Some people are concerned about buying used auto parts because that are not sure about the quality of the part or where to find a good auto recycling business. "Where do I go to buy, how do I find the right part, what happens if the part isn't good, do I have to pull it myself, and is there any customer service?" There is some risk with buying used parts, but with a little effort you can save a lot of money by using recycled auto parts. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered here and I'll take a shot at resolving any concerns, because with a little research you can significantly lower your risk of buying used parts.
I think a good place to start when deciding on which place you want to buy parts from would be a referral. Either a friend or family member that has bought from an auto dismantler and had a good experience may have a recommendation. If you don’t know anyone that has bought parts for your type of car then look to the internet and search under terms like “used Audi parts” or “Audi auto recycler”. After you get some results then you can start doing some research on the businesses to see what kind of feedback they have received from their customers. Sites like Google places, Yelp, Facebook, and eBay can all provide you with information about the business along with reviews and ratings from customers.
Once you narrow down your choice of an auto dismantler then you can go to their websites and get information about their location, phone number and warranty. Regarding the warranty on used parts there are few things to consider as not all warranties that are the same length are the same. First off, most dismantling places don’t offer a labor warranty with their standard warranty that covers the installation of the part if it doesn’t work or goes bad during the time of the warranty. There are some places that offer this, but it is usually an additional cost. Next most warranties are a replacement warranty and therefore they don’t refund your credit card or give you cash in return if the part doesn’t work for some reason so it’s important to have it clear up front. Almost every dismantler that I know of will offer you a “yard credit” that allows you to return the part for a full credit to use on future purchases.
As you can see there is some risk to buying used parts, but I think it’s important to look at the reward that also available and make an informed choice on used parts in advance. Many times the decision will come down to the amount of potential savings vs. the potential risk of time and dollars. For example, if your car needs a part that you will pay a shop $700 to install and the part is $140- new and $60- used then I would say get the new one so you don’t risk the chance of it going bad and having to re-pay the shop another $700 to install it a second time. But many times you are either installing the part yourself or paying a shop and smaller cost to save a lot of money on the part. An example that comes to mind is an alternator. The alternator might be $350 new, but say you can get a used one that comes with a warranty for $75 and it only takes an hour or so to install then you get a huge savings that covers the small amount of risk.
Most of the time used parts will be good if the auto recycler takes the time to inspect and test the parts whenever possible, but occasionally the part is bad or goes bad during the warranty. Our warranty rate / returns is about 5% so given the amount of savings that are created with used parts is definitely a great way to save money. I heard one time that less than 10% of the population uses used parts to repair their car and it just blows my mind on the amount of savings and recycling that is not taking place because of this. Buying a used part will help save the environment as well since the part doesn’t have to use new materials to create it front scratch. Supporting auto dismantling businesses that recycle properly also helps keep the streets free of junk cars and makes sure that the hazardous materials and handled properly. What is your car but used parts anyway?
Let's say for example you recently had a small accident with your car. Maybe you were backing out of a parking spot and you didn't see that someone else just happed to be doing the same thing. You're bumpers have now met each other unexpectidly and now have some damage on them along with the broken tail light. If you're like a lot of people you don't want to have to make a claim with your insurance company and take the chance of increasing your insurance rates. Maybe you have a $500 to $1000 deductible. Most of the time, depending on the make or model of your car you can fix it yourself without getting the insurance company or body shop involved for the same or less than the cost of your deductible.
Another advantage to buying used parts is that sometimes you can find the bumper or any part for that matter in the same color as your car. If you have a 2003 Audi A4 for example the rest of the paint on the car is probably somewhat fadded from years of exposure to the weather so it makes sense to see if you can find a used part so that it matches the rest of the paint on your car. This way you don't have to pay for a new part and new paint that may not even match the rest of your car that well. Just last week we had two customers that did this process exactly. One purchased both the doors on the drivers side of the car for a 2005 Volkswagen Jetta in the same color as his car for $225. These doors came complete with all the hardware so its a simple bolt on replacement then they are done with the repair. If you bought the door shells new and had them painted it would have cost over $2000- to do this repair.
This can apply to just about any part on your car, including doors, fenders, hoods, bumpers, mirrors and more. Most auto recyclers have multiple colors available for each part and have the ability to check colors for you.
In the last blog post I said that its a good idea to "arm yourself with information" before going out to search for the part that you need for your car. The reason that this is important is so that you can save yourself time and money by getting the correct part the first time. Whether you are ordering online, over the phone, or going to pick up the part at the business it will be much more efficient for you if you get the right part the first time so that you can get your car back on the road as soon as possible and not waste money on restocking fees or shipping charges back and forth for incorrect used parts. Most auto parts recycling business charge restocking charges to compensate for the time they spend to pull the parts to get them ready for customers, but if you have good information before you buy the used part then you can avoid this expense.
Searching on google or other search engines about the specific problem that you are having with your car can provide you with some good sources to diagnose the problem with the car. If you are having a problem with the car, then there is a good chance that someone before you has experience the same problem and may have written something to a forum about issue. For example, if your 2006 Audi A4 has a problem with the radio not getting good reception you could search this and find out that there is a common problem with the antenna booster with these cars and a forum will show you where the part is, what the part number is, and how to replace the part once you locate a good replacement.
We specialize in used Audi and Volkswagen parts and almost every Audi or Volkswagen part will have its original part number stamped on it somewhere. Below is an example of the antenna booster and just below the Audi logo you can see the numbers 8E5 035 225 AF. This is the part number and you can reference this number to find the correct part the first time. The list price from the dealer on this part is $291.60 new , but you can buy it from us for less than half that price.
If you haven't bought used auto parts from an auto dismantling or recycling business before it can be intimidating. You may have some preconceived ideas of what dealing with an auto dismantling business or junkyard might be like. Maybe you are thinking of a gruff man with a bad attitude and smoking a cigar while a mean dog in the background is barking at you. Then the man points to a scrap yard full of crashed cars and tells you the part is "out there" and you have to find it and pull it from the vehicle.
The description above may have been accurate years ago and maybe there are a couple places left like that, but for the most part the industry has progressed to the point where you can have a good experience buying used parts from professional auto recycling businesses. With that said, I think it would be helpful to many people to have some information about how you can get the parts you need for a good price and fix your car for much less than other options. Over the next few postings to this blog I will address some information that I have gathered in my 30 plus years in the auto parts recycling business.
First its best to start by figuring out what is wrong with your car and what part that your need to solve your problem. There are a couple ways to diagnose the problem. One way is to take your car to a mechanic and ask them to figure out the problem, which is probably the best option if you don't have mechanical experience yourself. There are mechanics that will use used parts, but some are skeptical about it because of the warranty that a used part may or may not have and they don't want to get caught in the middle of a problem (more about that later). The other option is to figure out what the problem is with the car by yourself. There a many forums on the internet and YouTube videos that can help with just about any issue with cars. Many of these do it yourself options can be found by searching on the internet through google and other search engines.
Once you find out what the problem is with the car then you can arm yourself with good information when you call or email the auto parts recycling business of your choosing (next post on the blog). Now that you have narrowed down which part is bad, now you will have good information when you call to get your part. Most auto dismantling businesses have some working knowledge of cars, but for the most part they are not highly skilled mechanics that repair cars on a daily basis and almost no one can diagnose a car problem over the phone.
Any part number or specific name of the part can be a great help to recycling business to find you the correct part. Most auto dismantling places, even specialized ones, have thousands of different parts in their inventory and only about half of them can be inventoried and put in their computers because of some limitations in the computer program that is used. Most places are professional and will take the time to help you, but if you don't have the information needed they probably can not quote you a price or give you information about availability. An easy request would be something like "I have a 2001 Audi A6 with the 2.8 V6 engine and my alternator is bad". Providing the most information that you can up front will save you time and multiple phone calls.
I'm Vince FaGalde and I've been in the auto dismantling businesses since I was 15 working for my father pulling parts on the weekends and after school. Since then I have worked in every position in the industry and have owned three different specialized recycling businesses.