There is nothing more frustrating than having a simple piece of your car – be it a window lever or an alternator – that needs to be replaced yet costs almost as much as the car itself. You might be surprised about where you can find the car parts you need for less!
Before You Begin
If you need parts for your new car, be sure that you are not going to void your warranty. If you go to your dealer, you can be assured that you are getting Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts put in your car. Elsewhere, you will most likely be shopping for what are called “aftermarket parts,” or any part that is not built by your car’s manufacturer.
Aftermarket parts are not necessarily lower in quality than OEM parts; in fact, many are actually built to be better, and yet they still cost less. Most aftermarket parts come with warranties, though some may not. The best thing you can do is to be informed.
You don’t need to be concerned with OEM vs. aftermarket parts with older cars or used cars that are no longer under warranty. As long as you are getting quality parts, the origin simply doesn’t matter. Now, where can you find these parts?
1. On Vacation
Pack your bags and grab that guidebook for your car’s overseas home. You could find the parts you’re looking for in your vehicle’s native land if you’re lucky. For example, the Bentley Motors headquarters in Cheshire, England, held a garage sale back in 2009, offering everything from full V8 engine blocks to indicator bulbs and classic handbooks.
While the Bentley sale may be over, keep your eyes peeled for other manufacturers that might decide to do something similar, such as BMW, which recently opened an online parts store for their cars and motorcycles manufactured between 1960-1990.
Not able or willing to go out of the country for that part? Try some local arenas, such as:
2. Insurance Auctions
If someone’s car is totaled, that means it would cost more to repair the car than their car insurance company has determined it is worth. After settling with the insured, the insurance company takes possession of the car and sells it at public auction, where they are typically sold to salvage yards. It is then taken apart and sold piece by piece either as “used” or, with a little reworking, as “remanufactured” parts. You can go to these auctions and get the car parts yourself, or look for auction resellers and just buy your part.
Sites such as Salvage Auto offer up the parts from cars that have been totaled out by insurance companies. In fact, you may also find parts for your boat, snowmobile, motorcycle, or heavy machinery this way, too.
3. The Fair
Watch for state and county fairs that hold special auto events, such as the Minnesota State Fair’s GMCCA Car Show & Swap Meet event on June 10. If you are unfamiliar with what a swap meet is, it’s much like a giant yard sale where several people gather to sell and sometimes trade used items. You’ll be amazed at what you can find.
If this sounds like a lot of work, fear not. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your easy chair if you look online for some fantastic deals:
4. Specialty Sites
The Internet is rife with auto parts sites, such as BuyAutoParts.com, where you can get new parts shipped all over the continental U.S. This site offers warranties that they say are better than the manufacturer’s.
PartsHotLines.com offers a search mechanism for used auto parts. Enter the year, make, and model of your vehicle, the name of the part you are looking for, your zip code, and – presto – parts in your area will show in the live search.
eBay’s auto parts and accessories arena has become so successful that it now offers its own area (motors.ebay.com). Just click on the tab labeled “Parts & Accessories” to find and bid on the part you need. Of course, if you decide you no longer want to fix your car, you may post it for sale there, too.
Movies that sell car parts? Head over to YouTube and do a search on “used auto parts.” Believe it or not, you will find videos such as Junk Yard Parts. They found a very creative way to showcase classic car parts, and this video even has a plea from the junkyard dog himself. YouTube is interactive, so you may leave comments and/or questions for the poster and get feedback from others.
Don’t forget what a powerful search engine Twitter can be. You can often find deals by searching for the keywords “auto parts” and your car’s make or model. Some Twitter accounts that offer up-to-the-minute auto parts deals include Best Used Auto parts (@automotixllc), Buxr Deals (@buxr), and Car Stuff (@carstuffeed). Make sure to follow your car manufacturer, as well – most major automakers have Twitter accounts.
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to find the part you are looking for, whether your car is a classic or late model. You have plenty of options that do not involve pushing, pulling, or dragging your car back to the dealer.