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Buying car parts online

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

May 9, 2019

Award winning automotive writer with experience rebuilding Land Rovers.
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When it comes to buying car parts online, you can quickly end up buying a box of nuts and bolts with just a picture of the part. Or the part is ‘sold as seen,’ but you didn’t get to see that big rusty hole in the bottom. How do you tell when something is too good to be true, and something is a great deal?

Photo by Jan de Keijzer on Unsplash

There are a lot of questions that you should answer before you buy anything online, and you should spend some time on research too. There are a lot of parts from breakers yards, secondhand, new, no-name and of course rip off merchants. So think about the following:

  • What parts will fit and be suitable for my vehicle?
  • Will the cheaper option be worth it in the long run? What are the reviews like?
  • If I buy a no-name/unbranded item will it fit as well as the original?
  • What is the return policy for the item?
  • Delivery time?

There are of course many more questions to be asked, but that is a start.

Here is how to maximize your search.

Be sure of what you want before you start. When you go shopping for food, you make a list and check things off as you go- try to do the same here. In the end, the goal is to get the part you need, within your budget, and in the delivery time that you need. Don’t spend time browsing after you’ve found what you need or you’ll spend more than you want. If you're going to buy tires online, let that be the focus.

Always read the reviews. There will be plenty of glowing ones, sure - because plenty of people did have great experiences. But, read the ones that did and see if there is a common complaint that they had. If it seems hit and miss, with a big mix of high and low recommendations, it is prudent to give it a miss.

Customer service is terrific - when you are about to spend money, but after that, it can take a turn for the worst. Check that you can return faulty products, things that don’t fit or it might even be that you purchased the wrong set. It can be a costly mistake not to be able to return something that you have no use for. Follow-up care matters a lot so make sure you are getting what you pay for.

There is a lot that you don’t know about your car and the part you need, and some establishments are tempted to recommend things that you just don’t need. So before you settle on anything, give a few places a call. They should have an experienced team available to take your call and guide you with the best products.

Even on their best day, a company can get it wrong. They might send the wrong part, or perhaps it has been damaged in transit - because human error is a thing, even when we shop online. But stay focused, be clear about what you need and your budget and you should have a successful buying ‘trip.’

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