Online Auto Parts Or Local Auto Parts Store – Where Should I Buy Car Parts?

You are driving your pride and joy through the parking lot on a Saturday and people are admiring your car as they should; you have just detailed the whole vehicle and it’s looking its best. Then you step on the brakes, a couple of people look at you in disgust and the smaller children are covering their ears and whining to their parents as your low brake pad indication squealers are rubbing on the brake rotors. It’s time for a brake job, and you don’t let anyone touch your car so you are going to do it yourself. You have a couple of options. You could drive to the closest dealership and get OEM pads; this will typically cost you an arm and a leg. You could drive to the local auto parts place and save a bit of money on an aftermarket set of brake pads that will likely work just as well. Another option is buying from an online auto parts store.

The online format of business has several advantages, the first is location. The warehousing for an online car parts store does not need to be located in prime real estate. It does not have to be easily accessible to highly populated areas because it does not require the convenience of location to do the majority of its business. A franchised retail outlet on the other hand does. And that convenience comes at a price which is essentially passed along to the consumer.

There are a variety of online sites that specialize in replacement parts. Although each company is unique on its own there are three main formats that are easily identifiable in the realm of replacement car parts. The most common is the company that tries to stock just about every part available. They carry all sorts of brands, give you a variety of options and can usually still beat the prices of anything locally. The simple fact that the company providing the auto part has to stock another company’s car part is a reason for a price mark-up. And this is the same basic idea for some of the specialized auto part sites. Let’s take Volkswagen for example. There are some car parts sites that are run by VW enthusiasts and they specialize in the parts that are available for Volkswagens, this way they can cater to a targeted audience.

There are certain companies that only sell their own brand of auto parts. This means they do not have a retail markup that includes a markup to cover distribution of the parts from the manufacturer to one company and then to another. This lets the company that only sells its own auto parts offer them for much cheaper and still make enough of a profit level to remain in business. A company like this will specialize in the car parts that have the most crossover applications, i.e. the same part fits several vehicles, and the most commonly replaced auto parts. These are car parts like brake parts, hub bearings, struts, strut assemblies, and other frequently changed maintenance parts. A good example of a company like this is Prime Choice Auto Parts.

How To Get The Best Deal On Auto Parts

Every day we are bombarded by hundreds of ads. The sales are everywhere and on everything. But, the story is different when it comes to auto parts. Unlike food, clothes, and furniture auto parts are rarely on sale. This is simply because not so many customers are interested in doing the job on their own. Most of us will take our vehicle to a professional place.

However, with this being said there is a big benefit doing the job yourself. Price is for one. One can save tremendous amount of money by replacing the parts yourself. For example, on average an auto body repair shop will charge a customer 50 dollars per hour to replace a part, and this does not even include the price of an auto part itself. In fact the price one pays charged by a professional shop is usually double of a price one pays at the store. So where do you look for if you decides to undertake the project? And, better yet how do you know you are getting the best price.

There are different places one can look for auto parts such as local specialty stores, online stores or auto parts auctions, and last but not least junk or salvage yards. Every place has its pros and cons.

Specialty stores will always guarantee delivery, satisfaction, and better yet quality. The down side is the price. There are no such things as sales or discounts or are there? Well, the good news is you can always ask for one – you will be amazed. In many cases the store will grant you a discount based on the purchase price. You can even go further and try to negotiate a better deal but don’t go over board or you can lose it all together. The idea is to act within reasonable parameters. But, don’t rush to buy that part yet. Do some price comparisons by checking the Internet.

Internet has a wealth of information, provides a myriad of helpful resources, and enables to save more money compared to the local auto parts stores. The downside is the time it takes to find these stores, and not mentioning the additional time for the parts to arrive. A good recommendation is to check online auto parts directories such dmoz.org. The organization is highly selective to who gets in. This allows you to save valuable time and find credible sources.

Another option is to purchase auto parts via the bidding process held by auto parts auctions. Auctions are best known for great bargains. For one is the price control. You pay what you think the part is worth. The downside is the time it can take to for the auction to end. There are different types of auctions and many have the “Buy It Now” option to speed up the process.

In addition there are many local junk or salvage yards at your disposal. The great part is that the price is almost always lower, and it is delivered to you the same day. The downside is there are no guarantees on used parts. Although many reputable yards do provide a replacement or refund in case the part doesn’t perform satisfactory, the time replacing it again is lost.

Finding the best price is a matter of one’s personal circumstances, time and budget. With this being said one thing remains the same, and that is price check. It is prudent to check different places to ensure you are getting the best deal, and value.

Tips to Save Money On Auto Parts

Buy OEM parts

It is simply not true that OEM parts are always more expensive than aftermarket parts. Remember that cheap parts are usually cheap for a reason, so if an OEM part is more expensive than an aftermarket part, the higher price serves to remove the reasons why the aftermarket part is cheaper.

These days, there is no telling where any given aftermarket part was made, or even who made it. The global parts market is flooded with cheap, substandard garbage that does not conform to any accepted safety and quality standards, which in practical terms, means that you could be endangering the lives of your family by refusing to pay “exorbitant” prices for safety critical parts at the dealer.

Moreover, if an OEM part fails, you know who to talk to about it, which is often not the case with aftermarket parts. The result of this is that you often have no recourse, and you simply have to buy another part at a different auto parts store, hoping it won’t fail again within a few days. Thus, by occasionally paying more for an OEM part, you can save a lot of money, time, and aggravation in the long run.

Compare prices

If you do choose to go with aftermarket parts, despite the risk of receiving substandard auto parts, you can often realize substantial savings by shopping around. However, when you do shop around, you must compare prices for the same brand.

If you don’t know your way around the parts jungle, it is easy to fall prey to unscrupulous dealers who do not have your best interests at heart. Reputable auto part manufacturers will always brand their products, so stick to brands you know and trust: auto parts that come in unbranded white boxes (or in plain plastic bags) may be cheap, but you just don’t know what you are buying.

“Cheap” never translates into “good quality”, which means that by the time you had replaced an aftermarket auto part of uncertain provenance for the third time, you’ve probably spent more money than you would have done had you bought the part from the dealer in the first place.

Buy used auto parts

We are not suggesting that you should always buy used parts, but where used parts do not pose a safety risk, such as trim panels, mirrors, body parts/panels, and the like, you can often save substantial amounts of money. Moreover, by shopping around and comparing prices at a few junk yards, you can often negotiate a price that will make you come back for more.

Buy refurbished parts

Major auto parts like alternators, drive shafts, and transmissions are always expensive when you buy them new, but refurnished parts can be a viable alternative that can save you substantial amounts of money. However, not all refurbished parts are rebuilt to OEM standards, so if you want to take this route, be sure to investigate the company that does the refurbishing.

Remember that no refurbished auto part ever comes with a warranty that matches the warranty of a new part, but the warranty should offer at least two thirds of what a “new” warranty offers. Nonetheless, a warranty means nothing if it is not backed up by a solid history of superior after sales service, so be sure to check out the supplier’s record with regard to after sales service.

Buy auto parts online

A quick online search will turn up a multitude of online parts retailers that carry huge stock inventories, and often at prices that beat those of walk-in stores. In addition, some online retailers’ will deliver the part to your door, or sometimes at a nearby auto part store, which can save you both time and money.

However, you need to check on a few things before you purchase auto parts online, the most important of which is the retailer’s returns policy. Electrical parts are for the most part not returnable, regardless of where you buy it from, but some online retailers will not accept returns of any auto parts if the packaging had been opened.

This can make online purchases problematic if you cannot supply a sample of the part you need, so be sure to check out the terms and conditions set by each online retailer- not doing this could double the cost of the part if the retailer won’t accept a return, and you have to buy the part from a walk-in store anyway.

Use loyalty programs

Almost all auto part stores and chains offer loyalty programs that could save you the full price of a part if you have enough points or benefits to redeem against the price of that part. However, to get the best from any loyalty program you need to make frequent purchases to collect points, which means that if you only buy auto parts occasionally, a loyalty program is likely not the way to go.

Do preventative maintenance

Nobody actually likes spending money on auto parts, but one sure fire way to save on money on parts is to stick to the specified maintenance schedule of your vehicle. This may sound counter-intuitive, but by replacing worn parts when you should, you save money by not having to buy related auto parts that were damaged because you did not replace worn parts in time.

Fixing secondary damage can run to several times the cost of the part or component that should have been replaced, and these additional costs can add up to ridiculous amounts over the life of a car. So, shop smart, don’t replace parts unnecessarily, stick to the maintenance schedule, and you will be amazed at how much money you are saving on auto parts all of a sudden!