Tips for Buying Good Used Car Parts for DIY Repairs

In this post we consider 4 simple rules that would increase the chances of getting good used car parts for that your planned DIY repair. Even if you do not plan on carrying out the repair DIY style, you may need to be the one to buy the part(s) for your mechanic. Just a word of advice, If you leave your mechanic to shop for all your replacement parts, he MAY be ripping you off! Mine did this for years before I became a DIY freak and I caught him with a 214% inflated cost for new rotors asides labour fees! I consider this piece critical, especially for readers from Nigeria where you may be constrained to getting used OEM parts because available new ones are just cheap Chinese knock-offs.

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Used car parts

Another reason why you may need to use used OEM car parts in Nigeria is because new OEM parts may sometimes only be found abroad. Add up shipping costs, time to delivery, and the fact that you may just need your car back on the road like yesterday, and good used OEM parts becomes quite attractive. Of course, the strong US dollar makes it even more expensive to import parts now! For all these, I was in the market quite recently for a used VTEC oil pressure switch (Part was used for this post: Replacement of Leaking VTEC Oil Pressure Switch). Here are the tips I used to get a really good part that works!

1. Don’t get loose parts: As much as possible, do not buy loose parts. Get the ones still bolted to an engine or part of an engine assembly. I learnt this tip from a user Gazzuzz of nairaland.com. Many used car parts dealers will rework loosened parts and sell them as genuine ones. In fact, while I was at Mgbuka Obosi (largest used car parts market in the south-east of Nigeria) to buy a replacement VTEC oil pressure switch, I learned that some parts dealers would use super-glue (adhesive) on leaky pressure switches and sell them to unsuspecting clients. I was told I won’t be able to tell the difference! After sampling a whole bunch of loose parts I finally got one still bolted to its VTEC spool valve assembly. The dealer charged slightly higher for this.

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VTEC oil pressure switch still bolted to spool valve assembly

VTEC oil pressure switch

Replacement VTEC oil pressure switch (used). It came with the red OEM o-ring

2. Inspect for dents and blemishes: Even when the part meets the 1st criteria above, ensure that it’s free from dents. If it’s a part that’s threaded, ensure the threads aren’t crossed etc. While on this trip I was served a VTEC oil pressure switch with a dent on the 22mm part and another with crossed threads. The dealer made frantic efforts to convince me that it still worked, but for me, rule number 2 had failed so no deal!

3. Test the Part: If possible, ask the dealer to test the part. I once bought a relay for my cooling system and the vendor confirmed it to be in working order using a small light bulb. If you have a multimeter and you’re savvy, you could do this for a range of parts. NB: Not all parts can be tested at point of purchase.

4. Get a guarantee: Always insist on getting this from the dealer especially if it’s one of those parts that can’t be tested at point of purchase. At least, a fair guarantee is that the part would be returned if it’s broken when fitted. Genuine parts dealers would almost always offer this.

Hope this post helps and if it did, do like and share. Or do you have more tips, lets get them via comments. Many thanks!

9 Comments

  • Namzy

    Looking for oem driver side complete cv axle on our honda accord 2004. Been struggling with vibration issues and I narrowed it down to useless aftermarket axles which works for sometime before vibrations will set it. Any way I can get used oem.

    • Hi Namzy, do these vibrations occur with acceleration and subside when cruising?
      Where you would go for a used OEM would depend on where you are based in the country. Also do source it from those that don’t sell poorly rebuilt ones. Haven’t had any axle problems so can’t say I know any high-end aftermarket brand available locally.
      I was surprised to find genuine NTN wheel bearings but they came at a high cost at the time (like 2-3 times other aftermarket) but has done 2years or so.
      Hope this helps

      • Namzy

        Having problems with inner cv joint, when i change it vibration stops only to re occur about a month of driving. Have bought countless inner cv joints (driver’s side) also bought complete axke about 3 times and the problem keeps reoccurring. When changed it’ll stop the vibrations then it’ll occur later, honfa forums complain about this problem when the buy aftermarket esp autozones and problem stopped when they bought oem. Someone even changed his about 5 times before realizing that aftermarket market were crap, since obosi sells second hand axle, one wouldn’t know whether its those useless autozones that they sell as tokumbo. Am hoping I’ll be lucky one day

        • My apologies. I’ve also heard this myself. Some of the Obosi sellers will sell you a used aftermarket in the name of a used OEM. Have had the experience.
          It’s difficult really. You may need to bite the bullet and get a new OEM (Ouch with the current dollar exchange rate) or get someone from Lagos who can supply a good tokunbo one. Hope you use the correct grease for assembly? There’s CV joint grease which is molybdenum disulphide-fortified and helps reduce the wear on the joint. This may not be the cause of your frequent wear but its good to use the specialized grease for better longevity. Hope you find a good part soon!

  • Wendy Cartright

    These are great tips for buying good used car parts. Getting used car parts can save a ton of money if you get ones that are in good condition. There are also places that sell new parts at discounted prices, which is sometimes safer than buying used parts. Thank you for sharing!

  • Tim

    The best tip I took from this Pikye, is to test the parts. So true! Ran into a couple instances where the parts don’t work properly once you get them on your vehicle.

  • Stec

    Piyke, whats your advice for someone who does not live in the ‘east’ but desperately needs some used OEM parts?
    EG:
    1. Shocks (all four)
    2. Engine sittings
    3. Power steering rack with the pinion assembly(very genuine OEM oh!)
    4. Exhaust system (Especially the Catalytic converter)

    Do you have a contact there I can speak with?

    • Piyke

      Hello Stec and thanks for following. The basic principles for buying good used parts for the above listed parts still apply. I believe there should be good used car parts markets at your location or at least close to your base. My advice is to take the old part along as you go in search of the replacement part. Some dealers may want to sell you a part that is not an exact match. If you don’t feel confident identifying a good used part you may also go along with a good mechanic. They can help you identify signs that a reworked part.
      But if I may ask, have you proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the above listed are the culprits?
      I happen to have a contact that I can send across to you by private email who deals on OEM Toyota parts both new and used.

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