Saturday, March 2, 2024

What to consider when buying car parts

Online shopping has exploded in recent years, allowing us to get a range of products conveniently delivered to our front doors with the click of a button. If you’ve had your fair share of car breakdowns, online shopping may be a less painful way to repair your car. There’s no wasted time or hassle, assuming you’re mechanically adept, can do the work yourself, and know exactly what parts you need.

Regular maintenance is the least your car deserves. It means timely changes to consumables like oil, brake pads, and spark plugs to ensure your car runs smoothly. But some issues are hard to diagnose on the first go, and you’ll want a code scanner to pinpoint what exactly went wrong and which part or parts need replacement. More serious problems may also mean you’ll need the car towed to your local shop.

Here, most of us make our first big mistake: letting the mechanic source the auto parts for us. You’ll pay more for something you need and more for something you don’t. Buying your own auto parts is cheaper. It lets you choose the brand and ensures you get top-quality parts compatible with the car. There are no markups, additional costs, or pats on the back. Shopping online also means that your order arrives within three business days, no matter where you are.

Knowing Which Part You Need

parts for cars

Owners of cars still under warranty will be fortunate (in most cases), as the spare parts and labour costs are covered. Most issues, though, come later on and with higher mileage. The first warning sign is any light in the dash. Ignoring the issue, as most of us do if the car runs as usual, may lead to more costly repairs down the road.

A simple diagnostic scan in cars fitted with OBDII ports will detect what’s wrong and, depending on the software in the scanner, tell you the course of action to remove the fault. Some codes have minor glitches that can be deleted, but others require more attention. And if it’s an engine issue, the check engine sign will remain on.

Codes are a series of letters and numbers. Letters come first and can display issues with the chassis (C), the body (B), the powertrain, the engine and transmission (P), or a network or vehicle integrity fault (U). After this, there are 4 numbers. 0 refers to a generic code, and 1 is a manufacturer code specific to the make and model. The number that follows tells where in the vehicle the problem is. 1 refers to faults in the fueling and air metering, 2 is the fuel injection circuitry, 3 is the ignition, 4 is the exhaust or emissions systems, 5 is idling or cruise control, 6 is the ECU, and 7 and 8 is the transmission.

The last two numbers define the problem in more detail. For example, a P08011 code tells you there is a generic powertrain and transmission issue, or a slipping clutch, something you may or may not notice when changing gears. There are over 18000 diagnostic codes, and the number is rising as cars get more complex. Newer code scanners with updated software will also provide a description of the fault.

Shopping for Replacements

Once you’ve ascertained what’s wrong with the car, you’ll need the part number and your vehicle identification number, or VIN, to get a compatible replacement part that will perform the same and meet the manufacturer’s recommendations. Or you can choose a part or parts that will increase the performance you get from the car. This is where you’ll find better quality and something that will last longer. Often, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying more.

The choice here is between genuine, OEM, and aftermarket auto spares. Knowing the difference opens a few possibilities. Genuine parts are those that are made by the car manufacturer. And you won’t find them anywhere else. So for specific issues, these are the only worthy replacements.

However, most are shared between different car brands and made by specialist companies. This means there’s a likelihood that items like spark plugs, oil filters, lights, mirrors, wiring, etc., can be the same between inexpensive cars and high-end luxury vehicles. But they are designed to work with a specific car make and model. This is what qualifies them for “original equipment,” or OE. The carmaker has tested the parts and guarantees they will work and last for the rated period. Going with OEM parts means fewer headaches, but the prices are often steeper.

Scouring the aftermarket gets you lower prices, usually better build and materials, and parts that often exceed the bare requirements the carmaker sets. If you’re thinking of upgrading, this is the place to look. Especially with parts that bring in more performance, such as the engine internals or related systems like exhausts and cooling components. Such items are highly engineered, tailored to get the last drop of power from the engine, and with more attention to detail and advanced production processes, they last longer.

But the lower price and wider selection of different brands bring more buyers to consider aftermarket components. You don’t have to spend on OEM parts when cheaper alternatives perform at the same level for much less.

Benefits of Online Purchases

There’s a reason behind the spate of closures of traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They can’t compete with online vendors in terms of price. And often, the selection of parts is either very slim or orders can take a while.

Going online means savings across the board, including time. The harder part is choosing a vendor you can trust. Look for stores that cater to all major car brands, with a generous mix of OEM and aftermarket auto parts in different price brackets. Each product needs to be provided with detailed information concerning the listed price, brand, vehicle compatibility, and warranties. And ensure that the vendor has a well-defined return policy in case anything goes wrong. If still in doubt, look up customer reviews and ratings.

What you get in return is a simplified buying process, a range of payment options, stores that are open 24/7, and above all, convenience. Customers can shop from the comfort of their homes, make last-minute changes, and track deliveries in real time. This is the fastest, cheapest, and least painful way to deliver what you need and get your car up and running.

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