Damaged cars will almost always require at least a few replacement parts in order to return the car to working condition again. Sourcing these parts can be a daunting task for the inexperienced and a wrong decision could end up costing you more money down the road in further repairs. Here we will discuss the pros and cons of each source of automotive parts – mainly focusing on new parts (we will cover used parts in another section).
- The Dealership (OEM) – Sometimes known as “The Stealership”, this is often the easiest place to source parts for your vehicle and usually the first place people turn to when they’re in a rush. The downside? Dealership parts are usually the most expensive out of all your options. This is for a number of good reasons. Dealership parts (also known as Original Equipment manufacturer or OEM) are generally considered to be the highest quality and most reliable for regular applications. If you’re not looking for performance enhancements and you want to use what the car came with from the factory, the dealership might be your best option. Parts may also have received important updates or improvements due to Technical Service Bulletins or “TSBs” meaning that engineers have redesigned the part after noticing high rates of failure from customers. Lastly, OEM parts will generally come with a warranty so you know that the dealership will have your back in case the part breaks again.
- Independant Shops (Aftermarket) – A less expensive option compared to a dealership is to go to a smaller independent parts shop (e.g. Autozone). These shops will stock new “Aftermarket” parts which means that they were made by a third party (not your car’s manufacturer) to fit your specific vehicle. The upside is that these parts will generally be much cheaper than the same part at the dealership – usually anywhere from 20-70%. The downside is that these parts may not be as high quality as OEM parts which can lead to premature failure or poor fitment in some cases. The shop selling you the part should be able to provide you with information on all your available options and also provide a warranty in case the part fails prematurely.
- Online Retailers (Aftermarket) – Buying your parts online (e.g. eBay) is usually the cheapest option but will come with a few pitfalls. Online retailers usually don’t have a retail storefront which means they can save money by renting warehouse space in less expensive rural areas – these savings are then passed on to the consumer in the form of lower prices. The downside to this approach is that shipping costs might be substantial for heavier items and this may negate your savings. Another downside is that you are taking a risk since you cannot see the physical item before you buy it, only pictures. This means that you may not notice important details about the item that can affect compatibility with your vehicle. Lastly, there is usually a no-return policy on online auto parts so you need to be 100% sure that they part you are buying will fit your vehicle before you commit to the purchase.
As you can see, the modern consumer has a plethora of options when shopping for new car parts. It is clear that there are substantial tradeoffs regarding price to quality and customer service depending on the option that you choose. As always, ensure that you consider the cost/benefit for your particular situation after factoring in all the risks mentioned above. Using these tips, you can surely source an amazing deal by shopping around!