If your car is in need of repairs, there’s a few options at your disposal of how to source the parts to fix your car. I’m here to tell you not only the benefits of purchasing car parts online, but also what to watch out for. Purchasing your car parts online can help save not only loads of money, but also loads of time. There are many benefits over buying from traditional bricks and mortar stores such as Supercheap Auto, Autobarn and Repco to name a few. The greatest advantage of buying parts from online shop is that you generally have the option of selecting from a larger variety and the prices are in most cases lower as an internet based seller will have lower overheads to recoup – no big stores with high rents, electricity bills etc. However, there are a few risks involved with shopping for car parts online. We have created a comprehensive guide for you to help you make the right decisions while purchasing parts online
Car Parts Online
Replacement parts can be very complex because each car has different features, such as the model, vehicle year, engine size, 4 door, 2 door, coupe, manual, convertible, automatic, and so forth. If the car parts website does not have the vehicle database properly set up, then chances are that you will be directed to replacement parts that do not match your vehicle. The best way to make sure that you are looking at the right car parts is to research the right replacement part codes related to your vehicle. Also, take your time to purchase from a retailer who will provide you with pre and post sales service to help you confirm the right parts for your car, not some fly by night eBay seller.
Preparation in Advance
Understand the symptoms of your car by contributing to and visiting various forums, talking to mechanics and friends, and by utilising a OBD scanner tool to view the faulty codes. By using an OBD scanner you will be able to access numerous fault codes and will be able to view the status of the cars sub-systems. If you take the time to research the fault codes online, you will be able to find detailed information such as symptoms, troubleshooting tips, and possible solutions.
You can avoid buying incorrect items by using the OEM online parts catalogue in order to find the part numbers before you place your order online. The catalogue includes important information related to every part, OEM numbers, and depending on the catalogue, sometimes you even get aftermarket parts cross-reference – as is the case with www.etk.cc for all you BMW owners.
In the OEM catalogues, all of the parts have been grouped into diagrams and those diagrams have been divided into categories and even subcategories for your convenience. These catalogues will even help you identify the production date, model, and other detailed information about your car from the VIN number. The reputable auto parts retailers have the ability to cross check the OEM numbers in order to make sure that you purchase the proper parts.
Set Sensible Delivery Expectations
You should never schedule your repair on the day that you think that the replacement parts will arrive. Give yourself some lead time because there is always a chance for an order delay or in the worst case, wrong parts may be delivered to your door. Set an appropriate buffer and schedule an appointment with your mechanic when you’ve received the correct parts.
Learn the Car Part Acronyms
Replacement car parts are categorised based on how they are sold to the customers or by the manufacturer. Understanding the acronyms can help you save loads of money while shopping online. Selecting the right parts and quality brands will enhance not only the performance of your vehicle but also keep you safe.
Common Acronyms for Car Replacement Parts:
Genuine: These replacement parts are available in Genuine packaging, simple. If the packaging does not have a manufacturer stamp/label on it or it does not come in a Genuine box, then it is not a Genuine part. Also, do understand that the vehicle manufacturers do not actually make these parts. They are subcontracted to car part companies that manufacture products for the car manufacturers. The company that manufactures such parts is referred to as the Original Equipment Manufacturer.
OEM: This acronym stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. These products are the same as Genuine parts, but the only difference is that the manufacturer has decided to sell the parts in their own packaging rather than the package of the vehicle manufacturers nameplate. An example of this would be the W917 Mann Oil Filter that fits dozens of Volvo’s. Mann sell it in their green and gold packaging and put their brand and stamps on the oil filter. Volvo buy this product from Mann and sell it as (3517857), put their own labelling on the filter, and sell it in the famous Volvo blue box. It’s the same product, coming off the same product line. Generally you’ll save money buying the Mann branded product, over the Volvo branded product.
Aftermarket: These parts have been manufactured by a company that has never been given a contract by leading car manufacturers to play a role as their Original Equipment manufacturer. Even though the company has not been given a major contract, the parts that they manufacture can be just as good as the OEM mainly because they are in most cases crafted with the same machinery and materials. Most cases!
Have a Strategy for Brand & Quality
There is always the risk of purchasing low quality parts when you buy something that is cheap and not OEM. Here’s our general view to purchasing car parts online. The three categories of replacement parts are:
Category A – High Risk: If the part fails while driving, then it can lead to significant consequences to life/ or seriously compromise your safety. These parts include suspension, steering, and brakes. For this category, OEM and Genuine parts are recommended, or even a brand that is reputed in the market or has received excellent feedback from the customers. This is definitely where you don’t want to be cutting corners and saving a few dollars. It’s simply not worth it. At Voluto we’d recommend brands like Meyle, Sachs, Zimmermann, Brembo – which are generally a lower cost aftermarket alternative to genuine or OEM
Category B – Medium Risk: Damage to the vehicle will occur if these parts fail. These parts include gaskets, engine parts, and timing parts. For this category you should purchase OEM or Genuine parts, or from good quality, well known and established aftermarket brands.
Category C – Low Risk: Failure of these parts does not cause damage to the vehicle or life. These parts include the relays, lights, weather-stripping on the exterior, and rubber pieces. You should opt for OEM or Genuine if you can afford the parts, but with Category C you have a lot more flexibility. You can purchase aftermarket parts, but you may have to spend more time with the installation if the parts do not fit properly or if they need to be reinstalled by the mechanic.
As a general rule of thumb though, Voluto will only sell you aftermarket parts that we deem as being excellent quality, from well known established brands. All of our products are sourced from reputable sources and we just won’t sell you unknown brands that don’t have the right track record.
Selecting the Right Store For Car Parts Online
High Quality Services and Customer Support: Always evaluate the customer service before you select a retailer online. A well-known retailer will have many ways of communication to the company such as email, live chat, phone, and social networks – and even some sort of technical support before and after the final transaction. Good retailers will have well-trained staff and in-house customer service in order to cater the customers. You can check the quality of customer service by engaging with them by one of their contact methods and start asking them numerous questions about their services before you purchase car parts.
Clear Product Listings: Check the picture of the item, read the description, OEM reference numbers should be double checked before you place your order. Opt for the retailer that gives importance to quality in their product descriptions so you’ll known exactly what you will receive.
High Quality Website and Catalogue: The use of the retailer website should be very easy. The best retailers will research the replacement parts and will have a variety of products for the customers to choose from. For example: if you want to purchase brake pads and the retailer has 100’s of options available for your particular vehicle, then this means that the retailer has not properly organised their website and hasn’t put pre-thought into selecting parts that they recommend you buy. At Voluto we try to present you with 2-3 options for each part (where possible). So you have an option that will support your budget, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sacrifice quality.
Quality of the Replacement Parts: When it comes to auto parts, quality is the major aspect when it comes to the final decision. You should stick with the retailers that offer Genuine, OEM & well-known aftermarket products. If there are too many generic or low quality aftermarket products, avoid buying parts from that website.
These guidelines and tips have been provided here so that you can have an excellent experience when buying parts online. If you feel that a website has prices that are too good to be true or you do not like the usability of a website, don’t use it! It is important to order from a trusted company and make sure that the retailer has your best interest in mind. At Voluto, we make customers our top priority. We’re here to help answer any queries that you may have.