There are about 100 major auto parts suppliers on the internet. These are not your local parts store with a web site, (there are thousands of those), these are companies that make most of there sales on the web. Researching 100 sites before making a purchase is not my idea of how to start a great buying experience. So let me give you a few things to look for that will make your buying experience a pleasant one and help you bypass sites that may not provide the best security or customer service.
If you do a search on Google for auto parts keep this in mind. The ads you see at the top and down the right column are Sponsored Links. The ads at the top are highlighted and the ads in the right column have a line down the page. This is to separate these ads from the rest of the ads on the page. What is the difference? The Sponsored Links are ads from advertisers who paid to be in those positions. The rest of the ads are placed in page rank, which is a another story. But in a nut shell, the most popular advertiser is first, the next most popular is next and so on. The first ad is a good place to start, then just go down the page one ad after the other. I would try to stick with the first couple of pages otherwise it will get to time consuming. You should also check out a few of the paid ads. They paid to be on Google's first page so they want your business.
When you get to an advertisers site the first thing to look for is how secure is their site. Scroll down to the bottom of their home page to see what kind of security services they use. You may see the VeriSign Seal. When you click on the seal, you get a pop-up window from VeriSign which will give you the security services that the web sight is using. Such as, SSL Certificate expiration date, if they use Encrypted Data Transmission and if the site owners have been Verified. VeriSign is a very popular and well know security service, but there are others. McAfee Secure is another.
Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau? Have they been rated or Certified by BizRate.com? It would be very rare to find a site with all of these but, the more the better. The point is you want to make sure you are dealing with a secure web site. You are going to be giving them your credit card, bank and personal information, so check out their site security, this is very important.
Next check their warranty. What is the warranty on their parts? What is their parts return policy? Do they have free or discount shipping? Is their check out secure and how long will it take to get your parts? What if you have a question, when is customer service available? It looks like a lot to look for before you even place an order but, it is necessary. Every order is not perfect every time so you have to protect yourself and your wallet if there is a problem.
Now you want to check out their ordering system. Most automotive parts sites use an Online Catalog Ordering System. They are very easy to use. Some will ask you for your vehicles year, make and model then you click the search button and a list of all the parts available for your vehicle will appear. Others may ask you what part you are looking for first and then ask for your vehicle information. So make sure you have all the needed vehicle information handy. Your vehicles, year, make model and engine size, should be all you need. You can get most of this information from your registration. You engine size is on the information label in your engine compartment or sometime stamped on your air cleaner or valve cover.
If you are not comfortable with an Online Catalog Ordering System, most reputable site will have 24/7 Phone Ordering where you can talk to a real person. With your online order or phone order you will get a confirmation number, keep this number in a safe place. The online order should also give you a printable receipt. Don't forget to print it.
When your parts arrive the first thing you do is check the package for shipping damage. Make note of any holes in the package or evidence that the package was dropped. If there is shipping damage, report it right away to the shipping company. When you are ready to open the package, do so carefully. If there is a problem and you have to return the parts you will need the original shipping package. So do not damage it. Also check the invoice or packing slip to make sure what you ordered is what you got.
Finally keep all your receipts, invoices and conformation numbers together where you can find them. If you do have a failed part and have to return it, you will have everything you need.
If you would like to know which online Auto Parts Store I use, visit my automotive web site Jeeplibertyparts.com