9 Car Parts That Are Safe to Buy Used


You can save a lot of money buying used car parts instead of new for vehicle repairs. Options range from scavenging parts at junkyards, through buying rebuilt parts that have been reconditioned and tested to meet original performance specifications. eBay, Craigslist, auto repair shops, and junkyards are all places where you can find used parts.

Even though used parts are less expensive than new, not all used car parts make sense to install. Some tend to wear significantly with use and age, and may even be unsafe to use as replacements. Which used car parts are worth buying to save some money? These are your best bets.

1. Rims

The chrome rims on my son's 13-year-old car were leaking air due to corrosion and peeling finish. Since it was time to get new tires anyway, I decided to replace the rims with good old steel rims. My shop recommended contacting the local junkyard to find some good steel rims for cheap. If you want fancy alloy rims, sometimes you can find these on wrecked cars for a fraction of the cost of new. Just make sure the used rims are not bent or corroded.

2. Spare Tires

My old car was missing its spare tire, but I didn't want to pay $150 for a new one. The solution to my problem was a $50 spare tire from a junkyard — this included the "doughnut" spare tire rim and an unused spare tire. The spare tire I found was four years newer than my car, so it was better than the original spare that I was missing.

3. Mirrors

You wouldn't think a broken side mirror would be very expensive to replace, but a heated mirror can cost over $150 if you go with a new one. Rear view mirrors can be expensive to replace too, especially if it has a compass display, lighting, or other special features. Used mirrors are just as good as new ones and can be found for less than half the price.

4. Windows

If you need to replace a cracked or shattered window or sunroof on your car, consider saving some money by finding a used one. Not only can you save on the window glass, but you can find power window motors, hardware, and power window switches with lots of life left for cheap compared with new parts.

5. Power Locks

Eventually power lock solenoids and switches can wear out, leaving you without the convenience of working power locks on your car. When you see the price of replacement power lock parts, you might decide that you can live without them. But don't despair — check out used power lock parts for a fraction of the cost of new.

6. Transmission

A new transmission can run thousands of dollars. Depending on the age of your car, you might want to lower your repair bill significantly and go with a rebuilt used transmission instead of a new one.

7. Tires

Sometimes it makes sense to buy used tires, especially for an older car that may not make it much longer. Another prime situation for buying a used tire is if your car has older tires and you only need to replace one that has gone flat and cannot be repaired. When buying used tires, be sure to check the code stamped on the side of the tire to determine the date of manufacture. Even if the tires look good, sidewalls get brittle with age and can weaken, increasing the risk of a blowout for tires more than six to 10 years old.

8. Alternator

The wire windings on an alternator can crack and break down as it ages, leaving your car unable to generate enough current to charge the battery and leaving you stranded when your battery finally goes dead. Rebuilt alternators have the old wire winding replaced with new wire, and the voltage regulator is tested and replaced if needed. I have used rebuilt alternators on several occasions to save some money.

9. Interior Parts

Used parts can be a great way to go if you need to replace a car seat, floor mats, steering wheel, or interior trim pieces. Used replacement parts may have some wear and tear, but you can likely find them in similar condition to the rest of your vehicle.

What used car parts have you used to save money on car repairs?

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Guest's picture
Hazel Owens

I didn't know that transmissions can safely be bought used. However, I've seen the price tag for new transmissions, so I welcome any way to reduce that price. If my transmission ever needs replacing, I'll definitely be asking my mechanic if I can give them a used one to use instead of having them buy a new one. Thanks for the info!

Guest's picture

Wrong! I'm going on the forth alternator in 3 weeks. Fourth will be new.

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