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Buying auto parts

where is the best place to buy auto parts. oreilly auto, advance auto, auto zone rock auto. junk yard or OEM

I don’t like junk yards, because I don’t like used parts, but any retail store will do. Call ahead to see if they have what you need in stock, and bring the old part with you to compare to the new one and make sure they’re giving you the correct part.

I’ve been to O’Rielly, Advance, and Auto Zone, (and others) and they’re all the same in terms of service.

OEM parts (especially Honda parts) tend to be more expensive, but not any better than aftermarket parts in terms of quality. After all, most aftermarket parts meet OEM specifications.

Occasionally, I order parts online, but only when I have to because they are hard to find. There is no substitute for holding the old and new part side by side to compare them, and there is often a core charge for recycling the old part at an auto parts store.


When I was young and poor and did all my own work I frequently bought junkyard parts. The difference between $5 and $25 was huge for me then. once junkyards got Teletype and computer systems linking them together there prices went up tp about 50% of new. I usually buy my parts at NAPA but if you are buying over $100 at one time it is hard to ignore the discounts at Advance. I never just go in there and browse or buy something anymore because the have raised their in store prices to make up for the discounts.

Agree with @Whitey about taking the old part with you. With Advance I order on line to pick up at the store, several times I have found the on line price to be a little less than the walk in store price.

If I have advance notice I am going to need parts or I can drive alternative vehicle, I generally order most of my parts online at rock auto but I still price shop. There can be huge price differences between rock auto and local stores. Advance auto has many online coupons that they will not accept in store but you can order and pick up at the store. Sometimes I will end up at the salvage yard if I am looking for something really expensive. I have 3 trucks and 3 cars I keep on the road. It is too expensive not to shop around.

Whomever stocks the part made by the same manufacturer as the OEM part is what I go to first before looking into your typical aftermarket manufacturers. For example, my O2 sensors, spark plugs & radiator for my Toyota truck are made by Denso so I’ll either go to Rockauto or Amazon to find a good price.

I would not buy parts from AZ or Oriellys. My place of choice is NAPA, OEM, or Rockauto for OEM. When the O used to be Crown Auto and then Champion, I would buy parts from them but still have had better luck with NAPA if you are careful. Never bought anything from Advance so don’t know.

If you can wait a few days or a week for the parts, RockAuto is a great place to order from. Their prices are outstanding, and they have a great selection.

My general preference is napa for things like alternators and starter motors, I do have an AZ within walking distance, so I do get many maintenance parts from them,

If the only sources you have are the national chain stores, using them usually works out ok. The car-repair skills of the staff there varies widely, from completely no experience at all, to pretty good. Since you can’t choose which of the staff helps you with your parts need, you may have to return something b/c it doesn’t work or it is the wrong part for you car; but easy enough to do. I got the wrong valve cover set & radiator coolant fan switch for my Corolla one time from one of those places , and that’s the only two parts I purchased! lol …

For that reason I prefer a local auto parts store to a chain store, even tho I have to drive a little further to find one. The one I use here in San Jose has plenty of car-repair knowledgeable staff on hand to help and answer common diy’er questions. And if they don’t know, they say so. The staff at the national chain stores guess a lot from my experience.

For mail order, Rock Auto is great, but can be inconvenient and frustrating if you get the incorrect part and have to send it back. And it can be more expensive than buying local if you just need a few parts b/c of shipping and handling costs. For a big order where time isn’t too much of a factor Rock Auto definitely makes sense.

I shop online and then decide what I am going to do. A part that might not fit, I buy from the store, usually AZ mostly because I have a loyalty card and they give me the mechanics discount. If I have questions about a particular repair, I go to the local NAPA because the counter people are knowledgeable.

I used to buy more from rockauto but their shipping is through the roof. I recently bought complete struts from the seller’s website that came with free shipping and no tax, for me that was significant savings.

I needed an air filter recently, WM was out of stock, looked on amazon and they had the OEM for cheaper than Fram with free shipping. Nothing as good as buying my parts on Sunday night while relaxing on my couch.

I can see a mechanic having a preference for a certain supplier. But for the average person who might buy an alternator once or twice the difference between the major chains is not worth worrying about.

Depends on the part.
I’ve had problems with Auto Zone parts. They sell a lot of knockoff junk. And they don’t always know what they’re doing… I’ve had to show them what I was talking about. My impression is that they have clerks that probably sold shoes at their last jobs.

I rarely buy parts other than spark plugs from the stores listed. I do buy parts from a company called Sanel’s. They supply all the repair shops in our area. They can be trusted, and the counter guys know what they’re talking about.

Filters I buy at Walmart. Frankly, I think they’re just as good as any other filter. But, than, I change my fluids and filter often enough that they don’t get very dirty. And I don’t drive in the desert, salt flats, extreme heat, or other really extreme conditions. If I lived in the southwest I’d probably reconsider. I’d also move, but that’s a different discussion.

Most parts I order via the internet. However, I have the luxury of having any big work done by the automotive department at the college I retired from. I pay only cost less a 20% discount. While all suppliers I assume offer discounts to all shops, the 20% is an educational discount available from manufacturers only to educational institutions. Brake parts, exhaust parts, and stuff like that the guys at the college get for me… OEM, of course. In some cases, like shocks & struts, I know who the OEM supplier is to the car’s manufacturer, so I’ll go directly to them via the internet.

Belts I get only from Gates. I believe they have the best on the market. I get the “heavy duty” option.

In short, I don’t think there’s a single answer. I suspect most people doing their own cars use different sources for different types of parts.
Guys? Do you all do the same?


Wide range of answers! The only one I didn’t see was Amazon. Their search engine for auto parts is very poor but you can comparison shop Rockauto and others by putting in the manufacturers part number listed at the other sites. If Amazon has it, it usually pops up.

I’ve been buying from Pelican Parts and eEuroparts lately because they carry hard to find Saab parts.

The stranger your car, the wider afield you need to search.

I order motorcycle parts on Amazon. Their website has a handy feature where you can list your vehicles so that, when you look at a part, it will show you at the top of the screen if it fits your vehicle. This picture is one example.

Having lived in various places, I chose to say “they’re all the same” regarding auto parts stores because they tend to vary in employee competency based on location. The O’Rielly’s Auto Parts near my mother’s house has great staff who are knowledgeable and friendly, but the Advance Auto Parts across the street seems to be staffed with flunkies who can’t properly test a battery. Where I live now, the guys at the local Advance Auto Parts seem to know what they’re talking about, but the jokers at the local NAPA never seem to know what I’m talking about. Yet the NAPA store in the last city I lived in was the place to go. Pep Boys in Dallas, TX once tried to rip me off, but the Pep Boys in south Jacksonville is wonderful. @Bing has obviously had negative experiences from Autozone and O’Rielly’s but I’ve never had a problem at either. My point is that leadership makes a difference, both at the store manager level and at other levels of management, such as area manager, regional manager, etc., and I wouldn’t rule out any auto parts store chain until you’ve checked them out in your area.

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@Mustangman; I mentioned Amazon; you are right in the fact that for auto parts their search is not good and not reliable. I find the part # I want from other sites and then search that in Amazon or sometimes I do a google shopping search with the part number and amazon. It has worked for me.

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You’ve never needed a door panel or some other trim piece for an older car . . . ?!


Speaking of rockauto, you have to be REAL careful

You have to make sure all your parts come from the same warehouse, or they’ll REALLY stick it to you, when it comes to s/h charges

That applies to other online vendors also, such as partsgeek


It would help if the OP said what kind of parts or is it just a question to be asking a question. I would imagine every supplier is stronger in some areas then others.

Here’s another vote for Amazon. I’m a prime member so I will choose them first if at all possible. I have never been let down by their “this part fits your vehicle” assessment. I do find it is easier if you have the OEM part number for searching as it rapidly narrows down the offerings to search through. Although I have used the filter feature to accomplish the same thing. At Rockauto I can’t buy a kid’s toy, some mints, a plumbing fitting and a ball joint at the same time :wink: