With a bewildering range of automotive parts and components for sale on Amazon and eBay, I thought I’d take the time to share the pitfalls of buying such parts online rather than visiting a ‘traditional’ car parts store.
Such stores will employ ‘parts advisors’ – employed for their wealth of knowledge of car parts, and well-trained in the use of electronic catalogues and parts lookups, in order to ensure that you walk away with the correct part for your vehicle.
Sadly, this does not always translate into an effective method of buying car parts online. Yes, you can select your vehicle details, or even in the case of Amazon now, enter your vehicle registration. But the simple matter is that it’s not as easy as it looks!
Amazon and eBay will never truly replace the motor factors electronic parts catalogue, because their databases do not always contain the same levels of detail. Yes, they may say ‘yes this part fits’ your vehicle, but what they can’t say with any certainty is that ‘yes, it will definitely fit’. For many vehicles, and many types of parts, depending on what is installed at the factory, there may be options or choices.
For example, you need a set of front brake pads for a Peugeot 206. You’ve found some on eBay, entered your vehicle details into the compatibility checker, and eBay says ‘This part fits’. What you don’t know, and what is not always made clear, is that there could be two types of brake pad fitted, depending on the brake calipers installed, or whether the discs are solid or vented, or even what size of disc is on there.
The other pitfall for the customer is do they even know their exact vehicle details? eBay’s compatibility checker relies on you, the customer, to know your exact vehicle details, before you can even make an informed choice.
On eBay, it is up to the seller to ensure the compatibility information is accurate, and we do this by working with our suppliers, who provide the relevant information for us to add to our listings. Always check the ‘important part details’ column next to your selected vehicle details, and also do check the item description for information.
On Amazon, well that’s a whole new kettle of fish. The creator of the Amazon listing is responsible for vehicle compatibility information, but this is very basic from our experience, and if there are any errors, then other sellers of that item bear the brunt of the buyers anger when things go wrong!
How to get the right parts for your car
The best way to ensure the part you want to buy will be correct for your vehicle, is to contact us prior to purchase, with your UK vehicle registration. If your vehicle doesn’t have a UK registration, please provide as much information as you can. Then we can use our electronic parts catalogue to identify if the part will be correct, and if not we can usually advise on the correct one.
Many of our parts suppliers have their own web-based parts catalogues available, so feel free to use those also to help make an informed choice, I will provide some links further down.
Finally, we try to provide as many OE and aftermarket cross-references as we can to our listings, as I know that many people do have access to OE lookups, forums and the like, where people will share such references where available. And of course, if you physically have an old part in front of you, you can usually get a part number or reference from that.
Below you’ll find some links to our suppliers web catalogues that we use across our eBay stores:
- Ajusa (engine gaskets and seals)
- Blue Print (components for Japanese and American vehicles)
- Cambiare (Ignition & Engine Management)
- LPR Friction
- LPR Hydraulics
- UFI (Filters)
- Reisse (Filters)
- Nissens (Climate & Cooling)
- FEBI (registration required)
- SMPE (Intermotor, Fuel Parts, Lemark, High Volt, Kerr Nelson etc)
- Vierol (Vaico, Vemo)
- Electric Life (window regulators)
- Comma Oils (oils and lubricants)
- First Line, Borg & Beck, Keyparts
- Bosch Auto Parts
- NRF (climate & cooling)
- Federal-Mogul (Payen gaskets)
And below are some resources for looking up OE part numbers, same as dealers do:
You sent me the wrong part!
From time to time, things go wrong, and we will always put our hands up if we have advised you incorrectly.
However please do note that if we have sent you a part that is described exactly and is as pictured, then unfortunately we have not sent you the wrong part, you have ordered the wrong part!
But be assured, if there is any problem at all, we are willing to help and try and resolve any issue, we just ask that you contact us through the marketplace you purchased from (Amazon or eBay), before leaving neutral or negative feedback.
Compatibility information should always be taken as a guidance only, as explained earlier there could well be options for your vehicle, please contact us prior to purchase to confirm fitment, we usually respond pretty quickly.