Car repairs don't come cheap, and even a competent DIY mechanic might need to spend hundreds on a simple fix. Doing car work at home can save a lot on labor costs, but the individual replacement parts required can still be incredibly expensive. How can you save on car parts? By buying used!
There are several benefits to buying used auto parts, the primary draw being their price. Used parts might cost less than half of their new, factory-direct counterparts, but they do the same functional thing. In some cases, it may even make a lot more sense to buy used parts; for example, when replacing a car door or hood, it will need to be painted to match anyway, so why not buy used?
Where can you find used car parts? The three main options are through retail stores, private-party sellers, and auto salvage lots.
Refurbished or remanufactured
One option for used auto parts is purchasing remanufactured parts from an auto parts store. This is likely the most expensive option, but it provides a little more peace of mind. Remanned parts come into a parts store via a distributor or dealer that has them checked for flaws and refurbished in a factory. These parts are often exactly like brand new parts and come with similar guarantees for worksmanship.
For those wanting to save a little more money, it's worth checking online listings for auto parts. Popular trading or personal selling websites typically have a dedicated section for junk cars and auto parts, and if you know exactly what you need, it shouldn't be too hard to find. Things purchased from private parties usually won't come with any kind of guarantee, so these sales really are "buyer beware." However, they can also be the cheapest, and sometimes it's worth a little risk to save some money.
Between private party and used retail refurbished parts are parts from salvage yards or junkyards. Most auto salvage businesses will have a plethora of different makes, models, years, and types of vehicles, so there should be parts available for even the most exotic vehicles. Salvage yards also tend to offer parts at very reasonable prices, and with less risk than private party sellers. Most yards should also provide a limited guarantee or warranty on parts purchased from their stock.
Whether you're looking for a minor cosmetic piece or something necessary for your car to run, taking a look at used auto parts is a great idea. Refurbished parts from retail parts stores are an option, but tend to be pricier than other pre-owned options. For hard-to-find parts or exotic equipment, your local salvage yard is the perfect place to find what you need.