Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2008   by Tom Venetis, Editor

Insurance, bodyshops use them. But should you?

Recycled parts are popular with some, but many shop owners still cast a wary eye to their use.

Fas long as the automobile has rolled down the road, there have always been those who have turned to using recycled parts in automotive repair. There is a thriving business of wreckers and recyclers selling everything from body panels to water pumps, all pulled from vehicles that have met untimely ends in accidents or sold to the yards by owners looking to make a few dollars from a near retired vehicle. Do-it-yourselfers are frequent customers as well as bodyshops; and insurance companies have pushed for greater use of recycled parts in repairs to be covered by their policies.

The question remains, however, whether an independent service shop should use recycled parts in the repair of a customer’s vehicle. While not discouraging the use of a quality recycled part, especially if a customer insists on a used part in a repair, there are questions that need to be asked by owners and technicians before going that route.

It’s a nice part, but what about the support?

One of the criticisms often given by service providers for their reluctance in using recycled parts is the lack of support.

John Sofos, one of the owners of the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Universal Auto Techs said he is reluctant to use a recycled part because of a lack of warranties covering used parts.

“We don’t want to take any chances with something going wrong,” he added.

When purchasing a new aftermarket part from a jobbers or an OE part from a dealer, that part will usually come with a one year warranty. So if the part, for some reason, breaks down when installed, the shop owner and technicians are certain the part can be returned. In some cases, the shop owner will have part of the labour cost covered as well for having to pull the part and to install the replacement. Shop owners have told us that with a recycled part, the better suppliers will have some warranty coverage, but it will be less that the standard one year warranty on new parts, sometimes 90 days or six months at most with a recycled part. Some suppliers will offer nothing, so taking the part becomes an exercise in caveat emptor.

Because of that reluctance, there is a move by some of the more established recycled parts suppliers to offer customers extended warranty options. Paul Monaghan, owner of the Toronto- based Jones Auto Wreckers said he offers a 30-day warranty for parts with replacement, or a shop can purchase an extended plan for a part that can last up to the remaining life of the vehicle.

To ease the concerns people have with using a recycled part, Monaghan said he only takes parts for resale that meet certain standards and are tested.

“I’m a licensed mechanic by trade so I set some standards for quality,” he added. “If I was selling a motor or transmission, I would do a compression test and you do a proper compression test, one recognized by the industry. I follow trade practices within the automotive industry and if a part does not pass, that part will not be resold.”

Slamel Farhat, owner of Formula Auto Wreckers in Queensville, Ont. said up to 85 per cent of his business is from professionals and because they demand high-quality in the recycled parts they come to source from him, he will have his technicians test the various parts that will likely be resold while they are on the vehicle that has come to his business. This is to ensure the usable parts work, especially if the car has been in an accident.

“If a technician buys a compressor from us and it fails within a year, not only do we replace it, we will pay the shop for labour,” said David Gold, owner of Standard Auto Wreckers in Toronto. “If we get a motor, we will test that motor. If it does not test well, we will throw that motor out. There is no way we will take a chance on a motor that could fail for someone.”

Gold added the parts Standard Auto Wreckers sells to independents come with guarantees and different levels of guarantees can be purchased, from 30 days to sixty and the lifetime of the vehicle.

What is purchased and who do you go too?

The recyclers contacted all said it is quite common for professional service shops to call them and source parts, often being a substantial part of their business. So what kind of parts are service shops interested in and why would they decide to use a recycled part, instead of a new part?

Steve Perusits, owner of Master Mechanic in Toronto said it is not uncommon for him to use a recycled part, particularly for something like a front-end component or solid part, if the part is one that is hard to source.

“For example, a front-wheel bearing on a front-wheel drive Chevy Venture or something like that, you can get one from the ‘wreckers,’ brand-new, cheaper than what you can get from a jobber,” Perusits added. “We would use a recycled part in an emergency or if it’s a part that is hard-to-source or a rare part, or one that is obsolete.”

Jason Burnside, owner of Varsity Automotive Limited in Vancouver, BC agreed and added that he will turn to a recycler if a part he needs turns out to be one that has been discontinued.

“It seems some of the Fords, like the Taurus or the Tempo, some of those parts are not available anymore,” he said. “In those cases, we do try to track down a used part.”

That is a crucial point. Service providers rarely decide to go with a recycled part because it is cheaper. Often, a new part is only slightly higher in price than a quality recycled part.

Steven Rossi, owner of Toronto Body Parts sells a greater percentage of new parts than recycled now than when he started his business five years ago, because many are now as inexpensive or just slightly higher priced than a recycled parts.

Take, for example, a typical $50 recycled alternator.

“That is a pretty reasonable price for a (recycled) alternator for a 2004 Chevrolet, for example” said Rossi. “But a person who called for the part said he would take it. I asked why and he told me that a brand-new alternator is $65. I called our warehouse, where we get hard parts, and our guy there told me that my cost, for a part that is brand-new, would be $45. So I could conceivably buy a new alternator, sell it for $60 to someone and be able to give them a new pat that comes with a one year warranty.”

So if one decides in the end to source a recycled part what should independents ask look for in a recycler? Not surprisingly, independents said the same qualities that make for a good jobber or warehouse distributor are the same for a parts recycler. A recycler should have parts at hand when one needs them, stand behind their parts and work to correct as quickly as possible any problems that may arise with the use of a recycled part, such as shipping out a replacement if the one sent fails.

“If you do enough business with (a recycler) and you have good relationship with them, they should ship you a replacement with no problems,” said Perusits of Master Mechanic.


How to find the recycled part you need Open up a phonebook and look under recycled parts and you will likely find hundreds of places listed, from large established players to many smaller companies. If you are in the market for a recycled part, looking at that list can be a daunting prospect.

Howard Berg, executive director of Car Management Solutions/QRP Canada said his company’s Quality Replacement Parts (QRP) program should help make the search easier and faster than thumbing one’s way through the Yellow pages and calling individual recyclers.

The program ( is an online resource that connects to ten of Ontario’s largest auto part recyclers, allowing the recyclers to post their available inventory and newly acquired parts which can be searched by independent service providers.

“The difference between QRP and using another search engine is this you are dealing with reputable, long-term and established businesses,” Berg said.

To use the service, one simply sign
s on and creates a user name and password, and filling in other pertinent information, and creating a user account. Once that user account is created, one can begin to search for recycled parts by either using a VIN or identifying a part needed with information about the vehicle. A technician or owner of a shop can even find out about the condition of the part or even see a picture of the part if one is available.

Berg added one feature that will be especially welcome is a real-time parts request system.

“A parts request is send out through QRP at no charge and that request will go out to our recyclers and within 15 minutes you will receive a response on that part and information on the quality and price,” he said.

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