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Do you plan on buying your car’s part online? If so, there are a few things you need to know about the process. They range from the types of parts in the market and how to know if an online store is worth your time. There are hundreds of online auto parts retailers in the market today. Finding out where to buy auto parts online from a place that meets your needs is not an easy task.
You will need to make sure you know the ins and outs of online shopping as well as auto parts. This way, you will minimize your chances of getting the wrong part. The following is an ultimate guide on everything you need to know about online auto parts shopping. Let’s start by understanding the types of auto parts.
Table of Contents
Types of Car Parts
There are 6 main types of car parts:
If you don’t know what each type of part means, the following information gives you an explanation of each.
These are parts made by other companies that were not responsible for making the original parts. Such companies buy the rights to produce auto parts for other car brands. They may look a bit different from the original parts. However, they still perform and fit like the original parts.
OEM is an acronym for Original Equipment Manufacturer. In other words, these are parts built by the company that built the car or was responsible for building genuine parts of a car.
Additionally, they have the vehicle manufacturer’s stamp of approval. The majority of car enthusiasts argue that such parts are the best as they are more affordable than genuine parts.
Genuine car parts are the components that were originally installed in your vehicle when it was brand new. Of all parts, these are the most expensive. This makes some people feel like they are the most superior types of parts, which is not always true.
One thing people don’t know is that genuine parts are made by a different company. This is despite the fact they are labeled as a product from the vehicle’s manufacturer. Usually, this is seen as a logo on the package that comes with the parts.
Sometimes labeled as recycled, they are often a cheaper alternative compared to the three listed above. They should be considered when you are replacing vehicle parts that rarely break down.
Components to consider include moldings, door handles, and door trims. With this in mind, they should not be considered for every part of your car. When looking for parts related to performance or safety, avoid used parts.
These are different from rebuilt parts because of how they are treated before you can use them. Typically, these are used parts that are slightly modified and cleaned instead of being dismantled. Such minor changes may include things like gaskets, bolts, and nuts. The downside is that refurbished parts are likely to have some degree of wear and tear.
A rebuilt part, at its core, is one that was completely dismantled and refitted with new components. Once done, the part is tested to ensure it works as good as a new one. They usually perform as well as new parts and sometimes may last just as long.
How to Narrow Down Your Options
The six types of parts you have seen above make choosing the best auto part for your car a challenge. All the same, it is good to know these options. You can narrow them down by using some deciding factors.
Type of Part You Want to be Replaced
Before you choose a specific part, you need to know what you are replacing. For big fixes, the rule of thumb is relying on the sturdiest parts.
Engine and transmission parts are big fixes. For these kinds of replacements, consider OEM, genuine, or aftermarket parts.
For small replacements such as door handles, rebuilt or refurbished items will work just fine. Used parts may be a good option as long as you understand they are not meant for certain tasks. Used components should be avoided for parts affecting efficiency, safety, and/or performance due to the wear and tear they already have.
Age of the Car
The age of the car will determine the type of parts that you can buy for your vehicle. Dealerships and mechanics will recommend certain components for this very reason.
For a brand new car, go for a genuine part since the car is still under warranty. Cars that are three to four years old benefit greatly from aftermarket or OEM parts. You can use refurbished or rebuilt parts if your car has passed its warranty age.
Price and Value
The biggest factor that determines the type of part you pick is probably your budget. Avoid sacrificing value to save a few bucks.
Undoubtedly, you want to get a reliable replacement for a reasonable price. Genuine parts are usually reliable, but you may end up paying more than you need to. Some aftermarket and OEM parts are more affordable and offer the same value.
Refurbished, rebuilt, and used parts may be cheaper. They may be worth considering especially when the part to be replaced isn’t a major part. Take note aftermarket and OEM parts are almost at par with genuine parts when it comes to reliability. Sometimes they are even better without the higher costs associated with genuine parts.
Identifying the Part you Need
Knowing the type of part you need to buy is the first step. Identifying the correct part for your car’s make and model is another crucial step. There are different versions of the same part for a specific car. You can use the following simple steps to ensure you get the perfect part for your vehicle.
Sometimes you may come across a code for the particular auto part you want to replace. It may be obscured or hidden underneath the grease, debris, or dirt that accumulates around the part. The code is helpful as it helps you, your mechanic, or parts dealer to know the exact part you need.
VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
This is a number that relates to your specific car. It is also used to check if you are buying the right part.
If you have a local mechanic, you can take the part there to see if they can recognize the part. Such a mechanic may also know the best place to get your part.
Another option is taking a photo of the old part and sending it to an online car parts store. They can be able to compare it to the parts they have in stock. Make sure you clean the part if it is dirty or greasy. A picture of a clean auto part will make it easier for the online store to know the part you are looking for.
Getting the Best Price
One of the main reasons you would look for second-hand parts is the reduction of costs. The problem is getting value for your money. There are some techniques you can use to ensure you get the best price for the auto part.
The majority of companies that sell auto parts online often offer coupons as a means of drumming up business. Keep an eye out on sites that offer coupons for shopping on their site. You can also search for discount codes on the internet. These help you cut a significant percentage of your purchase.
Feel free to haggle for a better price. If you don’t state your price, how sure are you the seller will not agree to it? One of the keys to haggling is ensuring you are not too enthusiastic and take your time. There is an old trick people use in any price negotiations.
Walking away from a purchase is a proven method of pushing the seller to drop their price to meet your price point. Always start with a price that is lower than what you would think is fair. This way, you have plenty of room to move.
Never plump for the first price that lands on your lap when you are making a purchase. There is no guarantee that you are paying over the odds or you have managed to get the deal of the century. Try checking out the price of several vendors.
The move will help you ascertain the most average and cost-effective cost of your part. A neat trick is checking recent sales on sites such as eBay. You will get an idea of the going rate for the said part.
As with everything you buy, expect to have a kind of recourse of action to follow in case your recent purchase fails. Most online auto part sellers should offer at least a 30-day money-back guarantee on any spare part they sell.
With more expensive replacement parts you need to shop around for the best assurance. There are some mechanical shops and dealers that offer extended warranties that are six months or more. Usually, garages and stores that are reputable have a higher chance of giving the best guarantees on your part.
Some sellers may refuse to offer you any kind of warranty on a part. It is wise to move on to the next seller. Any auto part seller who does not offer a warranty or guarantee of any kind should be avoided. Think about it this way, if they are not willing to offer any kind of guarantee, it means they are not sure the part will work.
Purchasing a second-hand part on your vehicle’s warranty is something most people don’t consider. Some arrangements can be made and they differ depending on your car’s manufacturer.
In most cases, buying second-hand spares will invalidate your car’s warranty. Make sure you confirm with the vehicle’s manufacturer before you make such a purchase.
10 Best Online Auto Parts Stores
Now that you know the type of parts available and how to make the right choice, it is time to look for an online auto shop for your part. There are hundreds of online auto part stores. Finding one may be a challenge. We went through the customer reviews and testimonials to come up with a list of ten of the best online stores for car parts. They are:
1. Advance Auto Parts
The names are few when it comes to shopping online for quality auto parts, and Advance Auto Parts is one of them. It offers car parts online and it has more than 5,000 brick and mortar stores. Advance Auto Parts also has one of the best platforms for shopping quality car parts online.
You can get almost any car part, accessory, or essential from their site. This includes basic car maintenance parts like brakes, suspensions, and batteries. Essentials such as fluids and cleaning products are also available. Your purchases are delivered to your doorstep.
Their online services include:
- In-store pickup
- No cost oil replacement
- Free battery installation
- Spend more than $25 to get free shipping
2. Amazon Automotive
One of the biggest eCommerce websites in the world is Amazon. It offers a massive selection of auto parts of multiple makes and models. Your location in the world will not matter when you shop at Amazon Automotive. All purchases are delivered to the address provided within a few hours or days.
Amazon Automotive’s tire service is exceptionally great. When you buy tires online, you can get them delivered and installed by professionals at your address of choice. You don’t need to drive to tow your car unsafely with the damaged tires to their workshop.
Get your car fixed with the following easy steps:
- Order your preferred service or part
- Your purchases are delivered to the location of your choice
- Get your parts installed or car fixed by professionals
Walmart is a great online store due to several reasons. For starters, it has thousands of stores all over the world. The store offers everything shoppable from blankets to needles and from ready to eat food items to raw foods like corn.
The success behind Walmart is the ability to make it possible for its clients to access a wider range of commodities and products at competitive prices.
When it comes to auto parts, the store is one of the best places to shop. It will not matter the type of part or accessory you are looking for.
You can get air filters, wiper blades, motor oil, and anything else car-related from Walmart at a comparatively cheaper price. Online shopping is done by going to www.walmart.com and navigating to their auto parts section.
4. Pep Boys
The majority of online car part stores claim they have an A to Z solution for vehicle parts despite their inability to do the same.
Such stores are only good at simple tasks such as replacing tail lights, windshield wipers, oil, or batteries. The good thing about Pep Boys is they offer these services and they include full-body repair services.
You can either schedule a meeting with their professional vehicle experts or go with their in-store pickup service. Either way, you can buy a car part and even request it to be installed. They deliver high-quality car parts and tires of multiple brands such as Dunlop, Goodyear, and Michelin.
5. Tire Buyer
If you are looking to replace your tires, then Tire Buyer will help you get top quality car tires. Most people overlook their car tires because their car is running fine.
When the season changes, it is always wise to check your tires. This way, you can switch between winter or summer tires depending on your needs.
Tire Buyer boasts a stock of more than 4 million quality tires. With such a large number of tires, it is not a challenge to find the tire you need. One of the advantages is that you get your tires shipped to the location of your choice. You can also get the tires shipped to a workshop of your choice where you can get them installed by professionals.
6. eBay Motors
eBay has come a long way from a bidding/auction platform to one of the largest eCommerce websites in the world. You can shop anything on eBay whether it is toy cars or car parts. The eCommerce conglomerate owns an enormous collection of car parts from various brands and manufacturers. You can access them online through their website.
7. Rock Auto
Rock Auto is among the oldest car parts sellers. Their online store was founded in 1999. Undoubtedly, the fact that it is still in business means it is a great destination to shop high-quality auto parts. The huge customer base and positive reviews are a testimony of the quality of their service.
Apart from being reliable, Rock Auto is expansive. What you may not know is it offers rebuilt and OEM parts making it stand out from the majority of reputable online car parts stores.
Their platform is fully dedicated to car parts making it possible for you to do simple, beneficial, and stress-free shopping.
8. Car Parts
Do you have an antique car that requires some parts? If so, you know how difficult it is to find parts online or offline. Car Parts helps you find parts for antique cars from reliable owners and junkyards.
It has an amazing website that deals with new, used, and antique car parts. Whether you are looking for auto parts for your 2018 model Mercedes or classic muscle car, you will find them here. Another great thing about them is they help people sell their used car parts.
9. Pelican Parts
Pelican Parts is unique in that it offers car parts for specific car dealers such as Volvo, Mini, Saab, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, and BMW. You can easily look for car parts because this online store offers make and model-specific products.
One of the benefits of shopping here is a well-organized website. The site is regularly upgraded to ensure it is always in touch with current trends. Pelican Parts also has information on cars through their guides, articles, and blogs. You can use them to learn more about your car or how to install a specific part.
Some of the site’s features include:
- Great availability of products
- Easy user interface
- Offers brand-specific parts
- Provides informative how-to-install resources and guides
10. Auto Parts
Auto Parts provides a platform for you to get car parts and accessories for both domestic and foreign car brands. You can buy nearly anything here whether you are looking for bodywork or under the hood parts. The best thing is you get free shipping as long as you spend more than $50.
Features of a Good Online Auto Parts Store
The above ten online stores are great for finding an auto part online. There are some features of a good online store you should look for when looking for an auto parts seller.
Knowing these features will help you know if a store is worth your time or not. The following are six features you should look for in an online auto part store.
Lookup by Year/Make/Model
When you are looking for a part for your car, you want to find it easily. You do not want to go through thousands of different parts as you search for a particular part.
An option to lookup by year, make, and model will help you narrow down your search. A website with this option will allow you to view parts that are only related to the year, make, and model of your car.
If you come across a store without this feature, it is best to move on. You will end up spending a lot of time before you find your part. In some cases, you may not find the part you are looking for. This means you will have wasted your time on the site.
Let’s say you are looking for an oil filter for a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. It is easy and fast when you enter the year (1969), make (Chevrolet), and model (Camaro).
Usually, you can know if the store has the part you want in less than a minute. If the part is not available, you can move on to the next store. A site without a lookup feature should be avoided as it will waste your time as you search for your car part.
This is a feature where you are allowed to select your car and save details about the same. Different websites have different names for them. Some may call it “Your Car” or “Vehicle”. It is a feature that is used to save data about your car. As you navigate through the website, it will always bring you results about the car you specified.
One of the advantages of this feature is it allows you to get information about your car even if you leave the website. For example, you may have started searching and something came up.
Most online car part stores will not keep your information if you leave the website. A site with “Garage” will allow you to continue without having to input your vehicle’s details again.
Filters are another convenient way for you to navigate any online vehicle parts store. Must-have practices to look out for include:
- Filters arranged in order of the most relevant and convenient’
- Clearly shown applied filters
- Category-specific filters
Intuitive navigation around a website also works towards making your shopping experience better. For starters, the category structure needs to have the right number of categories for you to select.
Too many category options mean the arrangement is vague. On the other hand, the number shouldn’t be too small.
Ideally, there should be the option of starting by selecting your vehicle followed by the product category. The option allows you to choose the product category, its subcategory, and then the car. Both these styles of navigating an auto parts store tell you the owners are well organized.
The store should be mobile friendly. It shows the owners are committed to ensuring clients have the best browsing experience possible. Such a site will allow you to look for car parts on the go without the need of using a computer.
You would not like to shop online and not get a glimpse of the car part you plan on buying. Great product images will always help you have an idea of what to expect from the online store. The images will also help you know whether or not you are purchasing the right part.
Make sure you shop on sites with at least several of these features. Not only will they make your shopping experience easier, but it will also help you make the right choice.
Question: Is there anything I need to know before I shop for used auto parts?
Answer: It is in your best interest to gather information about the part’s return policy, price, and warranty before you purchase it. When you have information on these three categories, you can make an informed buying decision. Additionally, buying from a reputable retailer generally means you are in safe hands.
Question: Is there a difference between rebuilt, refurbished, and re-manufactured auto parts?
Answer: In the automotive industry, the terms refurbished and re-manufactured are used synonymously with each other. On the other hand, rebuilt parts are non-crucial parts or components removed from other vehicles with the intent of repairing and rebuilding a defective part in your vehicle. Examples of rebuilt car parts include rods, piston rings, bearings, bolts, and nuts.
Question: Why are Rock Auto parts so affordable?
Answer: It is because of volume sales. Since other online retailers also buy from them in volumes, they can lower their parts’ prices below the current market rates. Additionally, they have offers to help you save more money. Lastly, they have the option of purchasing grade parts if you are interested.
Question: Is Craigslist a reliable online car parts reseller?
Answer: For starters, Craigslist is not an auto part retailer. It is an online platform where third-party vendors sell automotive parts. As such, the quality of parts from these vendors cannot be guaranteed. Make sure you compare, research, and verify if you plan on buying from this source.
Buying auto parts online is easy as long as you know how to go about it. Make sure you start by finding out information about the specific part you want to replace. Once you know the name of the part and how it looks like, you can start looking for a reputable retailer.
Never go for the first online retailer you come across that sells auto parts. Instead, it is wise to look at three or more online stores before you make a decision.
This way, you can have an idea of what to expect in terms of the availability of the part, the types available (used, new, OEM, etc.), and cost. With the above information, you should be able to successfully purchase auto parts online without a problem.