Unless you're doing the repair yourself, Consumer Reports says before you shop for used parts, check whether your mechanic will do the work and what, if any, guarantee the shop will provide.
"Be sure to check on whatever warranty the seller offers. They generally last between one and six months. If there is no warranty, check to see that at least you can return the part," said Consumer Reports' Jon Linkov.
But Consumer Reports says there are certain parts you should never buy used: anything related to safety or the functioning of the car. Those car parts include seat belts, airbags, brake parts, and electronic sensors that monitor system problems.
"Those parts should only be bought new or rebuilt by a reputable supplier," said Linkov.
He says the safest parts to buy used are mirrors, bumpers, alloy wheels, side-window glass and hoods, which can be safely installed.
Once you find the part, ask the supplier if it meets original equipment manufacturer or OEM specifications, that way you know you are getting a part that the dealer or authorized mechanic would use.
When you shop for replacement parts, you'll need the make, model, and year of your car, as well as the VIN number. It's also helpful if you have the number of the part.