Most of us are going to be involved in some kind of a fender-bender at some point in our lives. Or sometimes we'll hang on to a vehicle long enough to wind up needing to replace a mechanical part. When repair shops work on your car, you might assume that they'll only use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. You may be under the impression that this is the best option for your vehicle. However, in many cases, this is simply the most expensive option. There are many different types of parts, like aftermarket and recycled parts, with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Types of Alternative Parts

You can put several different types of alternative automotive parts on your car if you get into an accident. OEM parts are made by the manufacturer, and in general this is going to be the highest cost option. Aftermarket parts are also new parts that have never been on another vehicle before. The difference is that a company other than the original manufacturer makes them. Typically, these are the next highest in cost. Both of these types of parts are sold bare, meaning that it will come only as the unpainted part itself.

Recycled parts are a little bit different. In many cases, they are the lowest cost option of all the part types. When insurance companies are referring to recycled parts, they'll call them "like kind and quality", or the acronym LKQ. These parts get a certain grade depending on their quality.  Insurance companies will only purchase parts that with a rating of "A". An "A" quality part signifies either no damage or an area of damage smaller than a credit card.

However, "B" or "C" quality parts often come at an even greater cost savings. You may want of these if you're repairing your car yourself. If you don't carry collision insurance on your car, these are handy if you want the least expensive repair possible. You can even purchase mechanical parts like radiators or air conditioners from an auto recycler. For less money, they can help keep your car running longer.

Advantages to Recycled Parts

You may feel some hesitancy to use a part on your car that was already in use on another vehicle. If so, it would help to remember that the parts are graded by quality. If you were to remove parts from your car now, they would already be "used." Also, keep in mind that these parts were all created by the original manufacturer. Generally, this means that there won't be any issues with fit or function. So, you're getting a part built by the original manufacturer at a fraction of the cost. Plus, in many cases they come with extras that other part types do not.

Recycled parts cost a fraction

When you're purchasing an OEM door, the bare door shell is all you are going to get. You will have to transfer in the old wiring harnesses, door glass, trim panels, and any other trim. Often, recycled doors will not be detrimmed, and you will get these additional pieces along with your used part. Simply call the vendor you're purchasing the part from and find out what else is going to be included. Obviously, this can save you even more over other types of parts.

Environmentally Friendly

Vehicle recycling is a truly environmentally friendly process. Auto recyclers make sure that  frequently high quality parts don't go to waste. The vehicles themselves may have reached the end of their lives in a mechanical sense. But this does not mean that the sheet metal components are not completely useful. Even cars declared total losses due to an accident often have plenty of parts that were never damaged. Choosing these parts provides you with opportunities for savings. It'll surprise you to see how great these parts can look once they've been painted to match your vehicle.

Part recycling can also help keep your older car on the road for longer. Original manufacturers don't make parts forever, so in some cases recycled parts may be the only option. Generally, once a car has gotten old enough that the manufacturer has stopped making parts for it, aftermarket companies have moved on to newer cars as well. In many cases, recycled parts can help you save money and potentially even avoid having to replace your car.

So, when talking to the collision shop or the mechanic, ask what types of parts are available for your car. Remember, it's often just a call to a recycler to find which parts they have that would work for you. Don't let a repair shop convince you to pay more than you need in order to get the same part. Recycled parts are a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way to get your car back on the road without spending a fortune.

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