questionshow come i never find cheap car parts?

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I just saw a nice hubcap by the side of the road, have you looked there?

Kidding aside, we just got rid of a 26 year old car, and the cheapest way to get parts was the old fashioned way, pull it yourself at the junkyard. We also had one online place that specialized in used parts, and another for aftermarket parts, but both were only for only for volvos. It's funny, when we bought it, everyone told us it would be super expensive to fix, but we never found that to be true. I would suggest try a search for sites that specialize your make of car, rather than searching for a specific part, some of these places won't pop up if you search the other way.

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I occasionally see discounts here from Advance, but if I ever need a part I just buy local. When I need it I don't have time to wait.

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Many (probably most) people depend on their cars quite heavily and even one or two days without a car is a PITA. So, while we can wait for a great price on clothing or electronics, we generally cannot wait very long when our cars need parts.

In my case, even a day without my car can be a royal PITA and I barely put 45 miles on my car in a normal week. I can take the bus to work, but it takes four times as long and costs over $2 a day more. I can ride my bike, but that doesn't work well in bad weather or on days I have to pick up my daughter from school. In fact, I've been putting off getting an oil change for almost a month because it hasn't been convenient.

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I think the prices are a sign that you are buying quality OEM products. Even though it is probably heavily marked up, they are marked up everywhere.

If you are good at judging quality of parts on your own, do not underestimate @pickypickypicky's advice about junkyards. There are miles and miles of car graveyards that have everything you could possibly need in varying quality.

As you know, car companies try to recycle as many parts as possible along as many models as possible to save costs. Research which specific models have similar items to yours and then go hunting for these cars. Don't forget how some companies partner with each other on some models like Toyota/Chevrolet, Mitsubishi/Chrysler, Ford/Lincoln, etc.

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My local mom-and-pop sells parts cheaper than the chain stores. So try that first.

Online ... Advance Auto Parts (when using coupons) and RockAuto.

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There might just not be a market for cheaper parts. Typically, I've been told most stuff you want to get from the dealer, at least stuff that's specific to your car.

DIY/ not-"essential"-to-get-from-the-dealer stuff, your best bet is to research. Some stuff just does NOT vary in price though. Guitar stuff never really fluctuates, for instance. Find an accessory; the same model will be darn close to the same price EVERYWHERE. Even used, I've rarely seen a savings of more than 10 or 15%. There are just a few markets where the markup has won, I suppose.

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I work at a dealer and it's insane the markup on aftermarket parts. I have bought 200 dollar water pumps for 85 dollars my price. Their "Premium" rotors are sometimes as cheap of 35 dollars (with a list price of 70) It's ridiculous sometimes. I put some of the parts on my car but if they're making a profit off 35 dollars a rotor then I don't feel safe putting it on my car.

Needless to say, junkyard is probably your best bet, especially ones that warranty their parts for 6months/6000 miles. And like @pickypickypicky said try to find a site that specializes in your car. The rotary customers I see are always talking about mazdatrix and they seem to be a pretty legit place. There are plenty of places out there you just need to look for them.

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Here's my normal order of finding parts:

1) Online forum for the vehicles I have (I currently belong to 5 different ones) look at the for sale section or even the local section. If there's one thing I've found in the years of auto work, it's people are always upgrading for what ever the reason and have perfectly good parts laying around they will get rid off for next to nothing, even free just to get them out of their garage.

2) Junkyard or a U pull it, as mentioned is a valuable source of parts.

3) Ebay or craigslist

4) rockauto.com, they have everything, but prices start to go up.

5) last, and usually I do everything possible to avoid this, but the dealer.

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IF you know the right part number, you can find it cheap online. I needed a ABS sensor, I got the part number and did a google search and found the part for about 189.00. The repair shop told me $250.00. I won!

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Amazon or E-Bay great for brakes,alternators etc.

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Advanced Auto Parts constantly runs coupon codes. Without double checking, I think P20 saves you 20% right off the top. MY5 saves you 15% off $100 or more and gives you a $50 gift certificate for a future purchase of $100 or more. Order online and pickup in-store.

As for online, yeah, eBay. I've bought some larger items (radiator, condenser, etc) off there because it was ridiculously cheap even with shipping. Where else can I find a new radiator for 30 bucks shipped?! Freight alone probably cost that much. Condenser was even less than that I think. Brand new. Already installed and has been working great. So not much I can say against the Chinese knock-off...

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What a nightmare that would be! A couple places to find auto parts that aren't marked up Jack's Beanstalk that I've found when looking for restoration parts are eBay and the individual forum for the specific vehicle you own.

eBay often has lots of specific items from dealership or auto repair shops that are found doing inventory or when places are closing their doors.

Individual vehicles all have forums for owners of that specific vehicle and you can pretty much find anything you are looking for or at least find out where you can get it. Information abounds on the forums and most of the people there are some of the most knowledgeable, helpful people you'll ever find.

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@baqui63: Please, if your vehicle is as important as you think it is, don't put off that oil change, inconvenient or not, get it done, before you're not only spending that extra $2.00 a day because your car is in the shop, but you've also got a repair bill. The entire DIY cost is under $20 depending on the oil filter cost and the oil you use (synthetic could bring it up to $30.) The repair bill you could end up with could easily go into the hundreds. If you don't have the time to DIY, call and set an appointment with your mechanic and get it done. Calling to set an appointment gives it the sense of urgency it needs so you don't cancel it.

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@geri9254:

Thanks for your concern, but it isn't necessary:

Ford recommends an oil change every 5000 miles or six months for my 2004 Ford Taurus for "normal driving conditions" (whatever that means). With severe driving conditions, it increases to every 3000 miles or three months or 200 hours of engine operation.

You may have noticed above that I need my car for less than 45 miles a week; what I didn't state is that I rarely put even double that on it. Also, I aim for oil changes every 3500 miles or four months, so delaying for a month or 1000 miles really isn't a problem.

I used to do my own oil changes, but unless my time is worthless, I save money by going to a mechanic. Plus he checks other things (he does all the service on my car).

Finally, it is because my mechanic requires an appointment several days in advance that it is a hassle. What if it rains that day and I cannot ride my bike to work? (In truth, I don't mind this, as a good mechanic is worth this hassle.)

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I also use RockAuto.com all the time. There are all kinds of 5% off coupons at retailmenot.com

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Thanks for all the good info, guys! Looks like I'll be checking RockAuto and Advance for my incidentals.