When you’re shopping for auto parts, what matters most are their quality, fit, performance and value. This isn’t so difficult for experienced DIYers. But if you’re a new vehicle owner or a and novice parts buyer, you may even struggle to figure out how to tell if your car battery is dead. You don’t need to be an expert to pick out the right auto parts, but you do need some reliable guidelines. Check out some clear and honest advice before you buy your next set of auto components.
Understand Your Vehicle
The first step in purchasing the right parts is understanding basic details about your vehicle. Keep in mind that this may not be quite as straightforward as you may think, since each make, model and year can have different model sub types. For instance, the 2013 Chrysler 200 comes in six unique sub types: three with a four-cylinder 2.4 liter engine and three with a V6 Flex Fuel 3.6 liter engine.
Subtle differences can occur between model sub types in any system or exterior, so it’s important to have these key specs on hand while you shop. If your online parts retailer has drop-down menus for selecting the year, make, model and engine type, that’s a good sign. You can quickly navigate to the exact components you need.
Know the Difference Between OEM and Aftermarket
No doubt you’ve heard the terms “OEM” and “aftermarket” before. To clarify, OEM stands for “original equipment manufacturer” and refers to parts that are either made in-house by the original automobile maker or produced by authorized partners. Aftermarket components are made by third-party vendors as either economical OEM alternatives or designed to change some aspect of a vehicle’s performance or style. Neither is inherently better than the other, but each offers distinctive benefits.
Some parts blur the line between OEM and aftermarket. Duralast is an aftermarket manufacturer, but it produces direct OEM replacement parts for many vehicles. Performance parts are also available for some vehicles, produced by either aftermarket companies or OEM sources.
Check Part Specifications Carefully
Getting the wrong part is a pain in the neck. Whether it’s shipped to your door, purchased in-store or you use an auto parts in store pickup service, this still adds more time that you’ll have to wait. That’s why it’s vital to check part specifications and measurements before you purchase a replacement. Your vehicle’s owner manual may list these details for each component, but you may be able to find this information online provided you have your vehicle’s make, model and year.
Select a Reputable Dealer
Where you get your parts is just as important as what you buy. A reputable dealer will deliver more than just parts. Great customer service, easy shopping and convenient shipping are all vital parts of your shopping experience. A trusted retailer will usually offer other valuable perks such as next day delivery on auto parts and expert information, tips and guidance to help buyers make smart purchasing decisions.
Knowing your vehicle, understanding part specifications and choosing a trusted dealer are all important when you’re buying parts. These steps require a bit of work, but the results are well worth it.