The automotive aftermarket industry is set to reach $513.1 billion by 2027. It is arguably one of the world’s largest industries, right beside the oil and gas and real estate industries. Millions of consumers are searching for car parts online every day. You may not think there’s much to it, but there are certain things you should know about how to find auto parts online.
If you take your vehicle to a repair shop, your repair guy will probably offer to get the spare parts for your car. However, repair shops typically charge a lot more than an average dealership. You can save a considerable sum of money by getting the car part on your own. Rest assured that this no longer means endlessly roaming around the local store and salvage yards – everyone has an online auto part catalog these days. You don’t even have to leave your home to find the parts you need!
Before you dive into online searching, here are some essential tips to keep in mind so you don’t end up with something you can’t use.
Identify the Right Part
The first tip is probably the most obvious one – make sure you identify the exact car part that needs replacing. If you’re knowledgeable about cars, perhaps you can do this yourself. You may already know what’s wrong with your vehicle and what you need to buy.
If you’re not the best with cars, it would be better to take it to a repair shop and see what they tell you. Once your mechanic lets you know what needs replacing (such as brake pads, wiper blades, tires, an air filter, bumper, or a fuel pump), you can start your search for the right car part.
Know Your Car Data
The biggest problem with searching for auto parts is whether you’ll find ones that fit the make and model of your car. This is why any credible online auto parts store will ask you to type in the data such as the car manufacturer, model, and series, the year of manufacture, and the engine type. You should find all of this information in the vehicle registration certificate or the vehicle license.
Another important number is the VIN or the Vehicle Identification Number. This is also known as the chassis number, and it consists of 17 characters (both numbers and capital letters).
You can find it in several potential places in your vehicle:
- Corner of the dashboard
- Inside the driver’s door on a factory sticker
- Inside the passenger door
- In a small compartment next to the passenger seat
- In the trunk
- On the underside of the hood
- On the engine
Every spare part you take a look at should have a chassis number to go with it. Compare it with the chassis number of your car and check whether or not it fits.
Genuine vs. Replacement Car Parts
While you’re browsing the online auto parts store, you may run into terminology such as OE parts or OEM parts, as well as genuine or replacement parts. More often than not, they can vary significantly in price.
OE parts are also known as genuine parts. OE stands for Original Equipment, meaning that these parts are the original parts the car was built within the factory. They were made directly by the manufacturer of your vehicle and thus are quite expensive. At the same time, they’re incredibly high-quality parts – arguably the best.
OEM parts are replacement parts. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This means that the manufacturer of this part has been approved for use in vehicles of the same brand as yours. Replacement parts are produced for specific makes and models by highly trained technicians and according to all procedures approved by the original factory. Because they are not OE but OEM, these parts can be significantly less expensive.
You may want only the best for your car, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook OEM parts. These replacements are still high in quality, and they will uphold the integrity of your vehicle as well as make it look seamless – like there never was a need for replacing anything, to begin with.
Another word of advice would be not to get parts without a warranty, no matter where you’re buying from. Look for fitment data or perhaps a fitment video to see how the part would look on your car.
Salvaged, Reconditioned, and Remanufactured Parts
If you run into remanufactured, reconditioned, or salvaged parts on an eCommerce platform, you should know what these are so you don’t accidentally purchase a part that will fail you sooner rather than later.
Remanufactured parts consist of more than one component, such as a gearbox or the whole engine. When one component fails in such a complicated part, the entire unit is stripped down, and the broken component is replaced with a new one. After that, the unit as a whole is rebuilt and tested to ensure it’s functioning correctly.
Reconditioned parts are also made of more components. The principle is mostly the same as with the remanufactured parts; only the broken component is replaced with a used component rather than a new one. Some items, such as fasteners, may still be new. Given their utilization of used parts, reconditioned engines or gearboxes are cheaper than remanufactured ones. It’s difficult to say how long they will last.
Salvaged parts are also used parts, but their only source are scrapped cars. They sell for incredibly low prices, but you should stay away from these unless you don’t care about the state of your vehicle as long as it’s running. It’s almost impossible to tell how many miles were on a salvaged part or what condition it was in when reclaimed from a scrapped car.
Beware of Phenomenally Low Prices
Understandably, car owners don’t want to put too big of a dent in their budget for a new car part. After all, this is why you want to purchase it yourself and not go through a mechanic.
You may stumble upon aftermarket parts that are almost too cheap to be true. Before you start celebrating, do a little research: is this an OEM part? Does the manufacturer have a license from the original manufacturer? Will you be getting a warranty?
Often, amazingly cheap aftermarket auto parts only look like the real deal on the surface. They’re made from low-quality materials, and sometimes they don’t even fit the measurements for your car. Try to avoid pitfalls such as these.
Even though finding spare automotive parts for your vehicle isn’t rocket science, there are still some things to consider.
Before you even begin your search for an excellent online auto parts seller, make sure that you have successfully identified the part you need and that you also have all the necessary car data. The VIN will be of great help in finding the specific parts that fit into your vehicle.
Decide whether you’re going for an OE or an OEM part. Or if perhaps you want a reconditioned, remanufactured, or salvaged part. This will depend on the size of your budget, as well as the type of vehicle you’re driving – some brands are more expensive than others.
Lastly, use caution when you face phenomenally low prices. An online retailer that offers excellent discounts is okay; make sure that you will get that warranty, that you’re buying at least an OEM-quality part, and that it will work for your vehicle. If it seems too good to be true, in the world of aftermarket auto parts, it usually is. Looking for a comprehensive auto parts catalog that you can integrate into your auto parts business? Contact Illumaware for more information on a software solution that will help your business thrive!