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Expert Advice: Used vehicle parts

Do you have a financial question that's keeping you up at night? Ever wished you could get a second, or third, opinion on what to do with your money? Here's your chance: Bankrate.ca hosts a monthly feature whereby you submit a question, and we ask industry experts to weigh in. The topics are up to you -- you ask the questions, and we'll get the answers.

Here's this month's question: "If I'm looking to save money in car repairs, is it a good idea to buy used parts?"

In the era of reduce, reuse and recycle, buying used parts for your automobile can make sense. But not all parts are created equal. Experts agree buyers have to be well informed about the type of parts they purchase and who they buy from.

Gone are the days of trawling through the junkyard with a screwdriver and ripping parts off vehicles put to pasture. Today, the industry has gone high-tech -- individuals and companies sell used parts online via dedicated websites or the likes of eBay and Kijiji, while specialized auto recyclers strip used vehicles, cataloging parts in computerized databases with customer-friendly search engines and storing items warehouse-style.

The preferred term these days is quality replacement part (QRP) and the biggest incentive is savings -- often 20 per cent to 60 per cent less than new. Is this the right option for you?

Michael Carcone, owner, Carcone's Auto Recycling, Aurora, Ont.
There are many incentives for using recycled parts, says Carcone. "Apart from the savings, you are helping the environment by preserving our natural resources, preventing pollution and saving valuable landfill."

The top five parts purchased from his facility are wheels, engines, transmissions, doors and bumpers.

Carcone says not all recycled parts are a good idea -- braking parts, clutches and some exhaust parts should be avoided, as well as anything not covered under warranty.

"Today the modern and progressive recycler will ensure quality and reliability with all the products they sell," he says, adding some recyclers offer extended warranties, which cover not only parts but also labour costs to reinstall a new part. "Our warranties are often longer than actual OEM (original equipment manufacturer) warranties."

Find a local recycler online or through word of mouth. "Ask your technician -- they'll know someone in the industry," says Carcone. Or, check out local trade associations, such as the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association. "Rest assured that anyone listed on your provincial website is a quality recycler that will look after your every need."

When buying used parts there are three things to remember, says Carcone: "It's good for the earth, good for your wallet, and good for your vehicle."

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-- Posted February 29, 2012
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