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Save a Fortune Buying Car Parts on EBay

Dan Morton

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Before the Internet (and eBay), buying most any car part involved going to a retail car parts store down the street or visiting your local junkyard. If you didn't need the part right away, there were catalogs that you could order from (like JC Whitney). Or, if the item that you needed was very unique and hard to find, you could search around, usually by word of mouth or in the back of magazines, to find a specialty supplier who you hoped carried the part you needed. Now, the automotive parts world is just a mouse-click away with literally thousands of vendors, large and small, competing to satisfy your every need.

I've found that eBay can be one of the best resources out there for anything automotive - new and old. I've certainly bought my fair share over the years through this giant of an auction house, and have been very satisfied with the results. I can show you 3 ways to help maximize your buying experience.

  1. Read the description and look at the photos VERY carefully. Many times, the part that you're looking for can be very similar to other parts but these other parts won't fit or are for a different application. If a part number is given in the description, it must match EXACTLY the one you need. If there are no photos, I would be really hesitant to buy. Just because the seller lists the car and the year(s) the part will fit, there is no guarantee he is right. Always ask questions. If the seller doesn't reply or the reply is poor, save your money. Chances are another part will be listed soon or is already listed with another seller.
  2. I always look at the seller's feedback. Look specifically for the number of items sold, the years he has been a member and the number of negatives and neutrals he has. Generally, the more items sold and the longer in business is a good thing. Look at some of the comments under positive and negative feedback. I like to see things like “fast shipping" and “item as described" and “good communication. " Don't hesitate if you see a negative or two - take a look at the comments and see if the complaint was resolved. There will always be problems - what counts is how they are resolved.
  3. Make sure you understand the cost and the way your part will be shipped. Anymore, if a seller doesn't show a fixed price for shipping, you could get stuck for more than you could imagine for shipping. Unless an item is especially large or unusually sized, the shipping should be very easy to calculate and show. If the shipping price is not shown, ask the seller how much the item would cost to ship to your zip code. The USPS offers a flat rate for certain package sizes that I've found to be quite convenient. Don't be afraid to ask if the seller will ship flat rate - as the seller should do most anything possible to make you a happy customer.

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