When your car breaks down and you take it to the mechanic or dealership, most people purchase the replacement parts from them. They don’t think they have any other options. The truth is they do. People can buy the parts from another source, and then bring them in to get installed by the professionals, or install the parts themselves.
A lot of times the store where you can buy the part yourself is where the mechanic also buys it. So, you have to pay for the same part after the mechanic marks it up. To save money, it is best to cut out the middleman and pay for the part yourself. Let the mechanic make money on the labor, not the part.
With the downturn in the economy, people are now fixing their old cars instead of buying new ones. Thus, the number of people buying auto parts for themselves is increasing every year. The “Do It Yourselfers” and the “Do It for Me” shoppers are now controlling the market. Sharper companies realize this and are selling directly to the car owner.
This method of getting auto parts can save you a good amount of money, but the thought of buying your own car parts can be daunting. How many of you have bought auto parts on your own before? Odds are not too many. Now, how many of you have bought auto parts online? Odds are even fewer. When purchasing auto parts online, you need to do some research. Here are the most important aspects to check before getting auto parts online.
The first thing you need to do is find out what is really wrong with your car. You do not want to go online and buy a part that you don’t even really need. The best thing to do is to take it to a certified mechanic and have them diagnose the car.
After the mechanic gives you a quote and tells you what parts you need, tell him you will think about it. Then go home and see if you can find the same parts cheaper online. Mostly likely you will be able to. The same exact AC Compressor that the dealer or mechanic was trying to sell to you for $750 to $800, can probably be found for $350. To save even more money, call around and see what shop will give you a free quote before taking it in to get diagnosed.
Now that you have figured out what is wrong with your car and what prices you should be paying, let’s go over what you should look for in an online auto parts company.
What kind of warranty does the part come with? Some online auto part companies provide free warranties, while other companies charge. Does the warranty cover shipping? In the case the part does go bad, will the company pay for the shipping of the defective part back to them and the new one to you? What do you have to do to make sure you do not void the warranty? In a lot of cases, companies have certain steps you need to take during installation to make sure the part was installed properly. You need to make sure you follow the steps when you’re installing, or inform the mechanic working on the vehicle.
How good is the company’s customer service? Sometimes the best price is not always the best purchase. The online store that has the best price may offer you that price because they cut back in other areas. One such area could be customer service. Before you place an order for a part, make sure you look into their customer service. Does the website have a phone number, so you can call them in case you need assistance throughout the process? I know this sounds ridiculous, but you would be surprised by the amount of times you can’t find a number on a website. Is the customer service office located in America, or has it been outsourced? Unlike other industries, with car parts you need to deal with people who know your car.
Just like any company you do business with, you want to make sure the online auto parts store is reputable. The fact that an online company is not a brick-and-motor store, which you can walk into and check out with your own eyes can make this process more difficult. The best way to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company is to check the company’s reputation online. Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau? If they are, what is their rating? What are their ratings on other review websites? There are many websites which review online merchants. Look into their reviews and see what past customers have to say.
Some auto parts can weigh a lot, which means you might have to pay a hefty load to ship it. Though, this is no reason to not buy online. A lot of companies do provide free shipping, but make sure to read over the shipping details. Do they ship free to where you live? How much money do you have to pay before the company offers free shipping? What method is the free shipping, ie Overnight, Ground, etc.? Do you have to be there to sign for the package?
No matter how much we know a company or trust it, we can’t help but feel a little hesitant when entering credit card information. If you are worried, look over the website. See what the company does to protect you from credit card theft.
When purchasing auto parts you can never ask too many questions. Contact the company with any questions you have. If they are a reputable company they will get back to quickly with an answer.
Remember that the company can only sell you a part based on the information you give them. Make sure you have all the correct information when looking for a part. You would be surprised by how many different parts there are for a specific car. The basics are knowing your make, model, and year, but sometimes companies need to know more. Such as, your engine size, your VIN number, the original manufacturer part number of the part, and/or the production date of your vehicle down to the exact month. The more information you have the more likely you are to get the right part.
Like anything new, buying auto parts online can seem a bit intimidating, but as long as you follow the basic steps listed above you will be better than fine. You will save money, and get your car back on the road quickly. Hopefully this answered any questions you might have had in regards to purchasing auto parts, as well as anything else online.
Article Courtesy of Brad Paugh, Marketing Specialist, BuyAutoParts.com. Visit their website for more information about buying auto parts.