Car Parts Buying Guide

Car parts buying guideMost people see cars as a money box on wheels and depending on the age and make of your car, parts will stop working quicker than others. Cheaper manufactured cars quite often need replacement parts quicker than better quality made cars.  Depending on individual circumstances or preference some people try and get their car back on the road as quickly and as cheaply as possible and the price of the part plays an important role in peoples buying decision.

When sourcing a replacement new or used part for your car depending on the part there are a few important factors to take into consideration.

Do you buy New or Used?

There are better things to spend your hard earned money on than a part for your car and buying a used car part will more than likely be your first choice but sometimes used parts can be quite difficult to source and this may force your decision.  Buying a used car part will be a lot cheaper than a new dealership part but like buying anything used there are things to remember such as wear and tear, age, and if the part is genuine and compatible.

If the part is from a used vehicle does it work and has it been tested?

If a secondhand car part is available for purchase from a car dismantler this part will more than likely be used and taken from a vehicle listed for breaking which obviously has had some wear and tear.

Most leading dismantlers are authorised to sell off the individual parts at a cheaper price compared to purchasing a new part from a main dealership which will save you a lot of money.  The part will be taken from a similar or compatible vehicle in age, make and model and unless the part has been replaced already by the previous owner will be a genuine manufacturer part or OEM approved part.

Dismantlers don’t want or need the hassle of having the part returned and having to make a refund so it is in their best interests to send the correct working part first time around.


If the part needed is a body panel, does it match the colour or your vehicle?

Every vehicle has a paint code or reference number. The paint code is a unique reference combination set by the manufacturer in case of an accident or damage to the body parts. If you are looking for an exact colour match this number is given to body parts suppliers to provide you with an old for new replacement to your vehicle which will save you money having it repainted.  The paint code identity number can be located either on a laminated label or on a metal plate. Here is where to locate the paint code label for some of the leading manufacturers.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Car Parts Guide

positioned the paint code label underneath the boot lid or on the spare wheel housing. The paint code is usually a three digit combination and can be a letter/number combination. In some cases it may be found on the inside of the bonnet.


Audi Car Parts Guide

paint codes are usually located in the spare wheel well or under the boot lid. The paint codes can be two, three or four number combos, or number/letter combinations.


BMW Car Parts Guide

The exact location of your car’s paint code will be listed in your owner’s manual and is usually made up of three numbers, a forward slash and another number. The name of the colour is also shown on the paint code label. This plaque can be found on either the left wheel well, right wheel well or firewall.


Chevrolet Car Parts Guide

are usually three – four numbers and letters long and begin their codes with the letters  BC or  CC. There will be two codes preceded by a U (upper) and L (lower) if your car has two-tone paintwork. You will find this usually inside the glove box or in the wheel well, but it can also be found on the driver’s side door frame, under the driver’s seat or in the passenger sun visor.


Fiat Car Parts Guide

Fiat paint codes comprise three-four numbers and letters and can normally be found on the driver side door compartment, or on the firewall.


Ford Car Parts Guide

Ford codes consist of two digits, and contain numbers and/or letters and will always be found on the driver’s side door frame or door edge.


Hyundai Car Parts Guide

Only two digits, one letter and one number and will be found in one of three locations in front of the radiator under the bonnet catch, firewall or driver’s side door frame,


Honda Car Parts Guide

Contain letters, numbers, and other symbols such as dashes. All Honda models paint code plaques will be found on the driver’s side door frame.


Jaguar Car Parts Guide

Jaguar codes format varies from model to model. Some will have three digits, others 4, while some have a long numbers combination ending with a letter. All Jaguar paint code plaques, can be found on the driver’s side door frame.


Kia Car Parts Guide

Found on the driver’s door frame and consisting of one letter and one number across all Kia models.


Mazda Car Parts Guide

Two or three numbers preceded by a letter and located on the driver’s side door frame. Alternatively check the firewall.


Mercedes Car Parts Guide

Mercedes Benz paint codes are usually a three digit number only and will be found and will be located in one of three locations on the driver’s side door frame, the firewall or in front of the radiator under the bonnet release catch.


Mini Car Parts Guide

A mix of numbers and letters making up three digits and can be found on the passenger side of the firewall, or on the passenger side strut / shock.


Saab Car Parts Guide

Like the mini the Saab paint codes are three digits long but contain only numbers. Occasionally, the code may be preceded by a letter. You may have to go hunting for this one. Begin with the driver’s side door frame moving to under the bonnet in front of the radiator, and if it’s not there finally the glove box or in the spare wheel compartment.


Suzuki Car Parts Guide

Three digits made up of all numbers, all letters, or a mixture of both and normally found on the passenger side firewall, in front of the radiator or on the driver’s side door frame.


Toyota Car Parts Guide

Toyota paint codes comprise three digits, and may contain both letters and numbers. The letters C/TR will always precede the code. Every Toyota model has the paint code always found on the driver’s side door frame.


Volkswagen Car Parts Guide

VW paint codes usually comprise two-four digits, and can be a combination of both letters and numbers. You will need to check three locations the rear deck lid, the spare tyre well, or under the boot mat.

Vauxhall / Opel

Normally three digits long and can be made up of numbers and letters and can be located either to the pillars behind the driver’s or passenger door, if it isn’t there  check on the top of the panel in front of the radiator when you lift the bonnet.  It may be helpful to know that later Vauxhall / Opel models, such as the Insignia, Astra, Zafira Tourer will have this plate located on the passenger side of the vehicle, older models such as Corsa, Vectra and Signum have this plate on the driver’s side.


Is the part compatible with my vehicle?

I think it is fair to say that car dismantlers have a mechanical knowledge about cars and car parts. They are experts in dismantling vehicles and have made their living from doing so for years. Understanding the car parts function is an important skill that any dismantler will need. The more information that a dismantler gets from you the greater the chance of finding the part that you are looking for. It is important to know that even though a dismantler may not have your exact vehicle for breaking they may have another vehicle that will be compatible with yours.


Is it a genuine manufacturer part, OEM part or is it an aftermarket part?

Finding your replacement parts as cheaply and quickly as possible is usually a priority when our vehicle is off the road but one thing we need to keep in mind is will the part last? There are so many options when buying a part but sometimes the information is confusing if you are not familiar with sourcing parts. A new main dealership part will come with a warranty and you have the peace of mind that it is from a reputable main dealer and that it is new and will last.

The term OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. What does that really mean? It means that the part was made by a company sub contracted to a vehicle manufacturer. In theory the manufacturers employ and trust the sub contractors to make these parts which are tested to industry standards before they are able to be sold.  A typical example would be Volkswagen fuel parts made by Bosch. This means that Bosch is the OEM for VW regardless of where you buy the Bosch part.

Aftermarket car parts are parts that may have a few minor differences in look and feel, but basically do the same job and serve their purpose. The companies who manufacture these aftermarket parts should legitimately buy the rights to manufacture parts but how do we know if the manufacture is genuine or not and what quality of material that they are using. The parts industry is very competitive and by offering a similar looking part that serves its purpose for less money is the main focus for these types of suppliers and quite often we assume that it is a main dealer or OEM part that we are purchasing. Selling cheap will have its downsides on the quality of the material used and quality control testing. We believe that you get what you pay for and are better off purchasing a good secondhand manufacturer or OEM part over a new aftermarket part. It will be better made, last longer, and will go through more stringent tests.  Better safer parts every time.


Delivery costs?

Delivery costs are determined by size and weight. Depending on the part that you require it may be small enough to send by post which will be very cheap to send, larger parcels may need to be sent by courier and will cost slightly more but larger parts may not be able to be sent as they won’t fit on a pallet and will need to be collected and suitable transport and possibly a driver will need to be factored into your costs.

A typical parcel that can be posted will measure no greater than 1 metre x 1 metre and weigh up to 30KG

A courier will deliver anything big or small and usually delivers within 48 hours. There are two courier types, one for parcels and the other for larger pallets measuring 1.2 metres x 1.2 metres x 1.2 metres. 30KG – 1 Ton is the typical weight that a courier will accept. We asked one of our leading dismantlers to give us the cost for a courier delivering an engine from Northern Ireland and the price was surprisingly reasonable.

NI – NI £25

NI – ROI £55

Sending a front end can fit on a pallet and will cost the same amount as the engine although far larger in size.


Is a refund offered if the part doesn’t work?

Most leading dismantlers will stand over their own parts providing that you have ordered the correct part to begin with. Dismantlers will mark their own parts with a unique signature to them so that they can identify their own parts if returned. Dismantlers have been caught out so many times by dishonest people getting their working part and sending back the faulty part demanding a refund. Places such as Ebay who are more focused on the buyer than the seller are renowned for scammers like this and most dismantlers in Ireland try and avoid advertising on Ebay as it ends up costing them money in the long run.

Playing your part and making sure that you order the correct part for your car first time around will save time and will be less inconvenient in the long run. Always speak to a qualified mechanic and get them to provide the name of the part. It is best practice to provide the part number as it will be an exact match to what you need. Keep in mind that one mechanic may call a part by a different name to another mechanic. Example Strut / Shock.  There are so many variations of parts so the more information that you can provide to the parts suppliers the less chance of error.


Is there a warranty with this part if so how long?

Dismantlers by law don’t have to offer a warranty on any parts purchased but usually offer some level of assurance or money back guarantee. Each dismantler will be different and it is down to their discretion on what level they offer. There is no warranty with electrical parts and they will not be exchanged by any dismantler. It is always best to ask the question beforehand. New parts on the other hand will more than likely come with a dealership warranty for how long it is down to the supplier and it is always best to check how long.


What year of a vehicle did the part come out of?

It is important when looking for a used part that your replacement is better than your existing one or out of a similarly aged vehicle. A better part will last longer as it has performed less work. A part is like anything, the older it is the more wear it will have endured and is more likely to break.  Although getting a better component is the best solution the parts may not always be available. When you can’t find a younger or similar vehicle you will need to broaden your search.  If you notice that there is a significant saving when ringing around for prices it will more than likely be that the part is from an older car. You may be asking for trouble as that part may break down soon and cost you more money in the long run.

Check out our guide on whether you have a faulty battery or a faulty alternator here.

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