It’s a common question whether you’re talking about a 10 year old family car or a 60 year old vintage car. Do you repair/restore broken car parts or do you replace with new?
When it comes to newer cars, generally speaking parts are easier to come by. Especially if you have a relatively common car like a Toyota. So, in this case your decision generally becomes a monetary one. Therefore, you’d be asking yourself, is repairing a car part going to be cheaper than replacing with a new part?
Before we delve into those questions though, let’s clear up some misconceptions with terminology for the newer project managers amongst us.
There is a common confusion in the way car parts are described. Obviously, when we say a part is new or used, it is pretty obvious the condition it is in. But what about when you’re told a car part is rebuilt or re-manufactured? Is there a difference?
You bet there is.
Rebuilt – A car part that has been rebuilt has been disassembled, had all parts inspected with the worn parts replaced same for same to create an “as new” version of the same part. The technology and build of the part is at it originally was.
Re-manufactured – A re-manufactured part on the other had has been re-engineered and in most cases will resemble the newer version of the same part. Whilst worn parts are replaced, the manufacturer will also look for faults as a pattern failure and re-engineer to fix the short comings. In short, if a car part has been re-manufactured, it is most likely closer to the current design than its original design. So, whilst you are not getting a new part with all new mechanisms, you are receiving a part that has undergone pattern fault finding to replace all mechanisms with a known fault with new, even if there was no sign of that fault in the part originally.
So, if you are given the choice between a new part or re-manufactured part, you may be better to opt for the re-manufactured part. You will be getting a close match to the current new one whilst making a tidy $$ saving.
Now back to our original question: Is repairing or restoring a car part going to be cheaper than replacing with a new part?
In short, it will depend on the part being replaced. Some parts are more expensive than others and some, whilst the part to repair may be on the cheaper side, the labour pushes it over the edge. For example, a transmission in Australia can cost anywhere from $1000 – $2000 to repair whereas a full new transmission will set you back closer to $4000. But, anyone who’s reconditioned a transmission before will know they are a bugger of a job. So, labour costs can push your repair closer to the cost of a fully installed new transmission.
The other thing to factor in, which we touched on before, is the availability of the car part. If you’re talking about a generic car like a Mazda or Toyota that are here in numbers, then parts can be cheaper as they are more easily available. Refurbished parts are also an option as the market for them is high. If you’re looking at a rare car like a Mustang, then you might be limited on how you go about fixing the broken part.
Restore or replace?
Again, this all depends on the car, the part in question and whether you are looking to keep costs down. Newer cars can do quite well with a re-manufactured or rebuilt part in lieu of a new part. Costs will be kept to a minimum and you will have an up and running vehicle for the next few years.
Older cars like your vintage Mustang on the other hand have other questions that come into play. Do you want to keep the original look and feel of the car in all its glory or are you happy to replace old for new? Again, depending on the model of your vintage car, you may be limited in your options. There may only be refurbed parts available as new parts just aren’t being manufactured anymore. You may also have the decision to go full upgrade and use it as an opportunity to modernise your car. For example replacing your original speedo with a fancy newer model or going the sports seats in lieu of the classic buckets.
When it comes to cars, there is no hard and fast rule that fits all comers. It really depends on your end goal. Is your car being used to shuttle you from A to B or are you looking to keep a car in all her glory for years to come?