In an economy that is in a state of constant flux, the prospect of losing your car can be very frightening. Because of this, routine car maintenance is essential, however, with many Americans tightening their belts, true maintenance may not be entirely possible.
Unfortunately, while a disabled auto is something we can ill afford, it is a great inevitability. The good news is that there is a viable solution for those who suddenly have a malfunctioning vehicle on their hands -- the purchase of used car parts.
That's all well and good, you may be thinking, but just how does one acquire a used car part?
Where to Go
The modern consumer can find many used auto parts in mainstream automotive stores. To get an amazing deal, however, it may be wise to go to salvage. Here, you will save a ton of money by bringing relevant tools and pulling the part out of the vehicle yourself.
You should begin by performing online and/or physical searches for local salvage and scrap yards that have cars matching your vehicle's make and model. The main caveat here is to really make sure the item you purchase is working. Be especially cautious about high ticket items like engines, alternators, transmissions, electrical units and anything that would be considered too expensive to replace easily.
A quality salvage yard offer state of the art systems that can test the viability of the part. Before you purchase, insist on this diagnostic testing.
What to Ask and Look For
Of course, since you are trying to save money, cost will be a factor in where you shop. Even so, try not to go too cheap-remember, you get what you pay for.
When looking into the salvage, be sure to comparison shop and get the best price possible for a quality part. Once you narrow your choices, visit the shop yards to take a look at the unit. If you are a bit of a neophyte in this regard, have a friend or relative who knows a lot more about cars accompany you.
Before paying any money, see if the company offers guarantees, returns or exchanges for products that fail to perform properly; make sure this agreement is in writing. If at all possible, try to obtain the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as this can be especially handy in ascertaining the viability of its parts.
Avoiding Potential Problems
Beware of chop shops or yards that appear to be extremely disorganized - this can signal an unprofessional company, increasing your odds of getting a defective unit. Also, look to see if diagnostic and cataloguing equipment is current as this will give you greater assurance that any info gathered is relevant.
You also want to be absolutely sure you acquire a part that is made specifically for your car's make and model-putting the wrong parts in your car can cause further damage, adding to the final cost of repair.
It's a risk not worth taking.
Of course, you can skip the U-Pull-It or salvage option altogether and go to an automotive store that offers used parts, however, this won't guarantee viability. Parts are usually marked up as well, so they will be more expensive than salvaged units.
In the end, all the effort would be well worth it. Not only will you save money, you will aid in conservation efforts recycling the parts. With all these facts considered, buying used auto parts can be a win-win, especially if one is smart about their hunt and eventual purchase.