The best auto parts store will sell you the parts you need to keep your car running like new. Even if your car is new, you'll eventually have to replace a part in it and you'll have to buy that part from somewhere.
You can buy auto parts online these days to save time and money. But not all auto parts websites are the same, here are my top picks for the best online auto parts stores.
In This Guide
Auto Parts Stores: Our Top Picks
Advanced Auto Parts Review
- Established and respected company
- Large selection of products
- Many stores nationwide
- Easy to use website
- Daily deals section
- Not as competitively priced
Advanced Auto Parts was founded in 1932 and is one of the oldest auto parts dealers in the United States. Today, they are a well-established, respected brand and the largest automotive parts retailer in the nation.
As you may expect from such a large store, Advanced Auto Parts has a huge selection of a wide variety of parts including batteries, engine parts, brakes, automotive tools, accessories, and more.
They have a comprehensive and easy to use website with a helpful search tool. You can also find daily deals and specials that will help you save money. The site has a variety of learning tools in their DIY Garage blog, video, and resources sections, which is really helpful if you want to learn more about automotive repairs. The resources can guide you through the DIY auto repair process.
Advanced Auto Parts offers free shipping for orders over $75. You also have the option of picking up your order at one of their thousands of nationwide storefronts to avoid a shipping charge. Orders are generally ready for pickup in store within one hour of placing your order.
Although the retailer offers a variety of great features and conveniences, they aren't as competitively priced as some other stores for certain products. The site's educational section and resources are worth checking out, even if you don't make a purchase from the company.
Auto Parts Warehouse Review
- Competitively priced
- Excellent website
- Helpful search tools
- Warehouses all over the country for convenient delivery
- Free shipping on orders $50 or more
- 20% restocking fee
Unlike some other auto parts stores, Auto Parts Warehouse operates solely by shipping products that are ordered by phone or online. Ordering straight from the warehouse and not from a retailer has some perks.
Because the products don't have to go through middlemen at storefronts and retail shops, you can get parts at a wholesale price, which is usually considerably lower than the retail price.
Auto Parts Warehouse has a wide variety of products to choose from and the easy-to-use website and helpful search tools can help you find exactly what you are looking for. You can use the simple search bar to enter a keyword or the model number.
You can also use their other search tool to find a part by entering the make and model of your car. This is great when you are looking for a part that was specially made for your vehicle.
Standard shipping takes 2 to 7 business days. But bulk orders can take up to 20 days to ship. Other companies ship it in less time, but that is rare. However, they do have a policy to include free shipping on orders $50 and over.
One major drawback of Auto Part Warehouse is the restocking fee. If you need to return something, the auto parts store charges you a 20% fee to take it back.
Stocking fee aside, Auto Part Warehouse is competitively priced and is one of the most helpful websites in the industry. Think carefully before you order to reduce the chance that you'll need to return your parts and pay the fee.
- Established and respected company
- Excellent website
- Helpful search tools
- Find a mechanic search tool
- Great deals and saving
- May not be able to return used or installed items
AutoZone has been in the industry since 1979 and has over 5,000 retail store locations in the United States, Mexico and Brazil. It is a well-established company with a large catalog of available parts to choose from. The site is designed well and has a very easy to use format. There are simple category tabs with dropdown menus for when you want to browse the site to see what they offer. You can also use the search tool by typing in keywords, vehicle models, or a specific parts identification number. AutoZone has stores all over the nation, which allows you the option to have orders delivered or you can pick up orders in the store that is near you. If you decide to pick up your order, you can pick it up on the same day that it is placed.
AutoZone also has a helpful tool that helps you find a repair shop in your area. You can even refine your search to include shops that caters to a certain language, service certain vehicles, or offers specific services. AutoZone offers some interesting ways to save. The online auto parts store offers an incentive for signing up for its email list, for example. It also runs specials from time to time, particularly around the holidays. AutoZone is a good site to choose and has plenty of helpful resources. Also, the interesting deals and promotional savings make it worth considering.
Key Considerations When Looking for an Online Auto Parts Store
The Best Auto Parts Store
If you do want to look for your own auto parts online, you can see all of your pricing options and a large selection of parts. In the past, you would have to go to a store or two to see what they have in stock. Today, you can see a huge selection of parts on a variety of websites all within a short time frame.
Finding the right part for the right price, however, may depend on the sites and stores you visit. There are a variety of good car supply stores selling auto parts online; here are a few things you should consider when you are looking for one:
- What sort of parts do they have available? Make sure the store you are looking at has a wide selection of the parts you are looking for.
- What is their return policy? Not everyone is a mechanical genius and there is a chance that you might make a mistake and buy the wrong part. If so, you should be able to get your money back or exchange it for the correct part.
- Compare a store's prices with other competing stores. Don't just buy from the first site or store that you visit.
- Shipping speed. Free shipping is great, but if your car needs to be repaired immediately, you need to get that part ASAP. The best auto parts store is going to offer speedy shipping options as well as basic ground shipping.
- Customer service availability and quality. You're not a mechanic, but you do have questions about your order. The best car parts websites have reps standing by to answer your questions and help you through the ordering process.
- Best prices. "You get what you pay for" isn't the case when it comes to ordering auto parts. You want the right part, for the lowest price possible.
How to Get the Best Deal
Ordering auto parts online is only really worth it if you're getting the best price for those parts. Here are a few tactics I've found that helbringsng down the total cost of repairing my car.
1. Find a Discount Code
Trust me, you don't want to do any online shopping without a promo or coupon code. Discount codes are a dime a dozen these days. It's rare for a store not to be offering some sort of promotion or discount.
Often, the website will let you know about the promotion the minute it loads. If that's the case--great, just make sure you put the promo code in before you order.
Ordering auto parts online is only really worth it if you're getting the best price for those parts.
Some sites make it a little more challenging to get a discount. You might need to sign up for their email list, for example. Or you might need to visit a third-party site to find a list of currently active promos. Keep in mind that those sites occasionally list expired coupons. If you find one that doesn't work, rate it on the site so that other shoppers know.
2. Ask About Price Matching
A number of online auto parts stores try to stand out from the competition by matching the prices offered by other stores. If you have a favorite store but you find the part you need, offered by a different store for a better price, contact your preferred store and ask about their price matching policy.
3. Get Free Shipping
Shipping costs can make or break an online purchase. According to research from Pitney Bowes, about half of online shoppers surveyed have walked away from a purchase because the shipping fees turned out to be too great.
One way to save money on auto parts is to choose stores that offer free shipping. Some will offer free shipping on all orders, others expect you to make a minimum purchase. Depending on how much you buy, shipping costs can be what leads you to choose one retailer over another.
4. Order the Right Part, the First Time
It sounds like a no-brainer, but ordering the right part, the first time you order can save you a lot of money, time and stress. While most online auto parts websites will take back unused parts in new condition and in unopened packaging, quite a few charge a restocking fee for returns.
That fee can be between 15 and 20 percent of the cost of your order. If you mess up and order the wrong part, you'll need to pay for the mistake, which is pretty much a waste of money. Do yourself and your wallet a favor and only order if you're absolutely sure you're getting the right part.
Online Auto Parts Store vs. the Car Dealer
If you can easily bring your car to the dealership for repairs, why would you bother going the DIY route, ordering the part you need from an auto parts website?
Well, for one thing, car dealers are known for jacking up the price of the parts they sell you. I'm not talking a small 50 or 100% markup here. According to Road and Track, dealers have been known to charge a 5,000% premium on the parts they sell to customers. A simple $5 part can end up costing you thousands of dollars at a dealership.
Dealers have been known to charge a 5,000% premium on the parts they sell to customers. A simple $5 part can end up costing you thousands of dollars at a dealership.
A few years ago, the guys behind Car Talk, the radio call-in show where people ask questions about their vehicles, did a study to see how much more the dealers charged compared to independent mechanics.
Depending on the make and model of the car, the cost of repairs at a dealership was between 12 and 18 percent higher than the cost of the same repairs at an independent mechanic's shop. The hourly labor rate charged by dealerships was nearly double that charged by independent shops.
Another reason to avoid the dealership is the practice of upselling. That's when you bring your car in for an oil change and end up also getting the windows tinted, the tires rotated and a new coat of paint. Maybe you did actually need to have your tires rotated, but it's likely that you were pressured into the new coat of paint and the window tinting by a pushy salesperson.
One way to avoid upselling is to install the parts yourself. If that's out of the question, it's worth it to get a second opinion, from an independent mechanic. Independent mechanic shops often have more at stake than dealerships, so they are more likely to tell you straight whether you really need to have additional parts or services installed.
Getting a second opinion lets you know for sure whether you need a particular repair or service or not. It also gives you some leverage for haggling. You can get quotes from a number of different repair shops, then use those quotes to negotiate with the company you actually want to work with.
Plus, if you work with a smaller repair part shop, they are more likely to let you bring in your own parts. The shop will only charge you labor fees, which can help you save a considerable amount of money.
How to Find your Parts
One of the most important things to know before you buy anything at an online auto parts store is the exact part you need. For the most part, car parts aren't interchangeable.
Each make, model, and year of the car will need a specific part. When you visit an auto parts shop in person, most have huge books that contain a list of all the different types of cars out there and the parts that work with them.
When you shop for cheap auto parts online, you don't get to consult that book. But the best auto parts stores do let you input your car's make, model, and year and will pull up a list of all the parts that work with it, which reduces the chance of you ordering the wrong part.
Even if the website you're using does offer that feature, it doesn't hurt to call the car dealer to verify the specific make and model of the part you need. They might be a little annoyed that you're not bringing your car into them for service, but they will most likely tell you which part is right for your car. If the dealer won't cooperate, you can locate the part you need online.
Related: Compare Car Insurance Quotes
It pays to shop around when you need a part for your car. Visit multiple auto part sites before you buy and make sure you are getting the best deal and the exact part you need. Take advantage of the price matching policies offered by several companies to make sure you're getting the best price possible, no matter what part you need to buy.
Of course, there are times when your car needs more than a new part. If it's time to trade in your old clunker for a new model, check out my review of the best auto loan companies to find financing that works for you.
Don't forget to protect your vehicle from any surprises that might occur on the road. Learn more about the best car insurance companies to find the policy that offers the best protection for the best price.