Buying used auto parts is a great way to save money, find rare components, and help the environment by reducing waste. On the other hand, getting the wrong part can frustrating, time-consuming, and potentially more costly than buying new from your local auto parts store. To guarantee a great buying experience, you need to ensure proper fitment for any used parts you buy.
While this may seem daunting at first glance, getting the right parts doesn't have to be challenging. These three tips will help you get a perfect match for your car every time.
1. Check and Double-Check Part Numbers
You know the make, model, and year of your car, but that may not be enough to get the exact part you need. Every manufacturer uses its own set of part numbers to distinguish one component from another, and you can usually find this information online. If not, you can try calling the parts department at a local dealership and telling them precisely what you need.
Before you purchase any used part, check and double-check that the part number matches the one need for your car. Many manufacturers use visually similar components across different models or trim levels, so don't assume a part that "looks right" is good enough. Without a matching part number, you may find that the part fits improperly or that a critical mounting point doesn't line up.
2. Look at the Donor Car
If you're getting your parts from a pick-and-pull yard, then this step is simple. On the other hand, it may be harder to get a look at the source of used parts when you're buying them off a shelf. Even in these cases, it never hurts to ask. Many salvage yards keep records of the exact donor cars they pulled each part from, so the staff may be able to provide this information or show you the vehicle.
While this method isn't as reliable as parts number, it's still helpful to confirm that the part you're buying came from a car just like yours. If the make, model, year, and trim level all match up, then you've got a good shot at a proper fit.
3. Bring Your Old Part
Try to always bring your old part with you when you're purchasing a used component in person. Don't simply check that both parts look similar, however. Instead, look at each part from multiple angles and pay special attention to bolt holes and other mounting points. Confirming that the two parts are visually identical serves as an excellent final check after comparing manufacturer part numbers.
Finding that a part doesn't fit can be frustrating, but you can easily ensure a smooth buying experience with a little time and research.