Are you in a situation where you need to search for used auto parts? You must be; otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this page.
With social distancing becoming the norm, there’s probably no other more opportune time to own a car than now. Car owners now place more emphasis on keeping their rides in tiptop shape. With that comes the need for regular servicing and the occasional repair or replacement of parts, both of which are costly but necessary exercises.
Of course, buying new will always be on top of anyone's wish list, though not always possible. Some of the constraints to buying new car parts are high price and unavailability, especially if your car's manufacturer has already stopped producing parts for it. There are pros and cons to buying either brand new or used car parts. Whatever you ultimately decide on, buying used auto parts will always be an option and a real bargain.
The tricky part, however, is that you need to know what to look for and how to find it. If you don’t, then this guide will be handy, no doubt.
Tips to Remember When Buying Used Auto Parts
1. Not all car parts are safe to buy used. Fast-wearing parts, like spark plugs, starter motor, brake pads, and brake rotors, are better replaced with new ones. Common sense dictates that since these auto parts wear out quickly, their secondhand versions will have already spent up their usefulness and will need to be replaced again soon. You need to be equally discriminating when it comes to bigger and more critical parts. Should you opt for, say, a used radiator, make sure it has a long warranty, and your mechanic inspects it and gives you the go. For major replacements like an engine, you need to be doubly careful and do read this guide on buying a used car engine. Also, you need to be aware about which car parts you can safely buy used.
2. Do your research on the car part. Do due diligence on whatever you’re buying, which holds true to finding used car parts to buy. Before calling sellers, list your car’s VIN, make, model, model year, the car part description, correct part number and specs, and refer to your mechanic for other requirements. These are costly and frustrating mistakes to make, so you'd want less or none of them. Also, it would be wise to have a ballpark price for the item you’re buying. All these steps will help you get the correct part, spare yourself from stress, and avoid spending beyond what's necessary.
3. Use a car part locator. Various websites provide tools for searching used auto parts, such as the Melbourne Hotline, HAPSA, and Carpart.com.au. The first two websites will connect you to wreckers in their covered areas. Carpart.com.au works for both local and nationwide searches for new and used auto parts by connecting you to its network of 500+ sellers and wreckers. The advantage of using these websites and hotlines is that you limit the time and effort you spend in such a tedious task. Besides, they're the experts in this field, with quick access to the best suppliers of used car parts.
4. Buy local. If the part is available locally, it’s best to opt for that source. When using Carpart.com.au, specify your suburb and a shorter kilometre radius. Aside from lowering shipping cost, it also eases up concerns on the timeliness of delivery, warranty servicing, and other aspects of an online purchase. We recommend local suppliers, especially family-run wreckers and sellers. They tend to have a more responsive costumer service than e-commerce sites like eBay or big-name automotive franchises. It's also safe to say that they're generally more trustworthy than online classifieds sites like Gumtree or Craigslist. It would be to your benefit to read about the history of sellers and the reviews about them, especially how they handled past complaints if there were any. You may also want to know about CarPart’s Wreckamended Wreckers, who are featured on its homepage. Clicking on each of these vetted sellers will connect you to their respective websites.
5. Find out about how 'used' the used auto part is. Remember, you’d want to find out about its serviceability, so knowing the mileage of a used auto part and comparing it to the average lifespan of a new one will give you a good idea of its worth. You’ll know how much to haggle for it and if it’s worth buying at all.
6. Ask about the donor car’s history. The seller should willingly give this information; if not, that’s a red flag. With the donor car’s VIN, it would be a breeze to check its accident history through Carfax or similar websites. A side note: If you’re buying a used car, here’s how to inspect a secondhand car for signs of accidents.
7. Read the fine print. Read the provisions in the seller’s return or refund policies and warranty coverage. Make sure you understand the inclusions and exclusions and ask for clarification if there’s anything you don’t understand.
8. Verify claims made by sellers. Auto parts vary between genuine, OEM, and aftermarket. All these are legit parts; however, there will be some parts makers who will pass their product for something that it’s not, and that’s when you should be concerned about counterfeits. Here are some tips on how to spot fake OEMs. Aside from that, car parts will also differ between new and used. And as if that were not enough, used auto parts go through several differentiations, such as rebuilt, reconditioned, remanufactured, and refurbished. It’s easy to get lost, so it’s a good idea to refer to your mechanic before deciding.
9. Be discerning when buying car body panels. Choose colours and style that match the existing body parts or your car. That way you don’t spend extra for repainting or covering up clashing styles. The whole point of buying used auto parts is to save on cash, so it’s best not to throw money on something that would be an eyesore or another money sink.
10. Be guided by a checklist. You’ll need car parts for as long as you own a car. You will eventually master the skill, but meanwhile, this list will be most helpful.
The idea about buying used auto parts is to get your money’s worth. That said, it’s bad practice to buy them haphazardly. It will not only cost you money, but it may also cost you your life.