No one looks forward to the day when their beloved car breaks down, especially if heading to the mechanic is out of the question. Today’s most industrious drivers fix their cars themselves, which takes time, knowledge, and a good deal of work. It also takes access to affordable car parts, which generally means buying used.

Finding the right used car parts is much more of a challenge than buying new parts from a dealership, but DIY mechanics know that when they need car parts that don’t cost more than the cars are worth, dealerships are not a viable option. Instead, try the various methods for finding used car parts described below. Some of them take some time, others take a good deal of extra work or knowledge. The most efficient of them will get backyard mechanics exactly the right parts when they need them at prices they can afford.

Online Parts Suppliers

By far the most straightforward way to find used car parts is to head online to find a specialized supplier that ships to the mechanic’s area. All buyers need to know is the year, make. and model of the car and what kind of part’s required. From there, they can pay a reasonable price for the part and shipping costs, then have it delivered directly to their doorstep. 

This approach can get complicated for large or expensive parts, so it’s important for car owners that need things like engines and transmissions to shop around. Some vendors charge for shipping, while others offer free shipping as a perk to buyers. It’s also a good idea to look for a vendor that has a warranty policy covering all of its parts, especially the large, expensive ones.

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Junk Yards and Pick-and-Pulls

Sometimes, buying online isn’t an option. This might be the case if, for example, the part needs to be replaced immediately and the vendor can’t have it shipped out in time. When it comes to buying parts in person, pick-and-pulls are the way to go, so that’s the next place drivers should check. Today’s pick-and-pull junk yards rotate through a constant supply of fresh stock and keep the vehicles organized to make it easier to find the right ones. 

The prices are typically quite low at junk yards, which gets them another point in their favor in terms of efficiency. However, these establishments don’t offer warranties. Buyers get what they get, and if that happens to be an engine or transmission that looks great but doesn’t run, that’s not the junk yard’s problem.

Specialty Salvage Yards and Shops

Drivers looking for parts for older or more obscure cars sometimes have a hard time shopping online or at local junk yards. They may need to do some extra research and track down specialty salvage shops. The saving grace is that unusual cars almost always have something of a community around them, which means there are usually at least a few shops catering to those groups of enthusiasts.

Don’t Give Up

Start by checking online for high-quality used parts. If the right parts aren’t available at reasonable prices, it’s time to start putting in some extra work. Checking local scrap yards, pick-and-pulls, salvage yards, and specialty shops takes time and effort in a way that buying used parts online does not, but it’s sometimes the only way to find parts for unusual or obscure vehicles.

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