Used auto parts can be a lifesaver, but you have to be careful when shopping. A used auto part that doesn't work or doesn't fit doesn't do you much good. These tips will help you decide whether a used auto part is right for the job.
In addition, there are some general guidelines to help you buy used auto pars in any situation.
- Know what you need. Be sure you know exactly what you want to buy before you shop. If possible, have the old part with you for comparison.
- Ask questions. Don't worry about looking like a novice while you stand at the used auto parts counter. They deal with amateur mechanics all the time, and most guys will give you credit for fixing it yourself even if don't look the part.
- Be sure the part is returnable. Sometimes you'll end up with the wrong part no matter how careful you plan. Make sure they will exchange it for the right part if this happens.
- Decide whether used is good for this repair. If you crack a tail light or break a motor mount, a used part is the perfect low-cost solution. Parts that wear out anyway like alternators, starters and brake rotors should probably be purchased new.
A unique place to buy used parts is at the swap meet. A swap meet is a gathering of car people who bring stuff they don't need anymore to sell or trade for other stuff. It can be a great place to get a deal, but remember there is probably no return policy in this case. The same rules for buying used auto parts from a junk yard apply, with a few exceptions:
- Lower cost. You can buy parts at a swap meet for much less than pretty much anyplace else.
- More options. Chances are there is more than one stack of parts with your gem in it. Find the part that looks solid for the best price. Often the guy with the shiny tent and cool outfit is selling the same stuff as the guy in cutoffs with a pile of parts in front of him. Who do you think will be cheaper?
Let common sense guide you and you'll save time and money buying used auto parts.