Any time you need to purchase parts for your vehicle, it is a bad time. Of course, buying used auto parts can save you money, and if you buy quality used parts, you can enjoy lots of mileage before having to worry about any more problems. Quality used auto parts, however, might be hard to come by because many used parts are beyond their useful lifespan while others might not even work for your vehicle.
To complicate matters, dealers or salvage yards often leave the responsibility of part selection up to you, the customer. In this case, they enjoy sales revenue from parts without having to carry any financial cost of verifying that a part will work. Additionally, they might not even take responsibility if the part should ultimately fail. To increase the chances you walk away with a part that will work for your needs,
1. Identify your faulty part
Cars are wonderful because they can be customized to a buyer’s needs. However, the fact that they can come with so many packages can make it difficult when you are attempting to replace parts.
For instance, two different models might have vastly different engines, and the ancillary parts associated with each engine can also be vastly different. Prior to forking over any money, you should know exactly what type of part is installed in your vehicle.
2. Find your vehicle’s manufacturing date
The date your car was made is important as the specific date might actually vary from other models made in the same year. Consequently, parts from vehicles made at different times might not match the parts on your vehicle.
3. Jot down the part number
Vehicles often receive manufacture updates on a yearly basis, and they receive significant updates and changes every four years or so. Because of the dynamic nature of auto manufacturing, the parts for two vehicles of the same make or model could be vastly different.
In order to ensure you get the right part for your specific vehicle, you should contact the manufacturer or dealer and get the part number for the part that needs to be replaced. The part number is important because the used car part you want to buy should match the faulty part you want to replace.
4. Beware of fake designations
Counterfeits are common in just about any manufacturing industry, and in the auto industry, counterfeits come with class designations, such as class A or class B. When you are purchasing a part, the part should be designated as OEM, which stands for original equipment manufacturer.
Additionally, some counterfeits are hastily made in countries by people who do not speak or read the language of the part’s destination country. As a result, typos are rampant. When purchasing a used part, you should look at the name and description stamped on the part and note if all the words adhere to correct spelling.
5. Know your prices
Although online retailers and national chains will not allow haggling, salvage yards will. With this in mind, you should attempt to obtain the part at a discount of at least 15 percent lower than the initial asking price. Of course, your ability to successfully negotiate a lower price depends on the part’s overall availability, so if you are shopping for a fairly common part, you should ask for a better price.
Additionally, to ensure you do not overpay, you should research online prices prior to buying. When matching online prices to local prices, you will have to factor in shipping and merchant fees. What you pay to a dealer should not exceed online prices plus these fees.
6. Get comprehensive information
When buying a used part, it is difficult to know all the different ways you might end up with a faulty part. With this in mind, some general strategies you can follow include the following:
- take a photo of the part, ensuring stamped numbers are visible
- note the color of the paint to ensure the part matches yours
- photograph the VIN to ensure the part will fit your specific car
7. Ask about the return policy
A salvage yard might offer a limited warranty or no warranty at all. A retailer might offer a 90-day or 1,000-mile warranty. Some dealers provide a warranty if they install the part but not if you install it on your own. To ensure you are protected, you should understand the return policy prior to purchasing used auto parts.