Cutting Car Repair Costs

The workers at this auto salvage yard are taking apart cars that have been totaled, retrieving every usable part. Buying used car parts can save you a bundle.

Anthony Martino, a salvage yard owner explains, "That total door might cost you 2,500 dollars, OK, if you bought all the components new. If you bought it used, it cost you maybe a thousand dollars. So you're saving close to half."

While people can come to the shop to look for used parts, the owner says many of his customers check out availability and prices online.

Unless you're doing the repair yourself, Consumer Reports says before you shop, check whether your mechanic will do the work and what, if any, guarantee the shop will provide.

Jon Linkov with Consumer Reports suggests, "And be sure to check on whatever warranty the seller offers. They generally last between one and six months. If there is no warranty, check to see that at least you can return the part."

But Consumer Reports says there are certain parts you should never buy used.

Jon says, "Avoid buying anything that's related to safety or the functioning of the car. Those parts should only be bought new or rebuilt by a reputable supplier."

Those car parts include: seat belts, air bags, brake parts, and electronic sensors that monitor system problems.

Jon adds, "The safest things to buy used are parts like mirrors, bumpers, and alloy wheels. Even used parts like side-window glass and hoods can be safely installed."

Once you find the part, ask the supplier if it meets original equipment manufacturer or O-E-M specifications. That way you know you are getting a part that the dealer or authorized mechanic would use.

When you shop for replacement parts, you'll need the make, model, and year of your car, as well as the VIN number. It's also helpful if you have the number of the part.

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