Salvage yards and online auto parts dealers are convenient for many car owners who prefer to do their own car repairs, restorations, and maintenance. Car parts are expensive, and if you can pull a perfectly good part from an old car for less, why not do it? Not only does it save you some cash, buying used car parts is the more Eco-friendly option. It keeps the used parts out of the landfill. And some car parts are obviously fine to use, like hubcaps, mirrors, or steering wheels. But not every car part is considered salvageable. For example, it's usually considered inadvisable to buy used air bags. What about car batteries, transmissions, or tires? Take a look at what you need to know about buying these items used.
If you've been driving for a long time, you probably remember the old car batteries that could be revitalized by adding water to the battery. Newer car batteries do not usually work that way. They're designed to be maintenance-free, which means that they're made to run as long as they run, and you can't open them up or add anything to them.
A used battery won't hurt your car, as long as it's the correct battery for your vehicle. However, it may not be worth the money to buy a used battery. The average car battery lasts about five years, and more advanced batteries last for seven to ten years. If you manage to get your hands on a used battery that's only a year or two old and it's a good price, it may be worth buying it for the years that it has left. But if you don't know how old the battery is, or if it's approaching the five-year mark, you're better off getting a new battery with a warranty.
If you're doing the work on the car yourself, whether or not to buy a used transmission depends greatly on your skill as a mechanic. There isn't anything wrong with using a rebuilt or refurbished transmission. Transmission shops rebuild old transmissions all the time. But if you prefer to do your own mechanical work and don't feel confident enough to rebuild a transmission, buying a new one is probably a better idea. It's easier to put a working transmission in than it is to take apart and rebuild an old one. Alternatively, you could buy a used transmission and pay a professional mechanic to rebuild it, but run the numbers first to see whether it might be cheaper to just buy a new transmission.
You can look for a used transmission that comes with a guarantee that it will work, but many salvage yards and used auto parts dealers won't offer one – or if they do, it will be a very limited guarantee, and you may find yourself in the same position a few months from now. Buying a new transmission is probably the safest way to go if you don't know how to rebuild one yourself.
For used tires, you may not even have to go to a salvage yard – there are plenty of tire shops that sell used tires for a lower price than the new one. Are they a good deal? It depends. The problem is that a bad set of tires – or even just one bad tire – can lead to some incredibly dangerous road hazards. So, if you're interested in buying used tires, it's important to know exactly what to look for.
Examine the sidewalls of the tires to make sure that they're not scratched and banged up. Check the inside and the outside of the tire for patches, bubbling, or uneven wear. Make sure that no wire is sticking through the tires and that there's plenty of tread. You can check the tire tread with the penny test. Just hold a penny between your thumb and forefinger and insert the penny into the tread grooves, with Lincoln's head facing down. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, then the grooves are deep enough to be safe. However, if all of Lincoln's head is visible, then the tires are too worn to be considered safe.
Don't be afraid to ask questions when you're talking to your used auto parts seller, such as Apartsmart. These sellers are used to questions from amateur mechanics and hobbyists, and they're usually happy to answer. The more information you have, the more you can be sure of ending up with the right part in good condition.