The reality is that vehicles have a way of breaking down and needing replacement parts as wear and tear starts to set in. Parts need to be replaced and we will have to spend some time deciding on used or new ones. For decades people have made businesses out of giving us a wide variety of options in the types of parts we buy. We can choose whether or not to buy new, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), rebuilt or used parts. Some of these options can save you a ton of cash, but you should do your research before deciding which type of parts you want to buy.
First, you should know the difference between OEM, rebuilt and used parts.
Rebuilt parts are sort of exactly what they sound like. The rebuilder takes dysfunctional part and rebuilds components of it in order to make it work again. The parts that are used to rebuild it may or may not be new. If your part is too damaged to be rebuilt, they will take a piece from another vehicle, called a core part, to be used instead.
-There is usually a warranty that lasts for a short time period on these parts depending on the supplier
-They are usually pretty affordable
-Rebuilt parts only work temporarily. When parts get rebuilt, some components are older than others, but every piece is worn. Heat and stress from use cause invisible cracks and wear. So, the rebuilt part will eventually fail and/or cause problems.
-May fail at random and could result in needing emergency vehicle repairs
Used parts come from other vehicles, and whether or not they will even work depend on what sort of establishment you buy them from. Sometimes you can find used parts from reputable dealers and quality salvage yards that work as they should.
-They are cost efficient.
-They can help when you are in a pinch to get your vehicle back up and running more quickly than having to order a part in.
-Most salvage yards leave cars and parts outside, which means that parts may be exposed to the elements depending on the setup of the facility.
-Many salvage yards have a habit of leaving cars and parts strewn randomly about. They have no categorization system with which to find the parts you need.
-They may use the quickest method to remove your parts (like torches and saws), not the correct methods (like wrenches and screwdrivers), and it can result in damaged parts.
-Seldom come with warranties
These parts are factory remanufactured to restore their mechanical tolerances. In a remanufactured part, everything is replaced with new components. The only times that the original parts are used are when they are in excellent, top-notch condition.
-Warranties last longer than on rebuilt parts
-Usually cost less than totally new parts
-They will usually break down at some point before a new part would, they will generally last longer than a rebuilt part will.
You will also need to know which types of parts you can replace with used or rebuilt parts. Never replace anything rubber or consumable with used parts. This includes hoses, wipers, brake lines, belts and any other rubber parts. You can use used electrical parts, in some instances. It depends on the specific part, and it depends on the dealer, and exposure to the elements. You definitely should not purchase a used electrical part from any dealer that is less than reputable.
As far as engines go, you can usually get away with buying them used or rebuilt. You can save money by doing this because they are more expensive to buy new. There are a few things to know when buying a used engine, however. It may seem like a good idea to buy one that has low mileage on it, but even engines with low mileage could have been in accidents. So, whether you buy an engine used, rebuilt or new, get a warranty, and do research on the place you buy it from.
So, when you are looking for replacement auto parts, is it better to go new, or are used parts a better value? It really depends on the type of part you need and where you buy it from. You should ask your trusted mechanic. Not only will a good mechanic perform an assessment to determine whether you can get away with buying used parts, they will give you honest recommendations. At the end of the day, a little knowledge on your part coupled with an honest and reputable mechanic really go a long way toward any vehicular maintenance and repair decisions you may encounter.