The Garage Car Parts

How To Buy Auto Parts Good And Cheap

I buy about $30,000 worth of auto parts a year. This is how I do it for nickels on the dollar.

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You want cheap? Everybody sells it sooner or later these days. From the local discount parts stores that clear out their unpopular motor oils and cleaning supplies, to the neighborhood junkyard is getting ready to crush their unwanted 20 year old Ford Escort. 

Cheap can be found anywhere at anytime. But good and cheap? That’s a bit tougher to discover. As someone who buys nearly $30,000 worth of auto parts from everywhere on God’s green Earth every year, this is how I try to lower my auto parts expenses while keeping quality at a healthy premium. . 

Oil Specials

I obviously buy mine in big drums instead of little plastic quart bottles. But if you only maintain a small fleet it’s a pretty simple process. Most auto parts stores liquidate their less popular motor oils during the end part of the year and this site  tends to feature those opportunities whenever they arise. What I would do is combine those special situations with a rebate from the manufacturer. Mobil 1, Quaker State, Pennzoil, they all offer rebates of $10 to $15 during the year which makes these opportunities virtual freebies. Havoline even paid me $3.80 to buy 24 quarts of oil from them last year. 

Filters and Brake Pads

Amazon does have pretty good specials every now and then. But for my own daily drivers, I tend to buy nearly all my filters, brake pads, and wipers at Rockauto. If you buy a two year supply of parts that are your car’s consumables (parts that gradually wear out), you typically will save about a third off Amazon ‘s prices and nearly 80% off the local auto parts stores, These days a two year supply of consumable parts roughly equates to a set of brake pads and whatever oil, air, tranny and fuel filters you will need if you’re a DIY guy. 

Low Mileage European Cars

Low mileage Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo parts are best bought at FCPEuro. They have a lifetime warranty for everything they sell – even motor oil. You pay a bit more, but FCP is excellent with only featuring parts that will keep a prime European car in mint condition. 


If you can wait a few days for a radiator I still like Rockauto although Ebay and Amazon can also be a better fit for certain vehicles. With those you always want to make sure the hose fittings line up correctly. If you need a radiator right now, 1-800 Radiator offers same day delivery and they tend to have excellent inventory.

Cleaning Products

The auto parts stores still offer mail-in-rebates that make certain cleaning supplies nearly free. Again, this site covers that need as well as anything out there. But if you’re looking to buy it at a specific cheap point and time, check out cleaning products right around February at the auto parts stores. This is when the older designs and inventories are put on clearance and the new items come in those stores. If you have leather seats and want to recondition them, use Leatherique. It’s worlds better than the low quality stuff you typically find at the auto parts stores.  

Interior And Exterior Upgrades

If you’re looking for a ton of upgrades to your exterior and interior, Craigslist can be one hell of a good place to find them. The trick is to find someone who wrecked their car and only had liability insurance. I once upgraded a near base Nissan Versa and gave it brand new leather seats, new tires and alloy wheels, tinted windows, and new interior door panels along with a replaced catalytic converter. My total cost? Zero. I bought it for $1000 from a lady who wanted her daughter’s wrecked car gone, and sold it for $1500 to a fellow who wanted it to get his own wrecked car back on the road. Salvage auctions, such as Copart and Insurance Auto Auctions, can also be wonderful if you know someone who has a dealer’s license. But watch out for their fees!