A Guide to Parts Purchasing: Benefits and Drawbacks

Today is a beautiful but sickly hot day here in NYC and I am faced with another customer who pre-purchased his parts and wants us to install them. In the past in all the shops I worked at I never offered this option to customers, but at some shops that will try to give customers more options then just what they must offer. This post is going to be all about the + and – to buying your own parts as well as information on getting it right the first time when you do buy them.

Let me preface this post with this: As a service manager, I prefer that I supply the parts to my customers for purely practical reason aside from the fact that I make a profit from the part. This blog and my service is always based on open and honest facts and information. I will outline what the upside and down side to bringing your own parts and allow you the client to make your own educated choice.


Price – You can usually buy them at a lower cost than the shop will offer the part at.

Quality – You can weigh the benefits of getting a better brand and quality part.

Warranty – Your part may carry a longer warranty then what is offered by the shop.

Knowledge – You know that the part you are replacing is new and not damaged.

Speed – When you bring your own part you know that the technician won’t have to wait for the part to be ordered and actually get to the shop.When in doubt err on the side of caution. Don’t by a part when there are multiple options and you don’t have the answers to some questions.


Accuracy – Many times when a customer brings their own part the part is not correct. If the technician has already disassembled your car and the parts turns out to be wrong, most shops will still charge you for the labor and any additional time your car takes up on the lift.

Warranty – While the warranty offered by the auto parts store may be longer, it does not cover labor. In my shop, if the part I installed was defective I will cover the labor and replacement of the part from the get-go. If you buy your own part and it is defective you will have to go buy a new one and lay out the money first, then return the defective part for a refund.

Warranty – A shop like mine will offer you a warranty that is valid nationwide. A local part store will not be able to offer you the same kind of warranty.

Quality – Most shops that offer you a warranty have it in their best interest to offer you only high-quality parts. In my shop, I wouldn’t offer an off-brand part on your car because that would almost guarantee that you return quickly with a problem.

Many parts, i.e. electrical components are non-refundable. If you end up with the wrong part you must eat the cost.

If you decide to buy your own parts: I advise that you get your car checked out first prior to purchasing the part. This way you are certain of what the problem is and buy the correct part.

Be sure to know all the little details that might be needed. Don’t think that a question regarding 4WD or ABS doesn’t matter. Know what the sub model of the car is, whether it has ABS, if it’s 4WD, if it has third row seating etc.

When in doubt err on the side of caution. Don’t by a part when there are multiple options and you don’t have the answers to some questions.

Be sure you know the return policy!

Think about quality and warranty when purchasing parts. Aftermarket parts and perfectly OK,  try to get OE fitment with brands like DensoMotorcraftNGK and the like. A part specialist will be able to advise you on better brands for the specific part you need.


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