When your vehicle is in need of repair, the cost of new parts could throw off your entire budget if it's not covered under warranty. Fortunately, if you're able to find used car parts for sale, they may be a viable option. In addition to saving you a substantial amount of money, buying used parts also helps the environment by keeping perfectly usable materials out of landfills. Making repairs is also smart if you're thinking about selling your car, so here's what you should know.

When Can Buying Used Parts Save Money?

Let's face it: There are some car parts you simply shouldn't buy used. However, there are a number of replacement parts that you can very well pick up from your local salvage yard or even an online source without a second thought.

When it comes to used car parts, the best things to look for include:

  • Rims: Just make sure they aren't corroded or bent in any way.
  • Spare Tires: You might even find one newer than your vehicle.
  • Mirrors: A replacement heated side mirror could easily cost over $100. Used ones often cost half that.
  • Windows: In addition to the glass, you can also find power window motors and similar parts.
  • Power Locks: When your power locks wear out, used parts can save you a lot of money.
  • Transmission: A rebuilt transmission can cost thousands less than a new one.
  • Tires: Be sure to check the manufactured date on the inside of the wall. Tires over six years old are more likely to be brittle and blow out.
  • Alternator: Rebuilt alternators have new wire winding and a tested voltage regulator, meaning they should work just like new, but cost far less.
  • Interior Parts: Car seats, trim pieces, floor mats, and a steering wheel -- all of these parts could be bought new.

This list isn't extensive, so if you're trying to replace or repair something on your car, be sure to ask a trusted mechanic if buying used parts would be a wise, money-saving decision over a brand new replacement.

Where to Find Used Car Parts for Sale

In order to find used car parts for sale that fit your needs, the first place you should check is local salvage yards. Depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle (and how many are on the road), finding a high-quality part for it may be a challenge.

Salvage yards will carry auto parts for both cars and trucks. Your local market will determine if it's easy to find the truck parts or car parts you need, as these places will only have cars from the local area that were "totaled" by insurance companies or dumped by owners who thought them beyond repair.

Before you spend your time hunting in a lot that could be dozens of acres large with thousands of cars, it's best to call the office. They'll be able to tell you whether or not they have a car similar to yours or any parts that may be of value to you. Some salvage yards don't keep an inventory of parts, but rather an inventory of all vehicles on their property. Calling ahead lets you know if they have your make and model - you may have to do the part search yourself. Alternatively, you can visit an online salvage yard, which is basically a website where you can buy used parts straight from a warehouse that stores them.

Buying used parts online may cost you more, but you may also find the search is far quicker (and offers more options) since you're no longer limited by what your local junkyard carries. This makes finding rare parts and parts for less popular models easier. It also saves you time searching for a local yard for what you need.

Considerations When Purchasing Used Parts

To help ensure your search for used car parts is fruitful, keep the following in mind:

Know Exactly What You're Looking For

If you're not sure of the exact model number of the part you need, don't hesitate to speak with the repair technician and ask for that information. Buying the wrong used car part, say for a car one model year older or newer, will only end up costing you time and money in the event that it's not compatible.

Look for a Warranty

Any parts you purchase from a salvage yard are generally sold "as is," which is fine for things like glass, but can be an issue if you're purchasing something electrical or mechanical. If you're purchasing a rebuilt transmission, for instance, make sure you're buying it from a reputable used parts dealer who offers a warranty or refund policy.

It's not always possible to find such a deal, but you should be wary when buying without one. After all, things can easily be cleaned up to look nice, but there may be hidden cracks or other flaws that compromise the part's actual function. When in doubt, ask about the history of the part, understand the dealer's policies, and make sure you read reviews before buying a part from just anywhere.

Consider Bringing an Expert

If you're lucky enough to have a friend or family member who knows used car parts — or even a technician who's willing to tag along and help you make an informed decision — be sure you bring them with you. Not only can they offer insight into the actual condition and value of a part, but they can also help you spot a fake.

It may surprise you, but there are a lot of counterfeit parts on the market. An expert can help you determine if a part is genuine by checking serial numbers, the placement of components, and so on.

When is it Time to Sell Your Used Car?

Ultimately, buying used auto parts can save you a substantial amount of money when it comes time to make repairs. However, if you find yourself making regular trips to the mechanic's shop, it may be time to sell your used car. If your car becomes more trouble than it's worth, consider passing it on.

Within minutes, you can have your car listed on PrivateAuto and start getting inquiries right away. Plus, with our test drive scheduler, electronic signature capture, and secure transaction services, we can make sure the entire sale is safe and worry-free.