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What to look for when buying replacement car door parts

  Thursday, 27 July 2017

Car door interior upholstery

One of the most commonly replaced car parts is the door (or internal parts of the door).  Because they’re relatively detachable, it can be much easier to replace a damaged door than something like an engine.  However, there are still certain things that you need to bear in mind when shopping for a second-hand car door.  Here are some of the major considerations:

Warranty or Insurance Coverage

Before you go hunting for the perfect replacement door, it’s advisable to check whether your car is still in warranty or if the damage done is covered by any insurance arrangements.  With detailed photos and a comprehensive list of damages, there is a chance your insurance company will be prepared to cover your liability.

Likewise, if your car remains under warranty, then bringing the car to the relevant dealership for a fix may be a good idea.  Remember that manually installing a replacement car door, without oversight from the dealership, can void warranty coverage (you should check if this is the case before proceeding).

It’s important, therefore, to consider the costs against the benefits.  If your insurance won’t cover the damage to the door, and if the expense of fixing it outweighs the advantage of keeping your warranty valid, this is a good time to search for a more affordable replacement option.

Is an OEM door essential?

OEM (in all car part purchases) stands for original equipment manufacturer.  It simply means that the door was manufactured by exactly the same company that built your car.  If you’re buying a Ford Escort, for instance, the door will have been manufactured by Ford and will be completely compatible with your car.

An OEM door makes the ideal replacement part.  This is primarily because alternative models may not fit into the gap and, even if they do, their electronic parts may not function when the door is placed.  Since some models of car are no longer in production, and their parts are no longer produced, it’s generally a good idea to consult a mechanic or vehicle repairs specialist for their opinion.  This is especially true if your insurance company is paying for the replacement.

To purchase the correct part, buyers will need to know the make and model of the vehicle.  This information can typically be found as a number – comprised of a few numerals and sometimes letters – either on the inside of the car door or under the dashboard, if you can’t find the relevant paperwork.

As a rule, OEM parts are recommended for cars which are fewer than three to four years old.  The alternative is buying an aftermarket door.

Aftermarket doors

Aftermarket doors are made by a company other than the original car manufacturer.  However, aftermarket companies buy the rights to produce these parts and they are often made to fit and perform at least as well as the original.  Furthermore, they are available both used and new.

Whilst they will usually fit the car, a downside is that they may not include certain features that were on the original doors, such as opening mechanisms or automatic windows.  On the other hand, if your car is older than three to four years old, some aftermarket parts may outperform the original model.

Due to their comparative low price, aftermarket doors are great if you’re on a restricted budget.

Are there any electronic parts within the door?

Whilst the majority of early car doors were simply metal panels, more modern models will often be linked to cars electronically for features such as proximity alarms or automatic locking.  If you’re planning to purchase a whole new door, ensure that it’s compatible with any features that your car has.  If not carefully selected and installed, the electric components can fail to function or – even worse – cause the car’s system to short circuit.

Car owners who are attempting the replacement themselves should remember electrical safety.  Follow the right safety codes, use appropriate materials and ensure wires are connected securely.  Making sure the car is switched off and the battery is disconnected can also help to prevent a nasty electric shock.

If you’re a bit unsure about replacing the part, then consult an expert who’ll be able to help.

Colour and condition

Both the colour and the condition of the replacement door will largely rely on your budget.  Ideally, of course, you’ll want a door that matches your current car in terms of both condition and colour.

Condition and model of the door are more important, as there’s always the option of repainting.  However, it’s worth noting that – in order to get colours to match – the whole car may require a new coat of paint.  This is due to the fact the paint may not look quite right, depending on the age and condition of the car and its existing paint job.

Your budget will dictate whether it’s simpler to purchase a new or used door that (roughly) matches the existing paint job, or to opt instead for a new door and have the car repainted to match.


Another thing to remember is that if you’re buying a used car door, the upholstery might not be exactly the same as that found on the original car.  This won’t bother everyone, of course, but it’s worth remembering as upholstery can be much harder to replace than you think!  If you can’t pick up a perfect match, at least try and pick up one that doesn’t clash.

Non-standard car doors

As a general rule, car doors are typically created and fitted to the vehicle in the same way.  However, there are some exceptions:

  • Butterfly doors.  These doors are hinged to the car’s frame at the top, and then open upwards.
  • Canopy doors.  Canopy doors are hinged to the car at both the roof and the sides: the entire door lifts vertically.
  • Coach doors.  Coach doors (otherwise known as suicide doors) are hinged at the back.
  • Gullwing doors.  Hinged at the top (like butterfly doors) gullwing doors open straight up rather than outwards.
  • Scissor doors.  Like butterfly doors, these are hinged to the car’s frame at the top, but they open through upward rotation rather than lifting.
  • Sliding doors.  These doors have a track along which they slide in order to open and shut; they’re particularly common in vans and large taxis.

ASM Auto Recycling

If you’re struggling to find a suitable replacement car door then why not try us?  At ASM Auto Recycling, we stock a wide range of high quality car parts, with over 250,000 vehicle parts stored on-site.  Click here to be taken straight to our online shop.

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