Replacement Auto Parts
When trying to acquire replacement auto parts, you have a few options. For one, you can go to a scrap yard or auto parts dealer and find body parts, headlights, motors, mirrors, and more. There are even dealers out there with low-mileage, solid engines, but you have to be careful and know what you're walking into. The same goes for transmissions – never purchase a used transmission from a dealer that you don't trust. Try to find one low-priced and with a warranty.
When purchasing auto parts, whether it's from a local company or online, go with your gut if you can't find a recommendation by word of mouth. It also is helpful to contact the Better Business Bureau about a specific company you have in mind. There are unlimited numbers of auto parts retailers online, and there aren't any clear frontrunners, although many are considered reputable. The only thing you can do is ask as many questions as possible and judge by the company's response. Beware of companies who don't give you the option of calling or e-mailing them.
But what if you don't know what you are asking for? First of all, avoid the temptation to go directly to your auto manufacturer if the car is more than a few years old. There is an easier and more affordable way to get that part, and it's going through an auto parts dealer. There are some cases where your dealer will be other only source for vehicle parts replacements, especially in the first year or two of your car's life. Because of licensing, companies can't even release the auto parts into the public until a certain amount of time has passed. This trend makes having a good warranty on your vehicle even more essential.
Auto companies commonly charge more for their parts and services because of their company name, but if you do your homework and take an active role in being the consumer, you can actually make your way out of the process having saved a lot of money. In addition, every time a product changes hands, the cost is factories into the overhead; by purchasing directly from the source, you are avoiding lots of extra (hidden) charges. In some cases, there are so many subsidiaries and spin-offs to the original auto part manufacturers, it's nearly impossible to track down the original source. This becomes even more complicated among Asian and domestic vehicles. Keep in mind that aside from the sheet metal parts, your car manufacturer didn't even make the original part you are trying to locate.
Contrary to common misconception, original equipment manufactured (OEM) and original equipment supplied) parts are the same thing. OE generically refers to the original part's brand. Typically manufacturers purchase auto parts from other manufacturers and only produce the sheet metal parts. Bear in mind that car manufactures don't have an exclusive "in" when it comes to car manufacturer parts. You can actually go to a parts dealer who has the same access to these parts, and they could offer you a better price.
"Aftermarket" parts are those released by the manufacturer after the car has been out for a few years. They are created by manufacturers to mirror the original part, and are the officially sanctioned car part for your car from your car's manufacturer. However, these aftermarket parts are often made on the cheap and can cost you more headache and money in the future when they fail to perform. This makes it even more important to purchase car parts from a dealer that you trust. The best way to do this is through word of mouth.