A guide to buying used car parts and repairing your car
If you're willing to learn a bit about car maintenance and you don't mind rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty, you could save a great deal of money by repairing your own car.
You can source replacement parts – possibly finding a generic part rather than the more expensive branded versions produced by the original motor manufacturer – and fit them yourself rather than take your car to the garage, saving both on labour costs and any extra the garage would have added on to the cost of the spares.
Sourcing replacement parts
You only have to type the name of the spare part you need into Google to find a huge range of suppliers for most car parts, but how do you know which suppliers to trust? From individuals selling items on eBay to professional vehicle dismantling companies and spare parts suppliers, there are lots of different sources to choose from.
Before you make a purchase, compare the price from different suppliers, check the delivery times, and make sure there is a clear guarantee offered on any parts supplied. Whether parts are new or used, they should come with a guarantee. The more professional suppliers will respond to your enquiry within the day, letting you know how quickly they can supply the part you need (often offering next day delivery_, making your life a lot easier.
Alternatively, many spare parts can be found in high street shops such as the Halfords chain, whose online 'Vehicle Look Up' facility enables you to find the right parts to fit you car, from spark plugs to air filters and glow plugs – which you can then order online or in store.
Sourcing hard-to-find parts
If you have a less conventional vehicle whose parts are relatively rare, it may be impossible to find the right spares in high street shops or on general motor parts websites.
Motoring magazines often feature adverts from specialist suppliers for particular makes of vehicle. Specialist motoring websites are another good source of information, often hosting discussion forums where you can ask fellow owners for advice and recommendations.
Repair or replace?
Some parts can be repaired, but others are best replaced. Your decision will depend on how badly the part is damaged, how much it will cost to repair or replace, and whether it is a vital mechanical part that it would be safer to replace with a new part, or a used part that has been thoroughly tested.
Some parts are more prone to wear and tear or damage than others, so it may be worth buying spares for these parts just in case the original breaks, particularly if they are inexpensive. That way you can get your car back on the road quickly, rather than having to order and wait for the spare part to arrive. Cold weather can push ageing car batteries or worn windscreen wipers to the limit, for example, so you could buy in spares and learn how to fit them just in case.