Second Hand Vehicle Parts - what you need to know


What you need to know

The sale of second hand vehicle parts, often now called ‘green parts’ because of their environmental benefit, is as old as the motor car itself. The reuse of parts from ‘end of life vehicles’ is probably the single greatest success story in the reuse/ recycling of any consumer product.  Buying a ‘green’ part not only saves energy in the manufacture of brand new replacement parts, but also extends the life of the motor vehicle itself.  Already more than 80% of every vehicle is recycled in some form or other.  Yet despite this fantastic achievement, accomplished without any external financial support, and against which there can be no serious argument of its environmental benefits, the vehicle recycling industry receives virtually no public recognition or credit.  But more than this, the expertise of the vehicle recycling industry helps keep many millions of motorist on the road by providing a cost-effective alternative to new parts.  Without this valuable service, millions of people would be denied the mobility they need.

Advantages of using ‘green’ parts include:

  • Typically cost less than ½ price of equivalent new parts
  • Saves enormous amounts of energy in the manufacture & transport round the world of new replacement parts
  • Creates employment in the UK
  • Supports social mobility

Over the years there has been some bad publicity about green parts but most of this originates from either new part manufacturers (who want customers to be buying expensive new parts and have no concerns about promoting misinformation) or horror stories from consumer organisation (focusing on ‘cowboy operators’).  Sadly, this tends to lead to all vehicle recyclers being ‘tarred with the same brush’. Consumers do need to understand that although there is legislation governing which business can dismantle and scrap motor vehicles, it is very poorly enforced & there are many illegal and unethical businesses out there that are only too happy to cut corners.  So we strongly recommend that you only buy ‘green’ parts from MVDA members, who are all reputable businesses.  Otherwise there is no way of knowing whether the parts you purchase are stolen, have been checked for correct operation beforehand, or will be covered by a guarantee if something goes wrong.

The MVDA represents the professional vehicle recyclers, who conform to the legislation, and to the MVDA Code of Practice. Most MVDA members are long-established family businesses (some have been operating for over 90 years) & trade on their reputation for integrity & customer service. You can find your local MVDA member using the ‘Locate a Member’ feature.  All MVDA members offer ‘guarantees’ (ranging from 1 - 12 months) & many also offer mail order services with next-day delivery. Look for the MVDA logo as a sign of a quality green parts retailer

Here are a few things to be aware of when purchasing green parts:

  • Always get a receipt
  • Make sure the receipt shows the details of the business (otherwise you could be supporting vehicle crime or terrorism or money laundering)
  • Make sure that the seller is licensed by the Environment Agency

You can check whether an operator is illegal or not by using the ‘check on an illegal operator’ link to the Environment Agency website

Part Ford Focus 2006 Ford Focus 2006 £ Saving % Saving Vauxhall Corsa 2003 Vauxhall Corsa 2003 £ Saving % Saving
New Recycled New Recycled
STARTER 192 25 167 87% 94 20 74 79%
ALTERNATOR 108 25 83 77% 179 20 159 89%
HEADLAMP 108 25 33 57% 66 20 46 70%
BONNET 183 50 133 73% 152 35 117 77%
MIRROR (ELEC) 106 20 86 81% 127 15 112 88%
REAR LAMP 70 15 55 79% 40 10 30 75%