Let me start by saying that I'm sure that there are lots of issues around used auto parts. I don't claim to know much of anything about them. However, the other day, the window in my car made a funny noise as it went down, and then it wouldn't go back up. I took it to my favorite shop and unfortunately discovered that my favorite mechanic was GONE! Ack. However, I left the car there anyway and figured that I'd use this as an opportunity to discover if I liked these new people.
The verdict? A blown motor, to the tune of like $450 with labor. Given that I'm only nursing this car along until we PCS in June, that makes me very cranky. On a whim, I called a (relatively) nearby auto part recycling/junkyard place to see how much that part would cost if I purchased it used. $125. And they could install it for $75. Hmmm, a $250 savings. It would take me an hour to get there, plus I'd have to sit and wait, plus an hour back, but I thought that was worth it.
I called the shop and told them that I was going to come pick up the car. I said that I could get the part at Brandywine and then just get it installed there. The shop staff countered that I could have the part mailed, then they would install it. They even offered to discount my labor. Sounded good to me. I was ordering the part when the shop called back again, and said that they'd magically found a new part at about the same price as the used part I was ordering. Outstanding!
Granted, their labor is a little more expensive than the junkyard's labor, but it is saving me at least three hours of driving (with the window stuck down) and sitting. I will be saving at least $150 off the originally quoted price.
If you need a non-essential part on a car, it seems that used parts would be worth the look, especially if the car is older and you don't anticipate having it for a very long time. Just looking for the used part could pay off by making your auto repair shop get creative.