Used auto parts can be a great way to save some money if you are trying to maintain a vehicle between 4 and 15 years old. If a car is newer, not enough parts will be available to make it easy to find used parts. Beyond 15 years, not enough of the cars are still rolling to maintain the inventory. For older cars, you may have to look a lot longer to find a used and usable part.
Call local salvage yards.
Salvage yards make money in three ways. They sell all of their left over parts and bodies for scrap iron. This makes them a little money after they have milked the used and often wrecked car dry. Salvage yards specialize in used auto body parts. Fenders, bumpers, doors, etc. are great money makers for these businesses. They also make good choices for repairs when you are trying to save money.
The third way that salvage yards make money is by selling car parts, transmissions, and motors. Some salvage yards will require you to remove your own parts. Most yards will remove the parts that are most in demand. Alternators, starters, motors, and, transmissions are often removed and inventoried so they can be quickly accessed to sell. Many of these are sold through the networks of salvage dealers who advertise parts that are being sought.
If you need a blower fan for your heating or air conditioning, you will probably have to remove this yourself in many salvage yard. The same is true for windshield wiper motors many small parts.
Be careful when buying electronic components on the used market.
With the modern electronics that are installed on all cars today, electronics are getting more popular on the used market. The problem with buying these used is that they often have been sitting in less than ideal conditions for times lasting from a few weeks to possibly a year or more. Being exposed to the moisture and poor conditions can erode this delicate equipment.
Not all used dealers will allow a return on these parts. Since the installer can easily send a static electric jolt through sensitive circuits, the chances of damage by an inexperienced mechanic is high. Find out ahead of time about the salvage yard’s policy on this type of equipment.
Do not buy used auto parts that you do not know how to check out.
Used parts like ball joints or universal joints are difficult to diagnose for problems when not in use. Buying parts like these can just be asking to make a given repair twice. Although starters and alternators can be difficult to check out, these are usually some of the more reliable parts that can be removed from a wrecked vehicle. Like with the electronic equipment, make sure that you know if the part can be refunded or exchanged if does not work.
Online auctions are a decent option for used parts.
While these are going to be purchased from someone that is not necessarily near you, many of the online auctions like eBay can give reliable use parts because of the accountability that the rating system gives. Be careful buying online. This is just because some online dealers do not make it easy to send back a bad part or a wrong part. Also, an auction format can mean that you will pay more than you should if you are not able to control your bidding.
If you need a lot of used parts for one car, consider buying a junker that has most of the parts.
One advantage to buying a junker or wreck that has the used parts that you need is the economy. You can often buy this type of car for under $300 if you are not restoring a classic car. This type of vehicle can have 2 to 4 times that much value in used parts if you need them. At the end of the process, you can sell the parts that you did not use or sell the car for scrap. Either way, you will recoup some of your money back in cash. With luck, your used parts may almost be free.