Used Car Parts 101: When to Settle for Secondhand and When to Splurge

Car ownership isn’t a responsibility to take lightly, especially when our vehicles can be bottomless money pits. Whether you’re currently dealing with your vehicle’s gas-guzzling tendencies, struggling to keep up with monthly oil changes, or attending to repairs that seem to appear out of thin air, reducing car-related expenses will likely clear the top of your priority list.

All Truck & Car, a company that handles auto salvage in Utah, recommends that vehicle owners scroll through customer reviews before making a trip out to the auto salvage yard nearest them. Once you’ve screened nearby salvage yards and ranked them according to reliability and affordability, it’s time to venture out into the world of used car parts. 

For those drivers new to salvage yards, you may struggle to distinguish between thrifty-friendly car parts and those repairs that require brand-new parts in pristine condition. Although before familiarizing yourself with the situations when settling for secondhand will suffice, you’ll need to brush up on the most commonly replaced car parts. That way, you’ll know what parts to keep your eyes peeled for on your next trip to the local salvage yard. 


A battery’s performance starts reducing as it ages. When your battery starts acting up, it suffers low charge, meaning the vehicle can’t start without jump-starting it. When a battery starts malfunctioning, it’s in your best interest to replace it and avoid potential inconveniences when you’re miles away from home.

HID lights

Brake lights, signals, and taillights are, arguably, some of the most vital parts of any vehicle. Because of their continuous use, your headlights’ bulbs are likely to blow at random.  The remedy for a burned-out bulb is a replacement. When swapping out your bulbs, you should always inspect your headlights thoroughly. 


As roadside debris’ first point of contact, your windshield is highly susceptible to cracking and breakage. While you can spread clear tape on the windshield as a prevention measure, you should address extensive damage by replacing the panel.

Spark plugs

Faulty spark plugs can lead to car-starting difficulties, rough idling, and slow acceleration. A car owner can first try to repair the old plugs by unscrewing them and cleaning the threads. If the problem persists, consider replacing the spark plugs altogether.

Door handles and locks

As one of the most used parts of the car, your door handles and locks are subject to daily wear-and-tear. For example, some drivers may find their keys stuck and broken inside the lock. In other cases, your vehicle’s locks may fail to unlock, and door handles may break for seemingly no reason. Unfortunately, you can’t repair door handles by screwing them back in.  Much like door handles, you should replace faulty locks at the first sign of trouble.

Things to consider before buying secondhand

Before deciding to buy a secondhand car part over a brand-new part from a local dealership, there are several considerations to make. To ensure a seamless repair or replacement, inquire about the following: 

· The history of the part 

· The cost of the used part as compared to that of a new part

· Availability of the part

Thrift-friendly parts

Thrift-friendly parts tend to be very costly if bought new. Most car mechanics will advocate for thrift-shopping in the following circumstances. Note that those parts deserving of a place on this list are primarily non-mechanical parts such as body panels. Other parts you can buy second hand include:

• Body panels

• Car bumpers

• Exhaust panels

• Grills

• Steering wheels

• Speakers and car stereos

• Sunroofs

• The interior trim

Car parts you should buy new

When purchasing car replacement parts, acknowledge that there are specific circumstances when buying brand-new parts is unavoidable. Unfortunately for those hyper-frugal vehicle owners, there are particular parts with relatively short lifespans. With used car parts, the lifespan will be but a fraction of the already short life expectancy. 

Note that this list features car parts with limited or nonexistent warranties, as a warranty guarantees the seller information about the product’s quality. Below are some examples of parts you must buy new:

• Car battery

• Brake pads

• Catalytic converters

• Air filters

• Ignition coils and points

• Spark plugs

Cons of purchasing used car parts

• Minimum or no warranty offered

• There’s no history of the vehicle where the part was salvaged

• Lower lifespan, especially for movable parts as compared to new parts

Pros of purchasing new car parts

Deciding to buy car parts new from a dealer has several disadvantages, such as cost. However, the advantages of buying new easily outshine these few detractions. Below are some of the reasons you should opt for new parts as opposed to used car parts. They include:

• There’s a full warranty for the product

• Longer lifespan for the part

• You get the latest version of the spare part

• New parts help improve the car’s overall performance

Parting shot

Carrying out car repairs can be an expensive ritual, depending on the parts that need replacement and the frequency of these repairs. To reduce these expenses, opt for used parts, which are generally cheaper. However, it is essential to be careful and involve a professional before installing a used part.

Author: Brandon Park