Maintaining your own car is an effective way to minimise ownership costs, if you're in a position to do the work yourself, but finding affordable parts can occasionally be difficult and time-consuming.
Fortunately, there are several ways to cut down on parts-finding hassle, which will also allow you to quickly find the best price for a new car part.
Even if you’re still getting a garage to carry out the work, you should consider these points – because, if the garage is happy to fit customer-supplied parts, you might be able to source what’s required for less.
Some of you may already be well versed in such methods, but if you're new to car ownership or seeking some pointers then these five tips could help you quickly find and establish the cheapest price for suitable new parts – which, in turn, will make servicing and repairing your car less tiresome and expensive.
The quickest and easiest way to get an idea of what you should be paying for a part is to search for it online.
Where you look will vary with the car you need components for; if you have a comparatively modern car, sites such as Euro Car Parts, GSF Car Parts, Mister-Auto and Mick’s Garage are all good starting points.
It’s worth looking at eBay and Amazon, too, and don’t discount manufacturer-operated parts sites either.
You should, if you have the time, also give your local dealer a call and see what they quote. Sometimes, the price can be lower than what you might expect.
Finding the least expensive classic car parts often takes a little more research and time but, again, online outlets and specialists should help you quickly ascertain what the going rate is for a part.
You can very quickly generate a wide array of parts options and costs if you are looking around online.
What’s worth bearing in mind, though, is what you intend to do with the part and what its application is.
If you’re just looking for a set of front discs and pads for your inexpensive around-town runabout, for example, you could consider less costly parts from decent aftermarket suppliers, instead of genuine and more expensive alternatives.
Owners of more upmarket or higher-performance cars, however, may prefer to stick with genuine or costlier components that will perform as expected and help maintain the reliability, durability and value of the vehicle.
There is a balance to be struck, though; even if you have a car you’re treating as fairly disposable, it’s still worth investing in parts that aren’t the cheapest around to minimise the chance of problems or failure.
Sites such as Euro Car Parts are renowned for offering substantial discounts regularly, which can cut a significant amount off your overall bill.
Consequently, as is the case elsewhere, it’s worth looking around to see if there are any discount codes or promotions on offer.
What’s also worth keeping an eye on is the other outlets or brands operated by the same company. Euro Car Parts, as a case in point, operates an online-only brand called CarParts4Less – and, sometimes, the parts offered there can be cheaper.
Euro Car Parts also has an eBay outlet which, again, can occasionally prove cheaper than the main website. In any case, make sure to tot up the numbers and, if you can spare the time, perhaps give them a bell to see if the online price can be bettered further.
If you have the actual part you want to replace to hand and can identify its part number, or have looked up what its part number is elsewhere, you may be able to rapidly locate a cheaper replacement.
Many parts are shared between cars, after all, but some often carry a premium in line with the car they’re earmarked for – so searching by part number may uncover a compatible, if not identical, and less expensive alternative.
Using the part number to search for replacement components will also quickly turn up a variety of outlets, including some you may have not spotted, further allowing you to rapidly find the least expensive option.
This trick can prove particularly useful when you’re looking for parts for older cars, which may have been superseded or aren’t available from many of the regular outlets. You might even find parts overseas that, once you’ve factored in shipping and customs, can prove cheaper than components sourced in the UK.
It’s always worth visiting your local automotive parts store to see what they can offer in terms of parts and pricing.
Sure, they might not be able to outright compete with the value offered by many an online retailer, but there’s a lot to be said for supporting smaller businesses. And, if the motor factors has what you need in stock, you’ll be able to pick it up there and then.
You might also find other useful parts, tools and odds and sods when you pop into one of your local auto stores – and the staff may be able to serve up helpful advice and suggestions, easing whatever particular automotive conundrum you’re dealing with at the time.
At the very least, it’s worth dropping in; if what you want transpires to be far too expensive, compared to other outlets, or unavailable, you can then resort to online ordering and go from there.
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