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Second Is or Isn’t the Best? When to Buy Used Car Parts and When to Buy New

If you own a vehicle, it is only a matter of time before something breaks and it needs repair. In fact, AAA was called on to rescue 32 million drivers in 2015. This is simply the nature of mechanical components, they age and wear out. 

Paying to get your car repaired can get expensive depending on the number of repairs and the parts that need repair. You can reduce this cost by buying used car parts. 

You don’t want to buy all of your parts used though. There are some parts that are perfectly fine used, while others you should only buy new. 

Keep reading and we’ll help you determine which parts are safe to buy used, and which parts are not. 

Should You Buy Used Car Parts?

There has always been debate over whether you should buy new or used car parts. It’s a decisive topic car enthusiasts are rarely ambivalent on. If you’re curious about the pros and cons of used parts, you can read this post from Auto Chain

This is the wrong thing to focus on though. Instead of thinking of all your vehicle’s compartments, you should approach the new or used debate on a part by part basis. 

Only Buy These Car Parts New 

As a rule of thumb, do not buy parts that wear out fast. The useful life of these parts is already relatively short, so it isn’t smart to invest in used parts that and have an even shorter useful life. 

Filters, belts, and wiring are all components that wear out relatively fast compared to the rest of the parts in your vehicle. You will also find that these parts new are not all that expensive, so you won’t be saving much, if anything, by buying them used. 

Limited Warranty 

If the used part you want doesn’t come with a limited warranty, don’t buy it. Used parts aren’t necessarily bad, but you’ll want some degree of certainty that your part will work. 

The Shortlist 

Below is a list of parts that you should only buy new. 

  • battery 
  • brakes- disk/rotors and pads 
  • catalytic converter 
  • air bags and sensors 
  • air filter 
  • ignition coil, condenser, and points
  • wheel bearings and cylinders 
  • switches and sensors used throughout your car
  • oil filter
  • spark plugs

These Parts Can be Bought Used 

There are certain parts that will cost quite a bit of money if bought new. One of the things to consider when choosing between new and old is to consider the cost of each and if there is value in buying used

Non-Mechanical Parts 

The parts of your car that are non-mechanical are pretty safe to be bought used and installed on your vehicle. This would include things like body panels, bumpers, interior components, or windows. 

These parts are not essential to the running of your vehicle. This makes it pretty safe and easy to interchange components. 

When buying any used part, ask the seller about the part. Confirm that the part came off of the same or compatible vehicle to yours. 

Look the part over and make sure that it is in good working condition. You will probably find minor imperfections. This is ok, as long as they don’t interfere with the part working efficiently and safely. 

When it comes to static parts like body panels or bumpers, you’ll want to make sure that the attachment points are intact. For moving parts like the window motor or lights, check to make sure they work. 

Do not buy a used part that has only been taken from another vehicle but has not been tested. There is no guarantee that the part pulled is in good working condition. 

The Shortlist 

Here is a short list of parts that you can buy used and not have any issue. 

  • body panels 
  • bumpers
  • exhaust pipes 
  • gas cap
  • hubcaps 
  • grill 
  • interior trim 
  • steering wheel 
  • stereo and speakers 
  • sunroof and motor 
  • tail and headlights 
  • window glass and motors 

Refurbished or Reconditioned 

There is a third category of parts that don’t quite fall into either of the other categories. These are the refurbished or reconditioned parts. 

These are parts that have been used but have since been tested and restored. Refurbished parts are tested and repaired by the original manufacturer. Reconditioned parts are repaired and restored to working condition, but not by the original manufacturer. 

Parts in This Category 

Your car’s ECU unit or alternator are two parts that can be refurbished or reconditioned. Both of these parts are expensive when bought brand new. Another common component that gets reconditioned is the transmission. 

For each of these, it is perfectly acceptable to buy used. You just want to make sure that a reputable source reconditioned the part and that it comes with a warranty. 

The Shortlist 

This is by no means a complete list, but a guide to help you decide if you should buy the part you need refurbished or reconditioned. 

  •  alternator
  • camshaft
  • cooling fan
  • dashboard gauges
  • engine block
  • flywheel
  • fuel injector
  • fuel pump
  • oil pump
  • radiator
  • transmission
  • turbocharger

Every situation varies. You and your mechanic will be able to make the right decision for your vehicle and situation. 

What Parts Will You Buy?

When buying a used car part, use common sense. How expensive is the part you need to replace if you bought it new? How fast does the part wear out? 

Don’t waste your time and money replacing an affordable or fast wearing part used. These are best purchased new. 

If you do decide to go used, look for refurbished or reconditioned if the part is mechanical. You want to make sure that the part is worth the investment. 

Learn how great maintenance practices can help reduce your costs of repair. 

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