The Complete Guide to Shopping for Car Parts: Everything to Know

Do you know what to do if your car breaks down?

You’re cruising along, and your car starts shaking. As your car comes to a complete stop, you start wondering if you’re safe.

Breaking down on the road can be scary. But as long as you know the proper safety steps to follow, you’ll be able to keep yourself and your passengers safe.

Of course, you could prevent the problem altogether by keeping your car happy and healthy. Proactively buying new parts is a great way to prevent engine failures.

What do you need to know when shopping for car parts? Read on to find out.

Understanding Your Engine

Before you start shopping for car parts, it helps if you understand how your engine works. Why? Having a basic understanding of how your engine works will make it easier to communicate with mechanics when it comes time for repairs.

If you have a modern car, the gasoline injects directly into the cylinders at the top of the compression stroke. Other engines will premix the air and fuel throughout the intake stroke.

The spark plugs take off before the piston can reach the top of its travel. The spark plugs will ignite the air and the fuel mixture when the piston reaches the dead center.

What is it that power is the pistons to go up and down within your engine? It will be all of those tiny explosions that come from the spark plugs mixing the oxygen in the fuel mixture.

Every time the fuel ignites, it’s called power or stroke. Some people refer to ignition as combustion. It’s a way of the heat and gas expanding from a miniature explosion to push that piston down into the cylinder.

Intake Stroke Problems

If your engine is having difficulty getting oxygen during the intake stroke, it’s not going to be able to function correctly. There will also be issues if your pistons are being restricted and can’t move upwards and downwards with ease.

Whenever there’s an issue with the intake stroke, you’ll know right away. Your car might be rattling, stalling, or even smoking in some situations. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be something you can easily fix on your own. For intricate problems with the intake, reach out to a certified mechanic.

If your car’s under warranty, make sure the mechanic uses OE parts. Otherwise, you could wind up voiding your warranty.

OE vs. OEM Car Parts

Do you know the difference between original equipment or original equipment manufacturer parts? You’ll probably see original equipment listed as OE. While originally equipment manufacturer lists as OEM.

If you have a classic car, like a Chevy Silverado, you’ll be able to find a lot of different Chevy Silverado parts. The parts will come both in OE and OEM.

Original equipment meant that it would be the exact part installed on your vehicle when it was first made. Whereas OEM means that you’ll be getting a piece that doesn’t come from the original manufacturer. You’ll still be getting the same part for your car model, but it won’t have the manufacturer’s logo.

OEM parts are going to cost less than genuine parts. You’ll also find that OEM parts are very reliable, and you won’t even be able to notice the difference when it comes to your car’s performance.

The only issue is that OEM can affect the value of your vehicle. This really only matters if you have a classic car, or newer model vehicle.

Now would be a good time to check your car insurance policy to see what type of parts it covers. Hopefully, you have a car insurance policy that will cover the original equipment, OE, or genuine part. That means if something happens to your car and you need to replace a piece, you’ll be able to replace it with an original part.

Piston Problems

Is there a clunking or tapping that’s coming from underneath the hood? This might mean that you’re having a problem with your pistons, and remember, those are the heart of your engine.

Thumping could also point to problems with your connecting rods or valves. You’ll want to get thumping clunking sounds checked out immediately as well.

 Gas Tips

How you drive your car affects its condition and your gas usage. Traveling at fast speeds constantly will cause more wear and tear on your vehicle. You’ll also be burning up a lot of gas.

We suggest being kind to your car as you drive by taking turns slowly and accelerating at reasonable speeds. You can also check out these free apps to help you save gas throughout the week.

Lug Nuts and Brakes

Does your car sound like there’s change clanging around a dryer? When your vehicle sounds like coins are jangling around, you might be dealing with a loose lug nut.

Try driving the vehicle at a low speed, and notice if the sound slows down. Does it sound pick up as you accelerate? That means your wheel wasn’t properly tightened, and you’ll need to take care of that immediately.

Brake Pads

Another sound you shouldn’t ignore is the brakes squealing or growling. If in the brakes are squealing; it might mean that the brake pads are almost entirely worn out. Get your brakes checked immediately, and make sure there isn’t any metal touching metal.

Constant Velocity Joints

What about finger-snapping or clicking sounds when you’re turning the vehicle? If you’re using a front-wheel-drive or even an all-wheel-drive car, and you hear a clicking sound during turns, you’ve got a problem. You’ll likely need to replace both of the constant velocity joints in your front axle.

Universal Joint

Another sound to watch out for is rhythmic squeaks. If the squeaks speed up as you go faster, you probably have issues with your universal joint or u-joint. The u-joint is a component of your driveshaft, and it comes in pairs.

You’ll need to reach out to a mechanic to inspect the condition of your universal joint to see if it needs any help.

Differential and Fluid Leaks

What about singing sounds? Sometimes people drive their car, and they hear something like whining or quiet singing. If this happens to you, ask yourself a couple of questions to diagnose the problem.

Do you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle? Does the singing sound get louder as you speed up?

There’s a good chance that your car is leaking fluid. The differential that lets your wheels turn at different rates might be leaking fluid quickly. You’ll want to get it fixed right away.

Alternator and Conditioner or Vehicle Belts?

If you’re healing a squealing sound instead of a singing sound, there’s probably something wrong with one of your vehicle’s belts. You might have a loose belt, which will be easy to fix. Squealing can also indicate air conditioner compressor problems or alternator issues.

Serpentine Belt 

Do you have a new car? Then it’s likely any type of squealing sound is coming from an issue with your serpentine belt. The serpentine belt handles multiple accessories at once, and it gets noisy when it’s not working correctly. The good news is that replacing your serpentine belt is affordable and fast.

Replacing Old Parts With Research

Once you know what’s wrong with your car, you can start shopping for parts online. However, even if you know the exact amount you’re looking for, you still need to do some research.

It would help to compare parts from multiple sites to find out who’s offering the best deal. You can also call a local car dealership, give them the part number, and ask them for pricing.

After finding somebody who offers the part you want, you’re going to want to verify the details at a reasonable rate. For instance, what are the return policy and warranty on the part? If there’s something defective with the park, you’ll want a good recourse plan.

Alternatively, if you accidentally buy the wrong part, you’ll also want to know that you can return it without any hassles. Protect yourself even more by only purchasing from secure marketplaces. Choose retailers with excellent customer reviews and convenient checkout methods.

Along with being convenient, such as accepting credit and debit cards, the checkout method needs to be secure. If money is an issue, you can look for retailers that offer monthly payments using a secured platform.

Shopping for Car Parts the Right Way

Now that you know the ins and outs of shopping for car parts, you’ll be able to keep your car running smoothly.

If you’re noticing strange sounds in your vehicle or already know something’s wrong with it, reach out to a mechanic today. Find out exactly what type of car part you’ll need. Once you have the part number, you can decide whether you want to get OEM or OE parts.

If you want to save money, go with original equipment manufacturer parts. Then read another article from our blog to get more great tips.


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