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Purchasing Car Parts Online

Is there anything I need to look out for when purchasing parts online? I’ve bought parts in the past from Advance Auto and AutoZone without any problems, but eBay has been hit or miss. I bought headlight bulbs and oxygen sensors on eBay that turned out to be duds and don’t want to go through that again. I think the headlight bulbs were generic and not any name brand, so perhaps that was the problem.

I welcome your suggestions. Thank you.

It depends.

Purchasing parts on line can save money. But have a back-up vehicle at hand.

Because sometimes the wrong part gets sent.

Where if the part is purchased from a local parts store, it can be exchanged on the spot.


the aftermarket parts vendors don’t have a super reputation here in general, so for mail-delivered parts probably best to stick with oem (manufacturer’s original) parts if you want to minimize the risk of have to wait for another delivery. I don’t buy mail order parts b/c I’ve found I need to take parts back to the parts store 30-40% of the time, either b/c they didn’t work, were the wrong part number, or I just decided I didn’t want them after all. If you need to do the mail delivery thing for some reason, folks here have mentioned that rock auto is pretty good at sending you another part right away if the first part is faulty. to the extent you can plan well in advance, then it can save you quite a bit of $$. like if you know you have an emissions test upcoming in 6 months, and want to do a tune-up beforehand, you can order the spark plugs, distributor cap, wires, ignition rotor, air filter etc and save a few bucks with not much risk. certain parts are more risky than others too. front wheel drive half-shafts come in a lot of configurations, and it would be easy to get mailed the wrong dimension parts for your particular car.

RockAuto worked great for me so far.
On two occasions I had to return/replace parts: once a U-joint was clearly defective, so they sent a replacement, another time part did not work as good as OEM and they accepted return and paid for return shipping.
I never had “part does not fit” issue with them, as their checks for fit worked just fine.


We just rebuilt the front end on the sons 97 Acura for under $200. from RockAuto.

But the parts came from three different locations, so parts arrived on three different days.

Back-up vehicle!

But all parts installed, and drives thru the snow with the winter tires.


About the only places I buy parts from on line is either Rockauto or actual GM or Acura/Honda dealers. I’ve only had a couple problems with Rock like a leaky water pump and an 8 cyl. plug wire set instead of a 6 cyl. I didn’t bother with the hassle of returns. I would not be inclined to buy no name parts from Ebay or on line sellers unless I knew the parts and the seller.

What kind of vehicle are we talking about?

depending on the vehicle, different websites are the best match for you

I have a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica.

I needed a fan control module for my 2002 Chrysler Town and Country and every local parts store and even the dealers were on back order for them but Rock Auto had one and at a good price for a good brand, Came quickly and worked like new.

Here’s another vote for Rock Auto. Their prices are great, but their shipping is a little slow. As long as you don’t need the parts really quickly, they’re a great resource.

Online is a good source if you can’t find the parts locally, but what’s the advantage of buying bulbs online?

I prefer a local supplier when one is available. I only buy online when I have to.

I love RockAuto for their website and hate it for their shipping costs! The website lists cheap (economy) parts, daily driver parts, professional and performance for some parts. Buy good name brands like AC Delco, Motorcraft, Mopar and buy for price. Cheap parts for a car you won’t have long and more expensive for long-term rides.

AND I use RockAuto to FIND the part number to cross check for prices and shipping from Amazon or WalMart. RA’s shipping for things like brake rotors can be really high. A Prime membership from Amazon can soften that pain - a LOT. WalMart’s direct free ship to the store also saves a lot. Amazon’s and WalMart’s own search engines for car parts is awful.

EBay or AliExpress for car parts is a risk and I would not suggest them. The auto parts stores sites are just fine. They all sell junk parts as well as good parts. Let price and reputation be your guide. Most times they don’t have what I need in stock and it must be ordered anyway so why not online?

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After using Amazon several times in recent months I noticed a $13.90 charge on my back account from Amazon from out of the blue. When I investigated it seems they took it on themselves to decide that I should be a PRIME member. That was irritating enough but getting past the chaff to rattle someones cage was totally maddening. Once I hit the correct button and made my objections known an email was sent to me acknowledging my complaint and offering to refund me the amount if I don’t order anything in the mean time. More and more I feel that there’s an AOL pick pocket waiting out there at every turn when shopping on line. If my bank transactions weren’t so few and boring that $13.90 might have been repeatedly charged for many months until I unknowingly took advantage of it and in doing so become one of Amazon’s Prime SUCKERS.

And as for parts bought on Amazon most were for lawn equipment and the prices have been so cheap and usually correct that I have just tossed the incorrect ones in the scrap heap. I have for the most part avoided E-bay after one purchase that was apparently a total rip off with return shipping being as much as the refund for a part that was barely similar to what was ordered.

I’ll go now before I get started with my current complaints about Xfinity.

THAT’s a subject RIPE with possibilities! :laughing:

I have been buying virtually all parts on-line for my family fleet since 20 years ago since I had to dial them up from my computer. Word travels fast on the internet so bad vendors have disappeared.

I look for brands I recognize, so I buy only from vendors that tell me the brand of every part. You have to pay attention because reputable brands are constantly being purchased by other companies (usually Chinese) and things change.

Lately, Amazon website has gotten more car-friendly and I use it more and more because I am a Prime member and I love the fast free shipping. Makes me nervous that parts are coming from different vendors selling through Amazon, but no problems so far, and if I had problems, Amazon would help to resolve them.

I’ve used OEM parts online from dealers, and parts from Rock Auto, but lately I’ve found buying things online from O’Reilly or AutoZone and picking them up in the store works well and gives me the time to shop around and make my choices. The online price is often less than the price in the store, too.

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I have pre-shopped the local McParts stores and doing so the results were good especially when considering that often the parts counter person seemed tongue tied avoiding saying “would you like fries with that.” Maybe I’ll get a lap top for my shop and make a habit of doing that. I long ago gave up calling ahead to any of the chains to check stock.

I’ve bought some car parts on-line. When I do it’s only through a trusted company. Because I have Amazon Prime, they are my starting spot. I stay away from Ebay. Too many sleazy people/companies there. I

Just a recent issue but you’ve got to be a little careful with Amazon. I ordered a $10 part for my snow blower from my normal source and within a dollar or two from a couple other places. But when it popped up on Amazon it was $47. Yep $47 for a $9 part. Same Toro part number. My normal source is getting a little slow though and seems to have reduced their inventory considerably so everything comes from the manufacturer. I don’t need it till Spring anyway, but Amazon is usually my last resort even with Prime. Yeah I’ve used Amazon for hard to source drinking glasses and spatulas, etc. where Prime shipping makes a difference, but just check the part numbers, actual vendor, etc. first.

same here and it actually combines the strong sides of both approaches

besides, AdvanceAuto regularly advertises coupons for like 20-25-30% off when buying online, making rpice to match or sometimes beat other online retailers