It never fails. You are working on your car and you are faced with replacing a special part that seems easy enough to repair, but may be really difficult to buy. This is especially true for older cars. Try looking for the dashboard part of a

Photo by Lee Attwood

1948 Ford Anglia. Good luck. So, what can you do? In this article, I will offer some advice on where to look for parts and how to buy them.

Buying Car Parts Locally

The most obvious place to look for car parts is your local car parts store. Most towns or cities have at least one decent store with plenty of car parts. This is great, especially if your car is only a few years old and you do not need any “exotic” parts. It also helps if your car is a mainstream automobile, meaning there’s one on every corner. This is actually one of the best reasons to buy a popular brand of car or truck. For instance, if you need a side mirror for a Ford F-150, you can find them anywhere. Easy peasy.

Besides stores, you can check out your local car dealer. If they are one of the major car dealers, they can usually get parts very easily. However, be aware that these will be the most expensive car parts you may ever buy.  Simple parts like a tail light or stock floor mats can empty your wallet really quickly. However, if you really need the part and cannot find it anywhere else, the dealer may be the best place to go.

Buying Car Parts at a Salvage Yard

If you live near an auto salvage yard, you may be in luck. You can usually go to these “junk yards” and pull the parts you need yourself. Great, if they have the year, make, and model you are looking for. I would suggest you call the junkyard before heading over.  Ask them if they have the parts you are looking for.  If they give you a hard time or say they do not catalog any parts, you are on your own. Also, ask if they charge a fee just to enter the yard.  Some places charge a nominal fee of about two dollars just to get in. Other places charge upwards of 10 dollars.

Be prepared to get dirty, really dirty. You are going to invest blood, sweat, and probably tears to get the parts you need, but this is the lowest prices you are likely to find for the parts you need.

Buying Car Parts Online

There is a neat little store online called You can find nearly anything there. However, be careful and make sure the part fits your exact make and model of your vehicle. You can get some great deals here, but online stores can have the second-highest prices (just below dealerships).  Shipping can be expensive too. You may be able to get a new bumper for a good price, but shipping can cost an arm and a leg.

Of course, there is also online auction sites like eBay, but this can be risky. Sometimes sellers can send damaged parts or even the wrong parts. This can happen anywhere, but online auction sites tend to have a higher risk factor.


There are many places to buy car parts. I have not covered them all here. But just be open-minded to the different options. It is likely the part you need is out there, and at a reasonable price.

Written by Gary Pradel