Tips for Finding Auto Parts

Common Terms You Should Know

  • OE / OEMAn Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part will replace the original part that came on the vehicle with an exact replica. These parts are generally sold by dealerships only.

  • Aftermarket Aftermarket auto parts are made to the same specifications as OEM parts, but most likely manufactured by a different company than the original.

  • Remanufactured An auto part that is restored / rebuilt to original specifications.

  • Core Charge A core charge is an additional fee applied when you purchase an auto part. The core charge is reimbursed when the old and worn out part is returned to the store. This is very common on brake calipers, car batteries, alternators, and starters because the old parts can be recycled and rebuilt into remanufactured parts.

  • New Part New parts are unused with zero miles. Warranties will vary depending on the seller and type of part.

  • Used PartUsed parts have been used for some time and length on another vehicle. Cars in salvage yards often have hundreds of cars with functional parts still on them. These parts are sold at a discount compared to new auto parts. They often come with a shorter warranty than a new part would, though it depends on the seller and the kind of part.

  • Interchange Part NumbersInterchange Part Numbers are numbers that can identify similar products under different brands. For example, say a wheel bearing is OEM part #5555, which relates to interchange part #12345. The TRQ wheel bearing part #7777 also relates to interchange part #12345. This means that OEM part #5555 is likely the same part as TRQ part #7777, but just a different brand. You should use these interchange part numbers while searching to cast a wider net for parts, especially if you are having difficulty.

  • VIN NumberVehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a set of 17 characters, located on the driver's side front where the dashboard meets the bottom of the windshield. It can also be typically found on a sticker located on the driver's side doorframe. It will have a combination of numbers and letters. The letters I, O, and Q are always absent from VINs.

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Search Auto Parts Online With Your Vehicle Information

 Searching for auto parts online by vehicle will likely provide new, used, remanufactured, OEM, and aftermarket auto parts in the search results. For the best search results, find your vehicle type below.

Common Vehicles (built in the past 30 years by a major car manufacturer):

  • Search by Year + Make + Model + Auto Part Name 

 

Old / Obscure Vehicles (over 30-years-old, low production, small auto manufacturer)

  • Find a website that sells parts for your vehicle and call, asking for guidance.

  • Join a car club, forum, or Facebook group for that specific vehicle and ask for guidance on finding parts. 

How to Find and Search Online for New and Used Parts

Used Parts

To find used parts, search http://www.car-part.com. This website will search salvage yards across the United States for used parts.

Local salvage yards are unlikely to list unique, smaller, and less expensive items—like a window switch or wiring harness. If you don't see what you need on that website, call a local salvage yard that has your vehicle and see if they have what you are looking for. Buying and picking up the part in person will also help you save money on shipping. If you need to, most salvage yards will ship the parts to you.

Be sure to check the part’s warranty, as it is usually 30-60 days from the purchase date. This means you should install it as soon as possible to confirm that it’s functioning properly.

New Parts

OEM Parts from Dealerships

Call a local dealership parts department and get a quote for the part you need.

 

Below are some tips that can help:

  • Always have your vehicle’s VIN ready when calling the dealership. They prefer to look up parts that way. Some parts departments may even tell you they cannot lookup parts without a VIN.

  • Most dealership parts departments will ship parts. Asking politely helps!

  • Ask the dealership for the part number. They will give you the OEM part number. If you don’t purchase a part from them, you can use this number for online searches (see below).

Aftermarket Auto Parts

The majority of aftermarket auto parts are found in every auto part brick-and-mortar store and online.

  • Call around these stores in your local area and see what they have in stock. Be sure you know your Year + Make + Model + Engine + Drivetrain type, as they likely will ask for it.

  • If you have a local family-owned auto part store nearby, support them with your business. They are often extra helpful and creative in their methods of finding auto parts that repair shops need, and will likely do the same for you! Small-town auto parts stores also work with other local businesses that can do unique small jobs for you, like pressing bearings together, relining brake shoes, and machining flywheels. 

  • More auto parts are sold on eBay than anything else. You can take advantage of this online marketplace and search http://www.eBay.com

 

Part Number Searches

You can also search by the OEM, aftermarket, or interchange part number

  • Determine the OEM part number and search for it online. Doing this will likely give OEM-only results. Many OEM auto part sellers will set prices within a few dollars of each other.

  • Find an aftermarket equivalent part number and/or an interchange part number, like TRQ, Dorman, Partslink, Moog, Hollander, etc. Using these in online searches will likely result in a variety of brands that have different prices and quality.

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