Whether you're a consumer waiting on a vehicle repair, a service provider in the automotive industry, or a car enthusiast, finding quality automotive replacement parts can at times feel like a scavenger hunt gone bad. While some stores offer cheaper parts, others may present a better value. While you can count on your dealership for quality, they may not have your part in stock. With so many options to weigh, considering factors and scenarios to match, the following functions as a general guide to determining the best place to find automotive replacement parts, and under what conditions.
Auto Parts Retail Store
With the proliferation of franchised auto part retailers, chances are there is a location right around your corner. Stores like Parts Plus will most likely have the lowest prices and a wider selection of parts than small family owned auto parts stores. Auto parts retail stores are usually best for generic auto parts and accessories such as oil filters and windshield wipers.
If a specific part is required, such as a passenger side door handle for a 1996 black Toyota Camry, a visit to your car dealership may be in order. However, it's rare that a dealership will have your specific automotive replacement part in stock, which typically results in increased wait times and marked up prices. Since manufacturers often mark up rates to cover services costs, visiting a dealership should be a last resort.
Auto Salvage Yard
When inexpensiveness is paramount, auto salvage yards are the destination of choice. "Junkyards" will sell automotive replacement parts for just a few dollars, and most carry a wide selection. Use caution. Buying critical automotive replacement parts like those for a transmission, poses the risk of walking away with parts of poor quality. To avoid part failure, these shops should be visited only when seeking out automotive replacement parts that are cosmetic in nature.
With the advent of the internet, wholesale Websites of both new and used automotive replacement parts have begun to find a home on the World Wide Web. Though many online storefronts offer secure ordering and prompt shipping of well made, inexpensive automotive replacement parts, caution is always warranted when shopping online. Look for a phone number so you can speak directly with a customer service representative to help you understand payment, shipping and return policies.
Another crucial factor is security. Look for the HTTPS: protocol in the Web address of the payment page to determine whether your ordering information will be secure, private and protected. (When the browser address bar reads https; it means the Webpage is encrypted with a secure socket layer, or SSL Certificate.) A Webpage with an SSL should also have the SSL logo displayed. Clicking on the logo will show whether the SSL is valid and if it is expired. When online auto stores pass the security test, they can be the absolute best places to find automotive replacement parts; price is often lower online, given the many wholesale providers buying directly from the manufacturer.
Post a Classified Ad
If you still cannot find the replacement part you're looking for, try to reach out to the people in your community. Posting an ad in a local newspaper or on free classified Websites such as Craigslist (http:www.craigslist.org) can be rewarding. You may find that someone in your area has a car that doesn't run but has the working part you are looking for.
Join a Car Club
Finally, if you are looking for automotive replacement parts for classic cars, joining a car club is a good idea, albeit an obvious one. Enthusiasts know that finding automotive replacement parts for cars that our 40 or 50 years old can be quite the challenge. Car clubs will provide tons of resources - and can be a way for you to reach a community of people with similar cars.
Though there are several avenues to finding automotive replacement parts, do look first online to avoid spending unneeded time, money and effort. When credible, online storefronts deliver beyond expectation.