Buy OEM parts
It is simply not true that OEM parts are always more expensive than aftermarket parts. Remember that cheap parts are usually cheap for a reason, so if an OEM part is more expensive than an aftermarket part, the higher price serves to remove the reasons why the aftermarket part is cheaper.
These days, there is no telling where any given aftermarket part was made, or even who made it. The global parts market is flooded with cheap, substandard garbage that does not conform to any accepted safety and quality standards, which in practical terms, means that you could be endangering the lives of your family by refusing to pay “exorbitant” prices for safety critical parts at the dealer.
Moreover, if an OEM part fails, you know who to talk to about it, which is often not the case with aftermarket parts. The result of this is that you often have no recourse, and you simply have to buy another part at a different auto parts store, hoping it won’t fail again within a few days. Thus, by occasionally paying more for an OEM part, you can save a lot of money, time, and aggravation in the long run.
If you do choose to go with aftermarket parts, despite the risk of receiving substandard auto parts, you can often realize substantial savings by shopping around. However, when you do shop around, you must compare prices for the same brand.
If you don’t know your way around the parts jungle, it is easy to fall prey to unscrupulous dealers who do not have your best interests at heart. Reputable auto part manufacturers will always brand their products, so stick to brands you know and trust: auto parts that come in unbranded white boxes (or in plain plastic bags) may be cheap, but you just don’t know what you are buying.
“Cheap” never translates into “good quality”, which means that by the time you had replaced an aftermarket auto part of uncertain provenance for the third time, you’ve probably spent more money than you would have done had you bought the part from the dealer in the first place.
Buy used auto parts
We are not suggesting that you should always buy used parts, but where used parts do not pose a safety risk, such as trim panels, mirrors, body parts/panels, and the like, you can often save substantial amounts of money. Moreover, by shopping around and comparing prices at a few junk yards, you can often negotiate a price that will make you come back for more.
Buy refurbished parts
Major auto parts like alternators, drive shafts, and transmissions are always expensive when you buy them new, but refurnished parts can be a viable alternative that can save you substantial amounts of money. However, not all refurbished parts are rebuilt to OEM standards, so if you want to take this route, be sure to investigate the company that does the refurbishing.
Remember that no refurbished auto part ever comes with a warranty that matches the warranty of a new part, but the warranty should offer at least two thirds of what a “new” warranty offers. Nonetheless, a warranty means nothing if it is not backed up by a solid history of superior after sales service, so be sure to check out the supplier’s record with regard to after sales service.
Buy auto parts online
A quick online search will turn up a multitude of online parts retailers that carry huge stock inventories, and often at prices that beat those of walk-in stores. In addition, some online retailers’ will deliver the part to your door, or sometimes at a nearby auto part store, which can save you both time and money.
However, you need to check on a few things before you purchase auto parts online, the most important of which is the retailer’s returns policy. Electrical parts are for the most part not returnable, regardless of where you buy it from, but some online retailers will not accept returns of any auto parts if the packaging had been opened.
This can make online purchases problematic if you cannot supply a sample of the part you need, so be sure to check out the terms and conditions set by each online retailer- not doing this could double the cost of the part if the retailer won’t accept a return, and you have to buy the part from a walk-in store anyway.
Use loyalty programs
Almost all auto part stores and chains offer loyalty programs that could save you the full price of a part if you have enough points or benefits to redeem against the price of that part. However, to get the best from any loyalty program you need to make frequent purchases to collect points, which means that if you only buy auto parts occasionally, a loyalty program is likely not the way to go.
Do preventative maintenance
Nobody actually likes spending money on auto parts, but one sure fire way to save on money on parts is to stick to the specified maintenance schedule of your vehicle. This may sound counter-intuitive, but by replacing worn parts when you should, you save money by not having to buy related auto parts that were damaged because you did not replace worn parts in time.
Fixing secondary damage can run to several times the cost of the part or component that should have been replaced, and these additional costs can add up to ridiculous amounts over the life of a car. So, shop smart, don’t replace parts unnecessarily, stick to the maintenance schedule, and you will be amazed at how much money you are saving on auto parts all of a sudden!