The modern automobile is a must-have in today’s harried world. It is now more convenient to go on a weekend adventure with the whole family if one has the wheels to go around. Very few people will say that the modern car is not a necessary piece of technology that makes life a lot easier. That is why car owners always maintain their vehicles in tiptop condition by adhering to recommended maintenance schedules. However, there will always be instances when an automotive part needs replacement. In such cases, it is easy to get confused whether to stick with brand new car parts or to choose cheaper used alternatives. There is nothing wrong if you choose used car parts. However, there are some things you have to keep in mind to help you when buying such things. Here are 10 tips to guide you when buying used car parts.
Determine Where You Intend to Buy Your Parts
In any buying activity, only trustworthy or reputable sellers deserve our attention. Unfortunately, it is never that easy when it comes to second hand or used car parts. Almost anyone can sell used car parts at an online platform such as eBay and Craigslist. There are also auto parts stores that can provide used parts, in addition to original brand-new products. Another potential source of second-hand automotive parts is a junkyard or a wrecking yard.
Regardless of where you are going to purchase your parts, it is imperative that you perform a very thorough research. When it comes to trustworthiness, online sellers may not be the best. The good news is that reputable online commerce sites like eBay provide consumer-based seller ratings. This will provide you an idea of the trustworthiness of the items they are selling. Many of these seller accounts have consumer reviews as well, so you can have a fair evaluation of their products and services.
Auto parts stores are still your go-to when it comes to automotive parts. The thing about them is that they tend to be pricier than those from other sources. Like online sellers, you may want to dig deeper into the reputation of the store. Ask around. There’s a chance that a friend or a neighbor already has an experience dealing with a particular store. An alternative will be to check with your local Better Business Bureau.
One of the best places to source second hand auto parts is a wrecking yard. This is where decommissioned or wrecked vehicles find another purpose. You can purchase usable parts from vehicles before they get scrapped. The good thing with junkyards or wrecking yards is that you can get parts for a much lower price. What you can do is perform a thorough price search on e-commerce platforms and auto parts stores. Tell the guy at the junkyard the prevailing prices in the market and try to haggle the price.
Stick with Local Auto Parts Stores, Not Big Franchises
Contrary to popular notion, big name auto parts store franchises are not the best sources for the stuff that you need. There is a big chance that the product that they will give you may not be the best. You also will not save a lot from such stores because there are many things they have to consider as overhead costs.
There is an unspoken truth among users of second-hand car parts. Big franchises make money by capitalizing on their branding, convenience, and car owners’ desperation. It is the latter that does not sit well with those who want fairness in their purchases.
Your best bet for second-hand auto parts are local stores. They may not have the big name branding of a franchise but you can always expect the service to be more personalized.
Be Certain about the Part that You Need to Purchase
Always make sure that you have the specific model or part number of the auto part that you need. If you still have the owner’s manual of your vehicle, always check the part numbers of the components that need replacement. You do not want to buy an expensive part only to find out later on that it does not match the specifications of your vehicle.
A much better approach will be to bring the auto part with you. Show the seller or the auto parts store representative the item so they will have something to compare. This is one of the best ways you can ensure you get the right part.
An alternative will be to look at the Vehicle Identification Number of your car. You can also use the chassis number if the VIN is not available. Use this information to perform a thorough online search.
Ask about the History of the Used Auto Part You Wish to Buy
Some auto parts stores may not be that honest when it comes to selling you the parts that you need. Hence, learning more about the history of the auto part is crucial so you do not end up with an item that will not last long.
Remember that many of these items may undergo “rejuvenation” so that they will look like new. They may appear perfect, but may have hidden cracks or defects that may fail later on. If the store does not offer any warranty or refunds for your purchases, then you will only be wasting your money on a useless product.
Always ask about the age of the auto parts. The seller should know the mileage on the item. A more important point to ask is whether the item has already been subjected to modifications, repairs, or rebuild. If you receive a less than definite answer, then you may want to check the price. If it is far lower than what you may expect, then it is more a reflection of the item’s uncertain history.
Be Clear about the Store’s Policies on Returns
There are auto parts stores that do not accept product returns or issue refunds for items purchased. Whatever you do, do not leave the store without a very clear idea as to their return policy.
For those that have a return policy, these are often printed very fine. They do this intentionally so that you will not read through the rest of the provisions. Pay special attention to the exclusions or exceptions for such policies. For example, they may only accept refunds or returns within 30 days. Online sellers are also known for putting a hefty restocking fee in case you purchased a wrong automotive part by mistake.
Make sure that you understand these provisions before making any serious attempts to purchase the product. Again, it is important to emphasize having the right part number to save you from the hassles of returns or refunds.
Know that Certain Automotive Parts are Best Replaced with Brand New Ones
The reason why some people go for second hand parts is because of budget constraints. This is understandable. However, it is also critical to understand the implications of buying critically-important parts. If you’re buying a side mirror, then a second-hand unit might suffice. But if you are talking about a spark plug, would you compromise the performance of your engine for a few dollars of savings?
Auto parts that tend to wear quite fast should always be replaced with brand new parts. Examples of these include brake rotors, brake pads, and starters. As for large automotive parts that are critical to your car’s overall performance, these should always come with a formidable warranty. At the very least, each of these should come with a lengthy warranty of not less than 12 months. Examples of these include the alternator, transmission and radiator, among others.
One has to keep in mind that these components are very important for the performance of your car. You can save several tens of dollars but how long do you think these items will last before you start looking for a replacement again?
Don’t Forget to Ask about Warranties for the Parts You’re Going to Buy
Akin to what we said about learning the return policy of the store, understanding warranties for the product you want to buy is crucial. The warranty statement should be very clear from the very start. Do not pay for any item until you have read and understood the warranty and its provisions.
Car wreckers or junkyards can extend the warranty of the items that you purchase if you ask them to. Auto parts stores can also have their warranties written in fine print. As always, you have to read through each line of the text. Digest every wording. If there are some provisions that you cannot understand, ask the representative.
The warranty that online sellers offer may be a little trickier than that of actual sellers. Some of these may have unnecessary “catches” or caveats to their warranties. Some may also phrase their warranty statements in a very cunning way. Again, be sure to read and understand whatever the online seller is telling you as his or her warranty.
Always Bring an Expert with You When Buying Used Car Parts
There are many reasons why you should always bring an automotive expert with you whenever buying second hand or used car parts. This is especially true if you are not familiar with the part that you have to buy.
However, it is critical to choose someone you can trust or someone you know on a more personal level. There are some people who may have a vested interest in an auto parts store. If he does not want you to try other stores, there is a chance that he has an interest in the transaction.
It is always a good idea to have a trusted mechanic by your side during such purchases. He will be able to provide invaluable feedback as to the right auto part to buy. He may also help you spot a fake from an authentic part. They are also knowledgeable about certain features and characteristics of each part.
Learn How to Spot a Fake
Counterfeit products comprise an issue that is not only prevalent in certain sectors or industries. It is also pervasive in the auto parts industry. You may have the right part number for the VIN of your car but these parts do not come from the car manufacturer themselves.
If you have ever been to Asia, you may have already heard of Original, Class A, Class B, and other “classes” of makes for the same product. This class designation refers to the origins of the item. If it is OEM, then you can be sure that it is from the manufacturer itself. If it is Class A, it is not from the manufacturer, but from a country with reputable manufacturing practices.
It is, thus, critical to learn how to spot the fake from the genuine auto part. Look for misprinted words, misplaced critical components, and botched logos, among others. If you have a trustworthy mechanic with you, he can help you determine whether an auto part is genuine or not.
Match the Color and Style to the Original
Whenever buying second hand auto parts for the exterior of your vehicle, it’s imperative to look at its aesthetics. First, consider the color of the auto part. Does it match the paint on your car? It would be an eyesore if it is a few shades lighter or darker than the color of your car.
Second, look at the styling of the auto part. It should blend well with the existing design aesthetics of your car. In other words, make sure that the auto part will enhance the aesthetic qualities of your ride and not detract from it. This will help you determine whether you have the right part for your car or not.
Buying second-hand or used auto parts can be a tricky affair. Keep in mind these 10 tips so you will be a smarter buyer of used car parts.
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