Hooniverse Asks- Do You Get Your Car Parts From a Store or From the Web?


Man, I love ordering my car parts online while sitting at home in my bunny slippers and sipping a tasty single malt. Oh sure, instant gratification extends only to a confirmation email, but by planning ahead I have come to love a bunch of online car parts sellers. I do still drop by my local AutoZone, O’Reilly, or Pep Boys when I need something PDQ – like a tail light bulb – but for the most part, my automotive part needs have been matched by my laziness needs.

Of course some people don’t like online parts ordering shenanigans, preferring instead to be able to plop the old part down on the counter of a trusted local and knowledgable parts purveyor and do an eyeball comparison of its replacement. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through a project only to discover that the part you’ve been shipped is for a 2005 911 and not a ’91 205. It could happen.

What about you, what is your primary resource for car parts? Do you have a homie in the neighborhood who can hook you up when you need a fix? Are you comfortable ordering your parts off of the World Wide Web from your next generation tablet and saving all your orders in the Cloud? Or, do you like a little bit from column A and a tad from column B? Where do you predominantly get your parts, a store or online?

Image source: AutoblogGreen, MurphyGold

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61 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Do You Get Your Car Parts From a Store or From the Web?”

  1. Vavon Avatar

    When this is not the solution, I will shop online…
    <img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3466/3886636133_e3c40430e0_z.jpg"&gt;

    1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      personal stash?

      1. Vavon Avatar

        Hahaha!!! Neither the space nor the money! I don't even have a 205 anymore…

        1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
          ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

          No 205!? So what is it now you drive?

          1. Vavon Avatar

            A 2003 Pug 106.

  2. JayP2112 Avatar

    Since getting hooked to the Autozone rewards card, I buy online.
    Usually 20% off with free shipping to the house. Any other parts I need I can cruise to the brick-mortar AZ and be back in 15 minutes.
    Parts from CL- I usually talk them down on the price when I meet them in person, then I spend the next two hours ratchet-jawing about cars.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      You do know you can order online, get the 20% off and then just pick it up in the store too right? I know Advance works that way.

      1. JayP2112 Avatar

        I asked the store about getting the 20% and store pickup and the salesguy said that wasn't available for AZ.
        Next time I'll read the fine print and see what's the deal.

  3. robbydegraff Avatar

    ususally I'll buy parts from RockAuto, but for detail supplies and tools, as well as minor parts (bulbs etc) or motorcycle parts=Autozone


    For regular maintenance parts, I do a mix of both, usually depending on how soon I need the part. If it can wait a few days, I can almost always find it cheaper online. But if I need it now, it's not like the local auto parts store is breaking the bank, so I'm willing to pay a bit more to go to the store that's less than half a mile from my house and get it right then.
    Aftermarket parts I always buy online, it's always cheaper. Same with tires. And since bought my Jag, I almost always have to use online sources for most parts, because living in the mid-midwest, I go to most places and ask for a part for a Jaguar XJR and they say "a what now?".

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    Mostly online (far-flung new car dealers that have an online presence, and a good discount), but if I have an immediate need, the local dealer, or independent parts store. Occasionally RockAuto. AutoZone? Only for a can of carb cleaner, fluids, bulbs, fuses, etc.

  6. LTDScott Avatar

    Since I work for an internet based auto parts retailer (shameless plug: http://www.buyautoparts.com ), the answer is both 🙂

    1. vwminispeedster Avatar

      Do you have a replacement bubble for an E30 Homer Car?

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Dude, you wouldn't believe how hard it was to get that thing. We spent more on it that I would have liked, but thankfully the payoff is worth it.

  7. lilwillie Avatar

    I order on the web so the local stores can deliver it. Or a combination of the two since too many times they screw something up. So the process usually goes like this.
    VIN, look up VIN, Find choices for the vehicle since most times the VIN is useless in IDing brake systems and such. Go back out and find body code for system. Narrow down which system it is. Find part. Do this whole process on two other parts systems on the web. Now see who has it in stock, how soon they could get it and who is priced accordingly (cheapest doesn't win all the time).
    No hit Submit on the choice I make. Make a notation on when I'd prefer it delivered. Instead of hitting submit I may call and have them verify what I just looked up since the online source can be wrong, on too many occasions. Then when we are both on the same page and same part number tell them to deliver it. Or I may drive and get it and compare the old part to the new. Or when they deliver it compare the parts while the driver is there to make sure it is actually correct and the dyslexic part number goblin didn't do his work. Many times I or the guys picking parts will accidentally swap a number in the sequence. It happens when you are looking at numbers all day long.
    Then when we are all happy we have the right part in hand we finally go to putting it on. This is the whole reason so many shops have Shop Managers, Front counter people, Parts people and techs because imagine doing all this yourself, you maybe will bill out 4-5 hours in a 8 hour day. At least that is the way it goes for me. Even as I type this I am on hold waiting for a counter person.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Having worked for Genuine Parts/NAPA corporate in the past I can tell you at least 50% of the time, when you get the wrong part it is because somebody at the rebuild factory put the wrong part in the wrong box. Things might have improved in the 15 years since I worked there though.

      1. lilwillie Avatar

        I wish they have. I don't often get the wrong part in the box. Most times it is the counter guy messing up at some point in the transaction. I'd say we are running about a 10% fuck up rate right now. %90 of the time they get it right but even with all the checks and balances I do they still have a 10% screw up rate.

  8. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    I buy a lot of the parts I get from Amazon.
    I know I've raved about Prime on here before, but it's pretty cool having 4 mud tires dropped off on your porch with free second day shipping.
    If I need it now, I go to the Zone. If I can wait to tomorrow, I click.

    1. Baron Von Danger Avatar
      Baron Von Danger

      The combination of Prime and being an employee of Amazon is making my wallet much lighter.

  9. erikgrad Avatar

    I just rebuilt the A/C (every component except the hoses and evaporator) on my wife's car by ordering parts completely online, from Rock Auto, PartsGeek, eBay, etc., and then saved a $200 by buying a new throttle body for my car on eBay. This spring and summer has been expensive and time consuming for our cars.
    Each A/C part was from a different source, I went with lowest price on everything to save money, since it is a Toyota Echo with 170,000 miles on it.
    Particularly on eBay, you have to be extremely careful, so many parts are incorrectly listed as fitting your model when they do not. I still go to Autozone for brakes, batteries, oil, tie rods, and the like. For the big markup/dealer parts, online is the way to go.

  10. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

    In the past I've mostly been an all-store person, because I got a discount for working at a parts chain. But more recently (no longer working for parts chain) it's mostly been salvage yard picking and web. I did get a pretty nice sized gift certificate from the Boyz Pep after that huge bill for the head gasket. So I've been trying to use that as much as possible for just the past few weeks.
    Incidentally, how little sense does it make that they show a picture of an NGK wire set in their catalog but have no way of looking them up? I mean really?

  11. P161911 Avatar

    I have learned to jump online compare prices and see who has the best special going. Both Autozone and Advance both let you order online and pick up in store and let you use the 15-25% off online discount. Other times it is Pull-apart or ebay or maybe Rockauto.

  12. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Depends on price, but tend to search online.
    Once I needed sparkplugs (NGK Iridium) for my Blackbird, at the deales they were the absurd 120,00 U$ each, online Brazil still absurd 70,00 U$ each, online USA 11,50 U$ each + 10,00 U$ shipping cost 4 units. That´s a huge diference for same product.

  13. MrHowser Avatar

    If I need it today, there is a Napa locally that I really like to use. If it can wait, I like Amazon.

  14. Alff Avatar


  15. TurboBrick Avatar

    I do most of my buying online. I definitely go through the box stores inventories online before going to the store. I get my Volvo stuff online from FCP, Eeuro or IPD, and Mazda stuff comes from Rockauto. 12mm fuel hose from International Auto Parts (Flennor brand, yes it does exist).
    Locally I do split my purchases between O'Reilly, Advance, NAPA and Autozone, in that order of preference. Oreilly is closest to me and open late, Advance is very competitively priced if you go with their coupon scam, NAPA is run by old geezers that I trust the most and everything is available next day (though more expensive) and Autozone… was the only one who had a Mazda water pump in stock.

  16. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    <img src="http://images.oreillyauto.com/parts/img/large/bwd/s10027_1.jpg&quot; width=335>
    Dealership: ~$200
    O'Reilly's: $89.99 and special order
    Amazon.com: $37.73 + free shipping
    That said, I go to the junkyard first, then Autozone, O'Reilly's and Napa in that order.
    For weird, hard-to-find, or absurdly expensive stuff, straight to the 'Net.

  17. SSurfer321 Avatar

    My Subaru hates me so it goes straight to the dealership.
    My F150 I can source most everything at a local brick and mortar. Performance parts are ordered online as I haven't found a reputable 4×4 shop in Lexington.

  18. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    I used to be a hard-core Rock Auto guy, for a decade, then they boned me, badly, with a set of LCA's which, while advertised to fit my 1995 W124 sedan, did not. Did. Not. Fit.
    Turns out, 1994 & 95 had a change for larger brake rotors. However, after three months of going around and around with them about how they were wrong, sending them back to the supplier, who insisted, incorrectly, they did fit, said supplier said they were scratched (!!!!) and sent them back to me with -0- warning.
    No. This is how you lose a customer.
    Reminds me, I need to sell those…haven't had the car in over six months. They fit 1986-1993 just fine, but, yeah, that's not what I had.
    Amazon, however, has been my new go-to, unless I need to see/touch it first, then it's the NAPA place about five miles from the house.
    Amazon Prime is hazardous to your cashflow. You have been warned.
    (but it's AWESOME!)

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      I love R/A, but got a lot of wrong parts from them for the Uberbird (another transition-year German car).

      1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
        C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        If only they'd accommodated my 100% valid return, I'd have been fine with it, but their argument was, "the supplier says it fits, they have more resources than you do, they (claim to) never have had a return, they're right – you're wrong."

    2. JayP2112 Avatar

      My local AZ gave me the wrong set of disks where the database was wrong. I didn't know they were an inch too small until I had already greased and installed one side with new bearings. Going up the database, the 2005 was the right size.
      They took them back without any guff- lubed up and all.

  19. CherokeeOwner Avatar

    Right now, just stores. Sears for shocks, Napa for headlights and lugnuts, and a local store called Big R for oil and other things, though that's mostly for my father's tractor.

  20. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    That reminds me, I need to order that speedo cable.
    For run-of-the-mill replacement parts I cross-shop Rockauto, Autozone and O'Reillys (RIP Kragen) online, as the later two are a mile from my house.
    For vehicle-specific parts I got to Falconparts.com, taperformance.com (buick V8), bjsoffroad.com (wagoneer) and teamgrandwagoneer.com. Provided they're not like double-price, I'll buy replacement parts from the small specialist guys over the chains in an effort to support them. These are the types of places we all want to stay in business as they make owning a classic so much easier.
    For upgrades, it's Jegs Vs Summit Vs smaller guys like opentrackerracingproducts.com.

    1. scoudude Avatar

      Yup you need to support the specialist supplier or they won't be around for long. I is also a good idea to support your independently owned auto parts store instead of the big box stores with their lowest bidder parts and people behind the counter that can't use a paper catalog. The incompetence of the people programing the computers at those stores will make parts that there are demand for go away when they don't sell them because they didn't put them in their computer system properly or the person behind the counter can't figure out where in the system to find them. So yeah support your local NAPA, Carquest or Parts Plus because " These are the types of places we all want to stay in business as they make owning a classic so much easier." Fact is that IF you make friends with the owners or counter people you will get lower prices than at the box stores for quality parts. Every single one has a button they can push that will give you the "preferred cash customer" or piggy back your order on a high volume cash customer for a discount that can be significant, on some parts as high as 20 or 30%.

    2. Alff Avatar

      I like the Alfa guys. I NEED the Alfa guys, as they have a lot of stuff the others don't. But when I have a choice, I don't buy from the Alfa guys because they're so darn expensive.

  21. Sjalabais Avatar

    Mostly stores because I have done stupid mistakes when ordering online. Price difference is often not much in my neck of the woods.

  22. vwminispeedster Avatar

    World Famous Lee Auto Supply is now part of NAPA. As long as they still have old guys behind the counter with limited computer knowledge the old cars are safe. They just know where stuff is in their store and if it will work. Relying on the computer makes the young kids dumb. With the exception of the young woman at the Oreillys in BFE outside of Buttonwillow. She knew her shit inside and out. The only place I'll go when our LeMons car dies (again) at Buttonwillow.

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      Lee Auto Supply is AWESOME. Particularly for a knows-enough-to-be-dangerous (to himself) amateur mechanic such as myself. I wasn't sure what kind of RTV I needed for changing fluid in my pumpkins (I was taking off the covers so I could inspect and get all the old fluid out), and the gentleman helping me knew off the top of his head which axles I likely had in my Jeep.
      Computers are perfect idiots. If you don't realize that when you use a computer, the computer will make you a perfect idiot.
      That said, I tend to do a mix of store and online for most of my needs. Sometimes NAPA doesn't have a part (like a new taillight for my wife's Civic), and I'll often go to RockAuto for that. I've gotten a few things off of Amazon.com, but even though I've got a prime account, I don't use them for auto parts very often. I only buy off of Amazon if I'm really sure what I'm looking at is the right thing. OTOH, they've been great for tools (like a 17mm Allen key for my transmission bungs). For upgrade/aftermarket stuff, I'll admit to being a SummitRacing guy.
      That said, I do tend to check NAPA to see if I can get the part from Lee Auto Supply first. I want those guys to stay in business. Which reminds me, I need to run down to Alameda to get some oil for the Jeep. Also, new exhaust hangers.

  23. I_Borgward Avatar

    Online or brick-n-mortar? I do both pretty regularly and the results are often a mixed bag.
    I'll start by saying that nothing beats a well-stocked local parts store with a crackerjack counter person who knows cars and their catalogs. While I'm a pretty decent mechanic, I'm a tourist when it comes to knowing what's currently available in the world of parts and how to access them, so a good counter person is worth their weight in gold. Any shop that can keep such talent around will get my business, even if I pay a few more bucks in the end.
    Of course, these days you are more likely to encounter store clerks who can only find things if a computer terminal points them in the right direction, especially if you're dealing with one of the mega-chain stores like Pep Boys or O'Reilly. You're usually on your own and might just as well ask a random teenager out on the street if you need to dig a little deeper or get sound advice. Very frustrating!
    Which leads me to online parts shopping, where one is often confronted with poorly cataloged and atrociously organized sites. If you do manage to find what you need, you then get to wait several days or pay a premium for next-day shipping, a not insignifcant time-suck. Another common problem: parts that are listed on the site but not actually available… aaaaarrrrrgh! But, if you know exactly what you want and don't mind waiting, online can work out. I've had excellent experiences with Summit and IPD.
    That all said, one thing that really tilts things in favor of a parts store is the ability to inspect parts and exchange defective ones on the spot. Bitter experience has shown me I can count on at least a 10% defect rate with new parts. The only thing more aggravating is the hassle of shipping the damn things back, not to mention having your job shut down.

  24. Batshitbox Avatar

    GMC = Local store
    Scout = Online to find, phone call to order
    Laverda = Phone call

  25. Froggmann_ Avatar

    A fair combination of Jyards, brick and mortar (Autozone & Orileys) and online (Amazon & Rock Auto).

  26. failboat Avatar

    Depends on how urgently I need the part. Generally Rockauto or craigslist if it is not urgent. Occasionally Amazon. Tire Rack or Discount Tire for DD tires, or craigslist or a used tire shop if its for the trucks.
    I find that most pick and pull places all operate during hours that are in direct conflict with my work schedule so I hardly bother.

  27. wisc47 Avatar

    There are a variety of sites that specialize in Fiat Spiders: international-auto.com, spider-point.com, allisonautomotive.com, etc, etc, etc, all carrying a variety of custom and OEM performance and restoration parts. I wouldn't see as much of the point of going to the local Autozone.

  28. MVEilenstein Avatar

    I have used online retailers before, but I still like the satisfaction of walking in the door at O'Reilly's, talking to a professional (usually), and walking out with the part I need.

  29. mdharrell Avatar

    This is one of those hypothetical questions, isn't it?

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      I thought you said the other day the answer was eBay and other online auctions: http://atomictoasters.com/2013/06/user-input-buyi

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Wait, some people read both websites? Now I've got to be all consistent and stuff….

        1. jeepjeff Avatar

          Woah, woah, woah, let's not go crazy here. I think this was my faux pas, actually. I won't cross-link again. My apologies.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            No, that's okay. I can worm my way out of this one, actually, because in the example you cited I first bought the car itself on eBay, not parts, and later bought the parts car from a real, live auction using a bid placed remotely by email, thereby using the Internet but not the Web. (No, it was not Web-based email.)
            At least that works for the question as it's phrased in the title. I'm going with that.

          2. Vairship Avatar

            Don't you just carve your car parts out of stone?

  30. scoudude Avatar

    It depends on the part and what you consider ordering on-line. I do use the reserve online function sometimes for NAPA stuff and I do use the IH light line dealers when I need a NOS or reproduction part and I'm not able to pick it up from them at the local show because of the time of year.
    I'll only use O'really, or Autozoo for emergency things, their made in China lowest bidder parts just don't last and the charge more for the quality parts that they have to order than my local Napa or Carquest. First time we tried O'really after the change over from Schmuck's was complete I thought they were handing me an empty box when I asked for a distributor cap, the cheap plastic and aluminum was that thin on their house brand. I was quite disappointed since the Schucks house brand was Neihoff the quality installer line from BWD and the best value in ign parts.
    I won't use Crockauto, their catalog system is the worst, the one time I tried them after hearing so many people raving about them every single part that they actually shipped was wrong and there were a couple of items that they said they didn't have and couldn't get despite allowing me to click on them and order them.
    If you have anything older please, please, please patronize your local independently owned and operated parts store. Otherwise the big box stores and places like Crockauto will make the parts you need go away by not showing them in the computer, or showing the wrong ones. That will make the mfgs discontinue them when those big accounts suddenly stop selling them because they don't list them in the computer or list them incorrectly.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      "please patronize your local independently owned and operated parts store"
      No such thing where I live.
      In the last 10 years, the only indies near me were open like 10-5 M-F and 8-11:30 on Saturday, and didn't stock whatever I needed. Just like building supply places, there's a minimum threshold of convenience required to get my business.
      These days, my "parts counter guy" is an automotive forum for the car in question, followed by an online supplier that sells the exact part.

      1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        I really miss Paul's Clutch.

  31. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    My car parts are procured by the local mechanic who installs them: I don't work on cars.
    On my bike, there's rarely anything I need available locally. Well, except…
    Most Bultacos came with 25x45x15 ball bearings in the steering head, and there is not a standard tapered roller equivalent that matches those dimensions. So, I ordered special Bultaco tapered roller bearings made by Pyramid Parts in New Zealand (although mine actually came to me by way of a UK distributor).
    When they arrived, I realized that the OD was way too small. I'd made a really dumb mistake: my frame is a late Pursang motocrosser, which came with tapered rollers stock. The top and bottom bearings are both 25x52x16.5 — standard 30205 bearings, the same ones used in a zillion small trailers for wheel bearings. I could (and did) buy them at my local Advance Auto Parts for $14.29 a piece.

  32. desolit Avatar

    a mix of both. i used to shop almost exclusively online for parts but now i moonlight at Autozone so the 20% discount is hard to beat.

  33. buzzboy7 Avatar

    For ~19 years my next door neighbor was a Napa. They saw a lot of my business.

  34. HTWHLS Avatar

    Both, but lately more online. You ever been to parts store lately? The kids there have never heard of a Hollander Interchange. The computer rarely lists meaningful dimensions (mostly box sizes so they can stock them) and I haven't seen a graybeard in an AutoZone, O'Reillys, Advance, Pep Boys, etc.
    When I lived up north, NAPA got most of my business as they did machine work, and if you could stand the attitude, the guys would answer damn near any question and turn the place inside out to find a part that would work for you. Now, got to AutoZone and they are trying to sell me on keychains and handwipes. It is what it is.
    Owning a Corvair means mostly web (Clark's or Corvair Underground) and Craigslist. +1 for Corvair Underground: you can actually call out there and get Lon on the phone and he'll even explain how to fix stuff.

  35. Battles Avatar

    Parts store, the cost saving of buying online is usually soaked up if you end up ordering the wrong part because your car was built close to a switch to some model changes so there are three different, completely incompatible sets of brake pads.
    I decided about an hour ago that I was going to do the brakes on my W124 tomorrow morning. I called the local motor factor, confirmed that they have all three options in stock, confirmed that they're cool with me bringing the old pads and discs in for comparison and confirmed they're open all day on Saturday. I'll be rolling on new parts by lunchtime.
    In your face, internet!

  36. bhtooefr Avatar

    I tend to use specialist online stores.
    The local stores sell a ton of Chinesium if they even have it (although, when it's a "must get the car running NOW" thing, Chinesium is sometimes better than nothing), and the nearest VW dealer is far away and they usually have to order it in anyway.

  37. options binaires avis Avatar

    Heya! I realize this is kind of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does building a well-established website like
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