Whether doing it yourself or having your mechanic take care of it, when your car needs repairs, you must decide between buying a new replacement part or a part that’s been remanufactured.

Before making this decision, there are a few things you should know.

Many of us are aware about reman parts such as alternators , distributors, window lift motors, wiper motors, fuel pumps, water pumps, cylinder heads, A/C compressors, starter motors, etc.

But there’s a whole slew of other parts that are able to be remanufactured including ignition coils, heater cores, radiators, CV axle assemblies, brake calipers, brake master cylinders, ABS electronic controllers, suspension and transmission components and a long list of others. For all these products, choosing “reman” is a good option. For a more detailed list of remanufactured auto parts, check out Mopar’s 2009-2010 Remanufactured Parts Catalog.

What about body parts? Let’s say your car goes to the body shop after being sideswiped by the old lady who couldn’t see over her steering wheel and you need a new passenger side door. Your body mechanic will often acquire a used door from a junkyard. He will then repair any bumps, dings or scratches, and paint the door to exactly match the color of your car. This saves on money and resources.

Remanufactured engine parts can cost 25-50 percent less than domestically made new replacement parts, and often carry the same warranty or better, according to The APRA (The Automotive Parts Remanufacturer’s Association). This is possible because remanufacturing facilities use up to 50 percent of the original part, and have the opportunity to see where certain parts often fail. This allows them to improve the design in order to make the product even more reliable. For more info check out this video posted by The APRA. (it may be a bit old, but the material is still pretty useful).

There are also new replacement parts that are cheaper and compete with “remaned” parts. These parts come from so-called “low-cost countries” such as China. Many people often opt for these parts due to their low price, but buyer beware – these parts are often poorly made. They are copies of parts and not OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts; this means that they might be made with sub-par materials, and often do not fit as accurately as intended. They are also known to fail a bit more often than parts made by our domestic and more reputable companies that are held to higher standards.

With growing amounts of new replacement parts coming from China, there is also growing sense of concern. Not all parts manufactured in China are unsafe, but it is advised to use caution when buying discounted replacement parts from any “low cost country.” Check out online consumer reviews when making your decision.

That said, there’s a larger issue here. The most important thing to consider (at least to us), is the impact that remanufactured parts will have on our environment compared to new ones.

Not buying a new component means using fewer raw materials such as aluminum, steel and copper. According to the APRA, “Rebuilt engines require 50% of the energy and 67% of the labor that is required to build new engines.” Less energy means reduced emissions. And, buying remanufactured keeps one more used part out of the landfill. Buying domestic “remaned” parts also cuts out the need for shipping, saving a considerable amount of energy. And, don’t forget that it helps our own economy.

Buying remanufactured auto parts can save you money while saving the environment. We like that, and think you should too.

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.