It is no secret that the rise of the Internet has completely changed our world. It has brought people, ideas, cultures and merchandise together from around the globe. One of the more mundane benefits from this exchange of information has been to free people from the restrictions of obtaining goods only in their local surroundings. Twenty or thirty years ago, if you needed something, such as spark plugs, you went down to the local parts shop and bought them. If they didn't have them, you could either travel to another store, or request a "special order", which might take weeks to arrive, if at all. The only other option was to browse a parts catalog and either place an order yourself, or have the parts shop order it for you.
Today, nearly any conceivable part for your automobile can be ordered online and shipped to you within a few days. You're no longer tied to the existing inventory of a single shop or catalog company. Amazon.com for example, not only has their own formidable array of parts, they also represent hundreds of smaller merchants, who may offer anything from the ordinary to the truly bizarre. And since many parts do not need to be inspected by the customer beforehand (all things being equal, a piston ring is a piston ring), it's also much faster to order from the web, to say nothing of cheaper since you cut out the middleman.
Another consequence of shopping the Internet is that you don't have to try and lug something large and/or heavy back to where you need it. You can actually order an entire engine block, and let the shipper deal with getting it to your front door. Or at least the front of your garage. If you're involved in a restoration job, how much easier to preorder all the parts you know you'll need, from a crankshaft to valve lifters to headlight covers.
Speaking of restoration or customization work, where can you find a manual for Mustangs from 1967 to 1970? What about converting a 1995 Jeep for offroad driving? A world of manuals, owners guides and project ideas is at your fingertips, or at least a few mouse clicks away. Many sites that offer this often hard to find paperwork will also have reviews of the material, to guide you towards books that will be truly informative and worthwhile reading. A useful feature you won't get with the small selection spinning around on a tiny rack at many brick and mortar parts stores.
Yes, like many other sphere of human activity, even the humble act of getting your car repaired or upgraded has been vastly improved by the spread of the Net. You can shop at home, at one in the morning, to buy parts from the other side of the country (or farther!). And they'll be delivered directly to you, with no need to worry about how you'll get this axle home, since your car obviously isn't working! Auto parts online is an idea whose time has come.