The days of blistering afternoons spent on the harried hunt in junkyards and scrap-heaps for hard-to-find camshaft lifters or stock connecting rods for your 440 Big Block (it's a '69 Road Runner, in case you're wondering) are, thankfully, a thing of the past, as purchasing car parts online
(whether classic or current, performance or stock) have taken precedence for gear-heads everywhere, and is now more convenient than ever with the emergence of online shopping comparison sites like FindTarget Shopping
As automotive parts tend to the very specific, it's also not much of a stretch for the enterprising parts-hunter to comparison shop between several parts shops.
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If you're hesitant about the reputation of a particular auto parts shop or dealer, take some time to read the customer reviews for them, as well as any other shops that interest you. Previous customers' experiences with dealing with those stores will help you decide whether you want to order from those stores or not. Customers who, in the past, have experienced poor service with specific shops will be quick to steer others away from what they consider to be an unpleasant transaction.
The most important factor to consider when buying automotive parts online holds true for mail order parts as well: be absolutely certain that the part you're ordering is the correct model. Don't assume a year to year interchangeability (that often isn't there), and only order parts that you're sure are made specifically for your car, whether they are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or made by a third party manufacturer. Keep on an eye on any of the various auto guides (I'm a long-time fan of Chilton's) or run a quick online search for the part model number that is specific to your needs.
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...And finally, don't forget that buying online is safe so long as you're dealing with a secure website. The quickest way to tell if a site is or isn't secure and using SSL encryption (Secure Sockets Layer) is to take a quick glimpse at the bottom right-hand corner of your browser. If there is a locked padlock icon, you are on a secure site.
The internet affords gear-heads and weekend tinkerers alike access to a wider variety of automotive parts than ever before, and by keeping a couple of the above guidelines in mind, you'll be sure to avoid getting burned and ensure many more happy transactions to come.
Alexander Buckley-Smith is a real estate analyst. He lives with his wife Sheri, their two children, a pug named Piscopo, and his 69 Road Runner in Sturgis, South Dakota.