Best shops to buy car parts online 2021

T

Tom Barnard

Guest
The past year has changed the way we shop. Whether you need Weetabix or wheel nuts, more of us are heading to the Internet rather than the high street.

For car parts and accessories, this has meant the growth of online firms that can source commonly needed components from massive warehouses, rather than the store room at the back of a shop.

Having access to this stock means you have more chance of finding elusive parts if your car is a little less mainstream, while prices are usually keen, too. You can also compare costs in comfort, so you’ll spend more time working on your car, rather than traipsing around parts departments and motor factors.

But there are a huge number of online sellers battling for your business, ranging from massive firms to small shops who have gone online to move with the times. We tested eight of the best to see which delivered, and which drove us spare.

How we tested them​


We picked eight online car part sellers, choosing the big names and asking a search engine for the best deals. To get a good idea of prices and availability, we priced up a basket of six commonly needed parts from three cars that are likely to be fettled by a DIY motorist.

Our list included front brake pads and discs for a 2011 Fiat 500, a headlamp and door mirror for a 2007 Nissan Qashqai, plus an alternator and oil filter for a 2005 Ford Focus. We also added five litres of 5/30 semi-synthetic oil to our basket.

If more than one option was offered, we used the cheapest listed item. We also checked the delivery cost and times, scored the sites for ease of use, and looked for customer reviews.

Part and parcel​


Ordering parts online can bring big savings and ultimate convenience, but the high street shop still has a lot to offer. We found that there was sometimes a bewildering array of different components listed for the same make, model and year of car. If you are sent the wrong one, you could be tied up for days arranging returns and trying to find the correct fitment. Sometimes it’s best to go and physically look at parts, even if it costs a little more.

Also bear in mind that larger parts such as alternators and starter motors are sometimes reconditioned items, so you’ll need to send the old part in exchange to get the best price.

Verdict​


It’s just as well the Internet is easy to use, because you’ll need to do some mouse clicking to find the best deals on all your parts. Some retailers were strong on service items such as filters and brake pads, while others were very competitive on rarely needed components like alternators and headlamps.

The strongest performance across the board came from Onlinecarparts.co.uk, which was great value and easy to use. Carparts4less.co.uk came in second, while eBay is still worth a try if you are sure of what you need and are buying a small number of items. We couldn’t score GSF because it didn’t have all the parts we needed, but it’s well worth a look for common service items.

  1. Onlinecarparts.co.uk
  2. Carparts4less.co.uk
  3. eBay.co.uk

Web-based motor factor reviews​

Onlinecarparts.co.uk​


This site and www.autodoc.co.uk (below) appear to be run by the same company, yet this store worked better and had keener prices.

It has the odd annoying glitch that occasionally makes it tricky to navigate, and some of the wording appears to have been translated by Google rather than a human, but we found that everything we wanted was in stock and prices were keen. The site was also full of useful information, such as the correct oil grade, service intervals and sump capacity for our car. Watch the delivery charge if you are spending less than £140, though.

Carparts4less.co.uk​


AS with many rivals here, the Carparts4less site makes it confusing to get an accurate price for parts because there are so many different discounts and offers in place. But persevere through the minefield of codes, and the value and choice are impressive.

The site gave us several options for most of the parts, but the basket came to £279.86 once the discount codes had been applied. Other than the bewildering offers, the site is simple to use, and delivery is free for orders above £15. Some parts did look a touch expensive, so shop around if you’re only buying a couple of items.

Ebay.co.uk​


We included eBay in this test to see how prices compared with traditional retailers. We chose only new parts (or reconditioned, in the case of the alternator) rather than going for used, and the result was a substantially cheaper basket.

However, this was mainly due to big savings on the headlamp and alternator, while the other service parts were comparable in cost to rival sites. You have to be prepared to do your homework too, double checking that you have the right part and buying from multiple sellers, rather than a single source.

Autodoc.co.uk​

  • Price: £294.89
  • Delivery: Free over £140, or £8.45
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • www.autodoc.co.uk

This appears to be the poorer relation of the winning onlinecarparts.co.uk site, and has been saddled with baffling wording and functionality. This causes confusion when trying to select some items, and the site told us a few parts – including staples such as brake pads and engine oil – weren’t available for our cars.

Some items, such as the headlight and mirror glass, were among the cheapest here, while others were the priciest, despite coming from the same brands as its sister site. You’ll need to be spending more than £140 to avoid the hefty delivery charge too.

Ymfcarparts.co.uk​


This smart and professional-looking website has a vehicle registration number ‘look up’ to help you identify the correct parts for your car, and it works well, quickly finding all of our sample bits. Behind the pretty facade there are limitations, though.

Once you’ve entered your car’s details, selected the part and added it to the basket, you have to enter the registration again if you want to continue shopping for the same vehicle. There’s a ‘Live Chat’ button to help out, but we tried it and were left hanging on two occasions. It didn’t give us a suggestion for the correct oil to put in our Focus, either.

EuroCarParts.com​


Euro Car Parts and Carparts4less share a parent company, so they have the same slick functionality. Unfortunately it also means you have to navigate the same ever-changing discount codes before settling on a final price.

The main difference between the sites is that you can collect the ECP purchases from a network of stores across the country. This might be attractive if you need the parts in a hurry, but it clearly adds to the cost, too, because prices are more expensive across the whole basket.

Amazon.co.uk​

  • Price: £367.60
  • Delivery: Free (with Prime membership)
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • www.amazon.co.uk

We tend to turn to Amazon for most things we need delivered in a hurry, so it represents a threat to the traditional car parts specialists. Many of them have taken a ‘can’t beat them, join them’ approach and now sell parts via the site, too.

It’s certainly convenient because you’ll not need to enter your details if you have an Amazon account. You can now enter your registration number and the correct part for your car will be listed, too. But you’ll need to scroll past the sponsored suggestions to find the lower prices, and even then Amazon didn’t come out as cheapest on any item.

GSFcarparts.com​


GSF’s site is the easiest to use of any here, with a fast and accurate search function. It also helpfully suggests other parts you’ll need, such as brake pads when buying discs, for example.

The commonly used service items were all great value, with a £3.02 oil filter, £8.81 brake pads and £17.93 fully synthetic oil being astonishingly cheap. But start to look for anything more complicated and GSF unravels, with the Focus alternator and both Qashqai parts unavailable. It’s worth trying GSF if you are doing a service on a mainstream car, but you’re going to struggle to find anything out of the ordinary.

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