GUIDE – Buying Used Parts, The Overview

We’ve been selling used parts for about 25 years now. We’ve seen a lot of things, and dealt with some pretty interesting situations. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about our customers strengths and weaknesses along with their wants and needs. This guide will hopefully give you an idea of what to look for and what to expect when buying used parts. Not every “Junk Yard” is created equal and there’s some important tips that can really save you a lot of time and money.

This post assumes you’ve already decided who and where you’ll be having the work done. Check back for a future guide on picking out the right shop and deciding the right thing to do.

When your cars broken, you have a few different options for parts.

  • You can call up the local dealership and get a price on the parts you need. While pricey you’ll be sure you get an OEM part.
  • You can go to the local parts store / website and get a re manufactured or aftermarket part. While this could prove to be a good savings over dealer cost, the parts aren’t always that same quality as OEM
  • You can look online or locally for a Used OEM Part. Buying used gets you a quality OEM part at a huge savings over dealer price. Used parts can also carry better warranties vs the dealer and some parts stores.

It’s not the 70’s anymore. “Junk Yards” have evolved into Auto Recyclers.

Auto Recyclers are yards that uphold higher quality and service standards. Modern day salvage yards belong to associations that ensure the yard is doing everything correctly. From proper handling of waste fluids to proper handling of customer concerns. Using a salvage yard with some credibility will make all the difference in your buying experience.

Look for the Seals that build trust. These aren’t just marketing gimmicks.

Optimum Recycled PartsAutomotive Recyclers AssociationQuality Replacement PartsConnecticut Auto RecyclersARA Gold SealCertified Auto Recycler
These are just a few industry specific seals. Associations such as the ARA, CAR, and the Gold Seal program have strict requirements that must be met yearly. This includes verification of waste oil handling, EPA Standards, hazmat certifications, customer service standards, quality standards, and overall good business practices. Seals such as ORP and QRP show that the yard participates in its regional trading partner group. Trading partner groups are networks of salvage yards that work together to serve body shops and insurance companies with high quality parts.

Before you start…

Theres a few basics you need before starting your search for parts.

  1. First and fore most, you need to know what parts your looking for. If a mechanic is doing the work, have him explain what the part is, the name of it, and also any other nick names for the part.
  2. Know what your car is. Maybe an obvious tip but it’s some times overlooked. You need to know the basics about your car. Year, Model, Engine size (at least # of cylinders), number of doors, etc.   The more information you have in front of you the easier it’ll be.
  3. If at all possible, have the VIN # handy in case you need it. You can get this from the car itself, insurance paperwork, or the registration.
  4. Last but not least, Have a Good Attitude. No one wants to help some one thats rude to them. You’ll have much better results being curtious. Many places you call are more then willing to answer questions about your problem when asked in a pleasant manner.


When anyone buys a product or service, you have expectations before the purchase. When buying Used Auto parts it’s important to know what your buying and what you can expect. You should expect to get a good working, clean and tested used auto part. Remember that what your buying is a used part, it’s been in service previously but has been removed for re sale.

Before placing an order, be sure to review the companies shipping policy and ask for an ETA or tracking number for your item. Also inquire about what condition the item is and for body parts, ask if they’ll need to be repainted. Don’t take anything for granted and Especially don’t be afraid to ask any questions. If it’s a place with good customer service then they should be more then willing to help you.

Remember the Warranty! Just about all Auto Recyclers offer some type of Guarantee or Warranty. Inquire about the standard Guarantee and ask if theres an extended one available. Theres a good chance that a reputable salvage yard will give you a guarantee on parts that the dealership doesn’t even guarantee.

Wrap Up

This should give you a good overview on how to start your search, Remember to look for credibility, whether its the logos above, eBay feedback, Google reviews, or a friends referral. Just know who your dealing with before handing over your hard earned cash.

As always, you should start right here at Tom’s Foreign Auto Parts. Click here to start your search!