You Can Save Money by Buying Automotive Parts Online, but…

by | Sep 1, 2016 | Auto Tips, Buying/Selling

This blog post was originally published in 2011, but has been updated to reflect the fact that beginning September 1, 2016, BA Auto Care began covering all major repairs for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

It is very easy to find automotive parts online at great prices but I would only recommend doing this if you are going to install the parts yourself.

Every now and then I am reminded why we have policies that control how we do business. One policy that comes up frequently relates to customers buying parts online to save money. People assume that we can install the parts that are being purchased online. When we first established our policy, our service manager asked me what I thought. At first I considered it, but then I asked myself the question, what does BA Auto Care do? “We provide quality service and repairs and stand behind them with a parts and labor warranty“. Could we do this if the customer was supplying the parts?  Well no.  The customer would be responsible for the parts, but we would be responsible for the labor. This split responsibility could lead to problems if the parts failed prematurely. We would have no control over quality, and would end up in the middle. We could potentially perform a job several times (with free labor) that could have been done once, if done correctly the first time with a quality part.

Sure it is very easy to save money on parts online. In fact sometimes you can get them cheaper than we can, but are you really saving in the long run if your car doesn’t get a high quality repair the first time?

Think of it this way…when you buy a service, you buy more than just the labor to do the job; you buy the whole package.  If you are working with a high quality auto repair shop, they will take responsibility for the whole job. That’s why it is very important that the garage that diagnoses the fault on your car 1) secures any parts necessary, 2) does the repair and 3) warranties it.

Vehicles are very complex, and sometimes customers just don’t understand this.  They think things are simple — “just put on the parts”. We have learned over the years that good, consistent policies and practices lead to quality repairs and service. In fact, we have such a strong degree of confidence in the excellent quality of work provided by our technicians and the consistent high caliber of the original equipment manufacturer parts we use, that we have been able to extend our warranty on major repairs from 2-years/24,000 miles to 3-years/36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

So, if you are thinking of buying parts on line, here are seven reasons you may want to think again…

  1. You will find it difficult to find a garage to install the parts.
  2. It will be hard to find an auto repair shop willing to warranty the job.
  3. Once the job is completed, there will be a split in the responsibility for the results.
  4. You will have to pay shipping and handling.
  5. Parts suppliers often send the wrong parts, and that will be hard to resolve.
  6. If there are parts cores (i.e. components that need to be returned to the supplier), you will have to process the returns.
  7. Finally unless you totally understand what the parts do and how they work you will not be able to control the quality of the parts or the work being performed.

Life is complex enough; think twice before going down this road.


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.