By Steve Woodfield
With more and more aging cars on the road and an ever-growing population of auto repair Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers), millions of consumers have turned to the Internet to buy auto parts online to keep their vehicles running efficiently and safely. But exactly which parts make the most sense to buy on the Web and what should the average consumer take into consideration when purchasing online? Buying a transmission or engine online is probably best left to the expert DIYer or professional mechanic, but there are certain auto parts that are easy to install or difficult to find at a local auto parts store, making them good online purchase choices for the average consumer. Buying these parts online may also help save money and time.
The experts at AutoPartsWarehouse.com, one of the nation’s top online auto parts and accessories retail websites, today outlined the Top Five Auto Parts that make the most sense for average consumers to buy online—these top five parts are also among the most popular with their customers. What’s more, they outlined the top five things the average consumer should take into consideration when deciding whether or not to buy a part online.
Top Five Auto Parts You Should Buy Online
1) Mirrors Side mirrors are often damaged in minor collisions with objects or other vehicles, yet they’re usually easy to repair, which makes them excellent candidates for online purchasing. There is a huge selection—including quality aftermarket and OE-equivalent (what the dealer would sell)—readily available online. Upgradable mirrors that enhance the appearance of your car or improve driving performance and safety, such as turn signal modules or towing mirrors, are also easy to get online — often at a significant discount compared to what dealers charge.
2) Lights Also easily damaged and easy to install, lights are another advantageous online purchase, with a wide selection of make and model specific replacement taillights, fog lights, corner lights, turn signal lights and backup lights to keep you driving safely (and legally). For burned-out bulbs, expedited shipping can ensure you receive the components you need—quickly and conveniently—so you can get your lights working properly again.
3) Cabin Filters Most manufacturers recommend replacing your car’s cabin filter(s) every 50,000 miles to keep pollen, dust and allergens out of your heating and air conditioning systems. And installation is incredibly easy, making cabin filters another great online purchase choice. The huge selection available online means you will have no trouble finding the right filter for your vehicle.
4) Oxygen Sensor A new oxygen sensor can improve the performance of your car by ensuring the most efficient mixture of air and fuel and improving MPG. If you have a persistent Check Engine light, a new oxygen sensor might just solve your problem. Oxygen sensors are small and expensive, which make them the perfect item to purchase online where you can realize significant savings. Installation should only take about 30 minutes, but is best handled by a professional mechanic or by the more sophisticated DIYer. Instructions on how to replace this part are available online.
5) Floor Mats and Liners Floor mats and liners are an excellent online purchase choice. They are not emergency items and don’t need to be professionally installed, plus there is an almost limitless range of choices in different colors and materials—even personally customized mats—easily available online. It would be hard to replicate the range of choices—and comprehensive ability to comparison price shop—at your local auto parts store.
So what do the experts at AutoPartsWarehouse.com say the average consumer should take into account when considering whether or not to buy an auto part online? Interestingly enough, saving money was just one of a number of benefits they highlighted.
Top Five Features When Considering Which Parts to Buy Online
1) Simplicity Auto parts that are typically easy to install and tend to wear out faster, or get damaged more often than others (such as mirrors, lights, etc.), are good candidates for online purchasing. These parts do not require a complicated diagnosis…when your mirror is broken or the window regulator doesn’t work, you know it and you know what needs to be replaced. Buying them online and replacing them yourself, or taking them to a mechanic for installation, is a simple option.
2) Availability Most auto parts stores do not carry in stock a wide range of make and model specific parts, but most of these parts are available online and ready to ship. So if the part you need is make and model specific (versus a universal part), chances are it is far more immediately available online, saving the headache of a round of trips/phone calls to auto parts stores.
3) Convenience If a part is not an ’emergency’ part requiring that you rush out to the auto parts store or to the mechanic to have it installed immediately (i.e. one that your car won’t run without), then it’s probably a good candidate for online purchasing. After all, it is much more convenient to order the part online and have it delivered directly to your home than to have to rush out to an auto parts store (or several if you have trouble finding the part) to purchase.
4) Significant Cost Savings Odds are that you can realize significant savings buying almost any auto part online—sometimes by as much as 70 percent, especially if buying an off-brand part. Going online gives you the ability to assess pricing and comparison shop, another way to determine if the cost savings on an online purchase makes it the best option. When it comes to parts that are easy to moderately difficult to install, you can find plenty of manufacturer-grade replacement parts at substantially lower prices than those sold by dealers, as well as higher grade, quality aftermarket parts to help you enhance the appearance of your car at discount prices.
5) Flexibility Parts your repair shop agrees to install that have been purchased by you make great candidates for online shopping too. More and more repair shops are willing to install parts that the customer has already purchased, which can save a great deal of money in vehicle repairs/maintenance/service each year. Be sure to check with your repair shop before purchasing.
“Consumers are turning to the Internet to buy auto parts more than ever before, with this rapidly growing online retail industry representing a staggering $3.5 billion in annual sales,” said Shane Evangelist, CEO of U.S. Auto Parts Network, Inc., the operator of AutoPartsWarehouse.com. “The Internet offers simplicity, convenience, flexibility and affordability for people who need auto parts—whether or not they’re DIYers.”