

  • Fourth, when a part does break down, don’t replace it with cheap parts. Pay the extra money and install top quality parts that will last a long time.
  • Fifth, make sure you are using the right needle in your machine. The wrong one can cause you a lot of problems.
  • Finally, make sure you are using the correct size of bobbin. People do make this mistake and it can ruin a sewing machine if you do not catch it in time.

A Word About Computerized Sewing Machines

We mentioned earlier that computerized sewing machines have a fairly long life expectancy. But there are some qualifications that should be mentioned so you do not get any false hopes.

Computerized sewing machines are sometimes fragile because their parts are not made from particularly strong materials that last and last. Here are those points you should be aware of:

  • 1. You cannot fix different parts on a motherboard. Once it goes bad, you have to replace the whole board. There is no way to take a motherboard apart and only replace those defective parts.
  • 2. One of the problems with computer circuit boards is that they degrade over time, even if they are not used. The interior parts will tarnish and corrode making them unusable over time.
  • ​3. Sewing machine companies do not have a lot of circuit boards in stock. The reason for this is given in #2. If they did stockpile a lot of them, by the time they were needed, they would all have degraded and be of no value to anyone.
  • ​4. If you buy an expensive machine hoping it will last for 20 to 25 years think again. Even if you use the machine once a week, those circuit boards will tarnish and corrode, etc. After a while, they will be of no use and you will have to get a new part.
  • ​5. Technology changes and continues to upgrade different items, including sewing machine circuit boards. The software may change and the old circuit boards may not be available after a few years.

Some Final Words

Like buying a car, after you do the test drive, you are still hoping you did not purchase a lemon. Those faulty cars seem to have everything go wrong once they are driven off the lot and parked in your driveway.

Generally, sewing machines are very good machines that last and last. It is possible to get a lemon but those situations may be rare as many sewing machine companies do their research and put top quality parts inside.

That effort on the part of the manufacturers, help sewing machines last beyond the average 5-year lifespan. You can help make sewing machines last by doing your part. Routine cleaning and maintenance help draw that lifespan out and have machines lasting for decades.

So do yearly check-ups at the repair shop. Taking care of your machine is the way to beat the odds and keep your sewing machine around until your daughter needs it.

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