Many resources exist to help you repair or modify your car. Doing it yourself is both satisfying and less expensive than taking it to a repair facility. In fact, most maintenance service and light repairs are truly feasible for anyone who can hold a wrench.
I shared my favorite YouTube car repair channels HERE, so you have that resource to learn the process to repair or maintain your specific car. Since most repairs require parts, I have assembled my preferred parts sources for your use.
If you can plan ahead, buying parts online is the best way to go. Not all online retailers are the same, and I used several bad ones. My list of reliable sources are shared below:
This is by far my favorite place to order parts. They have a great selection for most vehicles, and offer different quality levels (Economy, Daily Driver, Performance) depending on your budget.
Their online catalog is easy to navigate and the parts images are accurate and helpful. More importantly, I trust that the parts they list are correct for my car. They are pretty good about shipping quickly, but shipping is extra.
Most parts arrive within two days, which is great if you know by Tuesday that you are going to work on your car on Saturday. Also, if you order multiple parts there is a chance they may come from different warehouses. If that happens, you may end up paying more in shipping.
Access their online catalog HERE.
Yes, Amazon sells car parts! Since you are likely buying stuff from them several times a week, why not toss some car parts into your cart while you are there?
When searching for parts, be sure you input your vehicle information to make sure the part you buy is correct for your car. Be aware, though…the Amazon filter for parts is not as accurate as RockAuto.com. Be guided by my pro tip below:
Pro tip: look up your part on RockAuto.com to get the part number, then search that part number on Amazon.com to ensure accuracy.
Be sure to compare the cost of the Amazon part with “free” Prime shipping to the total cost of the RockAuto.com part with shipping. It may end up being cheaper at RockAuto.com. If that is the case, go with RockAuto.com.
In case you forget how to find Amazon.com, click HERE to go to their automotive parts page.
This is my place of last resort when buying parts online. There may be a time when the above sources don’t have what you need, or you might be interested in a used part. In that case, eBay Motors may be the place for you.
This section of eBay has come a long way over the past year. They are making a concerted effort to simplify the parts search on their site. The downside to shopping here is that you are offered parts from multiple sellers, so be sure to check out their reviews and location. Some parts will come directly from China, which will affect your time to delivery.
The homepage for eBay Motors can be found HERE.
If you are not able to plan your repair ahead of time, then buying from a local source is your only option. You may pay a little extra for the convenience of local buying, but sometimes it can’t be helped.
Several years ago, two different repair shops told me they source their parts from AutoZone. When I pressed for a reason, both of them told me that AutoZone stands behind their parts–even if the part is out of warranty. That was all I needed to hear.
Pro tip: Download the AutoZone app, or use their website. I use it to search parts at my local store to see if they are in stock. If not, I can easily find another store that has it in inventory. You can then buy it online for curbside pickup.
By the way, AutoZone is a great place to buy car batteries and wiper blades. They will even install them at no charge.
If you do not have an AutoZone in your area, consider O’Reilly Auto Parts as a backup. I’m not a big fan of O’Reilly, but they will do in a pinch.
In a few instances, a part may only be available from your car’s manufacturer (the “OEM”). Sadly, your local dealer’s parts department is probably operating the same as it has for the past 40 years. That means you will have to hunt down the parts counter somewhere in the service department.
The three foot wide parts counter will be poorly marked, and you will be greeted by a surly parts advisor who would rather be helping the shop mechanics than a lowly retail customer. You will pay full retail for a part that would be half the price in the aftermarket.
There is some good news, though. Some enterprising dealers have opened online stores where you can order these OEM parts less than retail cost. It will require some serious Google searching, but it will be worth it when you find it.
Special Note: If you need a sensor or other electronic part for your car, buy the OEM part. I have had real issues with aftermarket sensors lately. I had an oxygen sensor and a evaporative canister solenoid both go bad within a week of installation. In both cases, they set the check engine light in the cars I serviced. Pay the extra price for the OEM part in this case.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below. I help a lot of family and friends with their cars, so have used all of the sources above for parts. If you get into a jam, let me know!