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An Expert’s Guide to Buying Car Parts without Getting Screwed & Top Places / Sites to Find Them

There is a growing market for replacement car parts in America. This is partly because the leading manufacturers have created a wide variety of ultimately reliable vehicles. Even Amazon.com has a huge retail outlet to buy new or used automobile parts.

Another reason is that people want to cool products in their cars with the latest gadgets or technologies.

List of Top Places to Buy Used Car Parts and Save

RankTop Places to Buy Used Auto PartsReview
1RockAuto4.6 / 5
2Best Auto Parts Stores4.5 / 5
3NAPA Online4.5 / 5
4CARiD4.0 / 5
51A Auto4.2 / 5
6GetUsedParts4.0 / 5
7Amazon.com3.8 / 5
8eBay Motors3.9 / 5
9Car-part.com4.0 / 5
10Uneedapart.com4.2 / 5
11Partsmarket.com4.2 / 5
12Pick-n-Pull3.6 / 5

However, it can be difficult to choose between the various branded products. There is also the difficulty of choosing whether to fit the parts yourself or visit the local mechanic. That’s why you should check out the top tips listed in this article. 

What is the Difference Between OEM & Aftermarket Parts?

OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer

Aftermarket Parts ProsAftermarket Parts ConsOEM Parts ProsOEM Parts Cons
Better availability / varietyQuality varies greatlyEasier to choose your partMore expensive
Less expensiveOverwhelming selectionGreater assurance of qualityNeed to be bought at the dealership
Quality can be equal to or greater than OEMMay not have a warrantyComes with a warrantyQuality may not be superior

Table Comparing OEM & Aftermarket Price

VehicleOEM Fuel Pump CostAfter Market Cost
2004 Honda Accord$245.00$30.00 - $150.00
2010 Toyota Camry$330.00$45.00 - $160.00
2000 Chevy Silverado$200.00$40.00 - $65.00

Considering the Availability of Different Parts – Shop Online or Go Local?

Car owners have the option of buying a range of parts from local merchants and online stores. It is possible to purchase everything from premium rubber car mats to specialist touring gear knobs and anti-theft valve caps.

Used Auto Parts and Tools

One of the most important criteria for used auto part locations and online stores is the availability of parts. Many customers will pay a little more for a part if they know it is available.

One of the largest retail outlets in the United States is Auto Parts Warehouse where you are able to find about any part for your vehicle, unless you drive a classic car. You may even be interested in purchasing essential components such as air bags and exhausts.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that these parts are constantly being updated. You might find that the highly priced custom parts quickly fall in price as they are superseded by more advanced items.

Top Reasons Drivers Buy Used Auto Parts over OEM

 Top 5 Reasons to Choose Used Auto Parts
1A Variety of Sources
2Convenient / Availability
3Changing Manufacturer Standards of OEM
4Refurbished Options
5Affordability

Buying Second-Hand or Refurbished Automobile Parts

You will discover that there are a great number of cheap second hand parts available online. However, you should remember that these parts are unlikely to last for as long as the brand new equivalents.

DENSO alternator a refurbished car component

A refurbished DENSO Alternator. One of the most popular re-manufactured alternators claiming to exceed manufacture standards.

Image Credit: DENSO Auto Parts

They might even have defects which aren’t mentioned in the product description. If you’re worried about these issues then it would be finding a seller with a comprehensive return and refund policy.

You are also advised to have a read of the comments made by previous buyers or check ThoughtCo’s author Matthew Wright’s guideline, such as “Asking questions”.

If you aren’t sure whether a used product is absolutely compatible with your vehicle then it would be sensible to send the seller a message. They should be able to provide details regarding the year, model and specification of certain parts.

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Those of you who feel uneasy about the thought of buying from unknown retailers might think about attending swap meets. You’ll have the option to interact with the sellers and carefully review specialist car parts at these events.

Buying Brand New Parts

If you’re primarily interested in quality and reliability then it would be sensible to invest in new car parts. You may even be prepared to pay a little bit more for the assurance of a branded item.

Poll by Users, What is the Best Used Auto Part Store?

RankPopular Used Auto Part StorePercentage Vote from Poll
1NAPA41.46%
2Autozone20.33%
3O'reilly16.26%
4Advance12.20%
5Pep Boys5.69%
6Carquest4.07%

Poll provided by City Data Forums

You could pay for an official Ford bumper protector or a Sovereign alternator from one of the major online stores.

However, it would be advisable to read the customer reviews and store guarantees before making a purchase. If you’re really unsure of which parts to buy then you should ask for the opinion of a trusted mechanic.

chart showing which used auto parts customers prefer

Although there are “other” stores to buy parts, such as Amazon.com or Ebay, many customers still prefer to use brick and motor stores to shop for used auto parts. This is a graph of the poll (from table above) and the top auto part stores which customers prefer.

Of course you have the option of purchasing parts from a local store. This will mean that you don’t have the inconvenience of waiting around for the delivery of your vehicle parts.

There may also be the chance to discuss your buying options with a knowledgeable engineer. However, you might be able to find alternative parts at significantly reduced prices online.

Choosing How to Fit Used Auto Parts

You may have the technical expertise to fit basic parts by yourself. However, you are advised to resist the temptation of fitting new exhausts or engines. If you make any mistakes then there’ll be a risk of invalidating your insurance.

There will even be a possibility of prosecution if your vehicle is found to be in breach of the road laws. That’s why you are encouraged to visit a local garage. You’ll probably find that the mechanics charge very reasonable prices for the fitting of essential vehicle components.

Sam Butterworth

Sam Butterworth

Sam Butterworth is a journalist, blogger and auto enthusiast with a particular penchant for classic sports cars and motorhomes/RVs. He currently drives a completely insensible but fun 1992 Toyota MR2.

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