Friday, December 23, 2011

New Auto Parts vs. Used Auto Parts....What Should YOU Use?

Let's face it, in today's economy, money is tight! We're all trying to cut costs and pinch pennies where possible. So, when your vehicle breaks down or is damaged, is it better to use new or used parts to do your repairs? 

There are some obvious answers to this question. Things like brakes, windshield wipers, and other safety related repair parts should always be new! These parts are usually not that expensive and buying used would be ludicrous! But, when it comes to things like water pumps, alternators, transmissions, and even motors, you can definitely save yourself some money by purchasing used auto parts.

There are actually three different grades of auto parts.  New, meaning that the part has never been used. Used, which means that the part has been taken off of another vehicle.  And then there are "re-built" or "re-manufactured" parts. 

New parts are certainly the best way to replace most component parts of your car.  Aftermarket parts suppliers have a match for almost any part you can think of.  Our affiliated parts suppliers have almost every part you can think of that will bolt right on to your vehicle.  These are the most cost effective and definitely our choice over new OEM, used or even re-built.  These parts can be purchased on-line and sent directly to our shop.  We'll call you when they come in and schedule your appointment at that time!  Check out the link below for some great prices on aftermarket parts for your vehicle!

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Re-built auto parts are used auto parts that someone has re-built or re-manufactured and replaced the main components so that the part is "just like" new! This means that someone has taken the "old part" apart and removed the broken portions of the part and replaced those parts with new ones.  Re-built or re-manufactured parts usually come with a warranty that is very similar to the warranty on a new part. Unlike used auto parts, which may or may not have a warranty.

So, how do you decide if you should be purchasing new, used or rebuilt? Things that affect the safety of your vehicle should always be purchased new!  Things like windshield wipers, brake pads, belts, and hoses are inexpensive and just not worth the chance of using used parts. 

When it comes to things like water pumps, alternators, and starters, used or rebuilt parts will almost always save you money.  However, whether you use rebuilt or used does make a difference here.  Replacing a water pump on many vehicles requires a lot of labor and can be very expensive.  Sometimes upwards of $500 or $600 dollars.  If this is the case with your vehicle, we would definitely recommend going with rebuilt.  The reason for this is pretty simple.  If the job requires that much labor, it is safe to say that you won't want to be doing it twice!  Also, a repair shop is not going to warranty the labor on the job simply because your used part went bad, so the wise decision here is to go with the rebuilt part.  The same is true for alternators and starters.  Both of these parts get a lot of wear and tear and it's simply not smart to put a used one back in your vehicle.  Also, some alternators and starters, just like the water pump, are very expensive to replace due to labor costs.  So, the smart shopper will also purchase these rebuilt. 

The real decision making regarding used vs rebuilt comes when it's time to replace major components, like your transmission or motor.  Both of these components are very expensive, and for your average vehicle owner, unless the part is covered under a manufacturer's warranty or some other kind of warranty, or, for some reason, an insurance company, purchasing these auto parts new is simply cost prohibited.  So how does one decide whether to go with new or rebuilt

Again, the answer here revolves around cost.  A rebuilt motor or transmission is going to cost you more money than a used one.  Rebuilt parts will definitely save you money over the cost of a new one, but, depending on the model you're looking for, they can still set you back cost wise. 

In many cases, you can find some great deals on used parts at a salvage yard.  Good salvage yards will test these parts before putting them up for sale, and, in many cases, will even offer a "replacement warranty" on the part. Replacement warranties are exactly as the name implies.  They will replace the part if it goes bad within a certain period of time.  The key here is to find the best deal on a part that has the longest warranty period.  The other key factor here is the "milage" on the part.  Most salvage yards will keep a record of how many miles were on the vehicle they removed the part from.  So you can determine the amount of usage that the part has seen before you buy it.  Of course, the lower the milage, the more expensive the part!  However, milage is not the only determining factor you need to consider.  If it's possible, try to find a motor or transmission at the yard that is still in the vehicle!  Being able to see the vehicle that the part is comming out of will give you an idea of what kind of use the part has gotten.  After all, finding a used motor with extremely low milage means nothing if that motor sat for years in a vehicle that wasn't running for a long period of time!  The motor could have corrosion built up just from sitting around.  Same goes for the transmission.  Seeing the vehicle also gives you an idea of why the motor or trans are for sale.  If the car was involved in an accident, you can tell if the motor or trans might also have been damaged in the accident by where the car was hit.

If you can't find one that is still in the car, truck or suv, it is necessary to rely on the records of the salvage yard to make your decision.  Reputable salvage yards will tell you the reason for the salvage and the number of miles listed on the odometer when they pulled the part.  Look for the lowest milage available and then the price.  Remember, you get what you pay for!  AND, since there is significant labor involved in replacing either of these components, you should spend the maximum that you can afford to pay for the part and always make sure there is a warranty on the part!  The longer the warranty the better off you'll be.

The last parts we'll cover here are body parts.  You can purchase almost any body part at a salvage yard.  Doors, hoods, trunk or (deck lids) and even roof panels and quarter panels are available at your local junk yard.  Once again, unless an insurance company is paying for the part, buying these parts new from a dealership is cost prohibited for most of us!

Body panels do not come with warranties!  Unless, of course, they're new and even then, they are only warranted against factory defects.  The thing to remember here, is that there are "after-market" body panels available for most vehicles, especially if they are a little older.  After-market body panels come in different grades, but, the two most important differences are "CAPA certified" and "non-CAPA" certified.  CAPA certified parts meet the standards of the Certified Auto Parts Association of America and are made to the same standards as OEM.  Most insurance companies will insist on CAPA certified replacement body parts.

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Aftermarket parts are always significantly cheaper than OEM parts, and, more often than not, less expensive than purchasing used parts from a salvage yard.  Aftermarket parts do have to be prepped and painted, as they come from the factory in black, which is then "scuffed" or "sanded" and then primed and painted to match the existing vehicle color.  Always remember to add in the amount you will need to spend for painting when planning out your job using aftermarket parts.

At LDJ, we're always looking for ways to save you more money! You can supply your own aftermarket parts and save yourself the mark-up of us keeping the inventory.  The affiliates listed here offer great prices on aftermarket parts! You can place your order, have them shipped to us and we'll schedule your appointment when they arrive!

Used parts from a salvage yard are also a good value.  However, many salvage yards are going to be asking premium dollar for good quality used parts.  Most times, the used parts sold, are, of course, factory OEM parts.  Also, unless you get lucky enough to find a body panel in the same color as your car, it will also need to be painted. If there is any body work to be done to the used body panel, that will need to be factored in too.

Making the right decision about the parts used in the repair of your vehicle is key to saving money on your repair bill!  Feel free to call us at any time to speak to one of our technicians about your repairs.  We are there to help you make the decision that is best for you!

Hope you find this information helpful on your next repair! We look forward to helping you keep your car, truck, suv, or motorcycle in tip top shape!

Larry and Dee Blackman
LDJ Auto Body and Custom Shop
Gibsonton, FL
(813) 644-4497


  1. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good! Auto Parts

  2. Thanks magi! Register for our updates and receive more great articles from how-to, step by step instructions for many car projects, videos and more! This year, we will be posting many articles written by some of the best names in the auto industry. Our newest project, a 1966 Impala Super Sport just arrivved and we'll be doing a step by step instructional and informative tutorial on that as well.

    Larry and Dee Blackman
    LDJ Auto Body and Custom Shop

  3. Great advice! I usually end up asking my mechanic which he recommends, though this method only works if you have a mechanic you trust.

    1. Another great comment Auto Warranty. Also, purchasing an extended warranty on your vehicle will also make is easier to make the choice on which parts to use by making some of the parts a little more affordable!


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Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you! -Larry and Dee Blackman, LDJ Auto Body, Gibsonton, FL.