How to Buy Auto Parts Without Getting Cheated: Beginners Guide

buy auto parts

Prices for vehicle repairs were 61% higher in 2017 than they were in 2000. A lot of that has to do with where you get your car repaired and where the parts are sourced. The worst case scenario is bringing your car into the dealership and paying premiums to buy auto parts.

Savvy car owners know that you have to buy the auto parts yourself, then either make the repair yourself or just pay for the cost of labour at a mechanic. The idea is pretty straightforward, but finding auto parts on your own can be an intimidating task for some.

To help you shop for car parts online, we've put together this guide. We will cover ways to shop confidently, save big, and avoid getting ripped off.

Know Your Vehicle History

We don't mean your vehicle specifically, but the model's year itself. Buying a popular car by name could mean that your car's parts are easy to find. That is if you're driving a model that didn't experience defects or change its build drastically from other years of production.

Look into the availability and compatibility of your car's parts. Find out if aftermarket parts are a viable solution or if you should stick to OEM parts only. The general rule of thumb is that if your vehicle isn't a popular vintage model, then it will be tough to source parts that are decades old.

Know the VIN

Knowing which part that is needing repair isn't enough when trying to buy auto parts. Always look up the VIN number to confirm that your replacement will be compatible. You can call a dealership to get the VIN number if you can't find your manual. 

A lot of vehicles use uniquely-fitted and cast parts that only fit with your engine and transmission. If you try to put in a part from a similar model car, you could run into issues with power, emissions, or installation altogether.

Don't Be Too Ambitious with Price

Many people misunderstand the nature of second-hand parts and aftermarket solutions. These parts may be perfect replacements for your car, so don't mistake them as cheap or risky purchases. If you choose to barter or haggle for a lower price, you better have a compelling reason.

Car wreckers are typically run by experienced mechanics, so they will know the true value of the parts offered. Do your research online and find out what that part has sold for in the past, not whatever is listed currently on eBay. Plus, they will be able to smell desperation a mile away if you try to plead for lower prices.

TradeMe, Ebay and Facebook Groups

These marketplace and social network platforms all have huge potential for savings, but you'll need to be very auto-savvy. There will definitely be scammers out there looking to pass off heavily used parts as barely-used. Also, one of the most important things to look out for when buying used car parts is fake parts.

These can be hard to detect without a trained eye. Fake parts can be very dangerous and be made without proper specifications for your car. There's usually no way to get your money back after finding out you were ripped off, either.

Most successful scam artists will either hop around different locations or claim buyer responsibility and refuse any form of refund upfront.

Sales and Coupons 

There's an entire culture of couponing and savings in the automotive world. Some people have built entire businesses out of snatching up auto parts on the cheap. Your average auto parts store may have the highest prices anywhere by default, if not for coupons.

Online deals are especially good sometimes, where you could find brand new parts for the same price as used elsewhere. 

Look on Forums

If you can't find what you need in stores or at the dealership for a reasonable price, try message boards. Car enthusiasts on these boards, especially those dedicated to your model car, may know suppliers. This is essentially crowdsourcing for auto parts--the auto community is a valuable resource.

Use these boards to determine if you have other options available and see if anyone has experience repairing your car. You might even discover a local car expert to help you with everything.

Rare Parts Aren't Cheap

Cars that are either too new, too vintage, or too obscure may have parts that aren't worth searching for online.

This is something you should take into account if you own a classic car, a hybrid vehicle, or a weird foreign car. With this situation, you should already be bracing for expensive repairs when things break.

That isn't to say that you can't find obscure parts on the cheap. Go through the usual channels and see if someone is trying to get rid of old inventory. Call the wreckers and ask them if they have anything. 

The worst case scenario is you'll need to order the part from the manufacturer or a specialty shop that stocks aftermarket parts for uncommon cars.


Shopping for auto parts can be a frustrating process.

Sometimes you need multiple parts at the same time, so you try to buy everything in the same place. We don't recommend this because you could wind up overpaying for non-urgent parts. Instead, prioritize what you need to get your car running, then look for other upgrades later.

If you take your time and look hard for deals on each part, you can save yourself hundreds out of convenience. The only exception here is if you have a hard to find a car that happens to be sitting in a car wrecker with low mileage.

Find Suppliers to Buy Auto Parts

Use these tips to save yourself a headache from finding out that you bought a fake, faulty, or incompatible part.

Where you buy auto parts plays a major role in finding quality parts. Auto Chain provides a powerful online marketplace that connects buyers and auto part suppliers with a simple quote system. Buyers can then compare prices from multiple suppliers with little hassle.

Sign-up today and start finding the parts you need from reputable suppliers in a fully transparent process.

26 Nov 2018