Would you repair your car with second-hand parts? We reveal all

second-hand car parts
Engines can be remanufactured using a mix of existing and new parts (Picture iStock/Vladru)

Would you use recycled or second-hand parts on your car? Online auction platform eBay thinks more of us ought to in order to save the planet. And used parts will be cheaper and save us money too. But what are the risks? We investigate.

What are these second-hand parts?

When most people think of recycled parts, they imagine components that have been taken from wrecked cars in scrap yards. What eBay is talking about is parts that have been remanufactured.

A remanufactured part will have failed or come to the end of its natural life. But rather than throwing them away, garages ship them to experts who strip them down, replace broken or worn components with new, then rebuild them using new bolts and fasteners.

This is a common practice in countries such as France and Germany. Parts are checked thoroughly when they’ve been rebuilt and are sold with a guarantee.

Parts that can undergo this process include engines, gearboxes, clutches, brake callipers and radiators.

The case for recycled parts

This is a simple one: it’s much kinder to the environment. Ebay believes that if British car owners used just 10 per cent more recycled car parts, it would prevent 390,000 vehicle parts going to landfill each year. In turn, that would save 190,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that are created making brand-new parts.

Buying used components would help cash-strapped owners by saving, on average, around 60 per cent/per part.

Ebay’s calls follow EU legislation passed earlier this year requiring a more ‘circular economy’. This is a move away from our current economic model, called ‘take, make, dispose’ by some. It requires manufacturers to make spares accessible to professional repairers who can fix rather than chuck away car parts.

Currently, regulations require the car industry to recycle, rescue or recover 95 per cent of every car at the end of its life.

Is there any reason it can’t be done?

There is no reason why some second-hand car parts shouldn’t be recycled. An expert can strip back, renew and give a new lease of life to an alternator (the component that charges the car’s onboard battery). Engines too can be stripped down to their base components, rebuilt using new or remanufactured parts and offer a perfectly viable alternative for older cars.

second-hand car parts
There’s no reason why alternators can’t be reused (Picture iStock/Yamac-Beyter)

What about safety?

There are strict regulations about rebuilding second-hand parts. This enables us to buy something that’s safe and value for money rather than a component taken out of a scrap yard. And while there are plenty of components that can be remanufactured and recycled, there are also plenty that can’t.

Mike Hawes, chief executive at trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders warned: “While responsible reuse and remanufacturing of vehicle parts is important, safety is the ultimate priority and not all components, for example seatbelts and airbags, are suitable for reuse.”

And we have already explored the potential dangers of used car tyres on the Green Flag Blog.

Some car companies remanufacture parts

If you own a car made by French brands Peugeot, Citroen or DS, or you have a Fiat, Chrysler or Jeep, chances are you can already buy remanufactured parts. Both companies have official remanufacturing programmes for parts such as clutches, particulate filters, radiators, turbos and brake callipers. They sell these components for around 40 per cent less than new parts and they come with an official 12-month guarantee.

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