If you’ve been taken aback by the cost of parts and repairs at your local garage or main dealer, you won’t be surprised to hear that shopping around will usually get you a better deal. The internet makes such bargain hunting easy, and the prices you can find are sometimes amazingly low. Plenty of websites are competing for your custom and they will make it as easy as possible to help you choose the right components for your car, with registration number look-ups, pictures, and diagrams to compare to the parts you are replacing. They will also usually offer a variety of brands, ranging from the budget to better-known brands.
Once you have chosen, the parts will be sent direct to your door. You can fit them yourself, or there are many independent garages and mechanics who will fit owner-supplied parts and just charge you for labour.
With so many different choices on offer, it can be bewildering, so we’ve run the numbers and surfed the sites to find the best.
How we tested them
First, we chose a ‘basket’ of five parts that could be fitted by a keen and competent DIY mechanic: filters for oil and pollen, a front suspension arm, brake pads and an exhaust rear silencer. We priced them up on each of the sites for five cars, ranging from a Fiat Panda to a Land Rover Discovery. An average was then calculated.
We always used the price of the cheapest listed item, but gave extra points if the site offered a wider range of options. We also checked the delivery cost and scored the sites for ease of use.
Before you wield a spanner to fix your car, it’s well worth clicking a mouse to save costs and ensure you get the right parts.
We were genuinely amazed at some of the prices we found during our test, but it’s still worth shopping around for all the bits you need. You may also need to juggle the delivery cost with the discounts to find the best overall deal across a few sites.
We’d start with Onlinecarparts, which offered good choice, decent site functionality, low prices and an attractive return option. Parts In Motion would have been up for the top spot if it had offered more choice and a slicker site, but as it is, it ends up with the silver medal. eBay is not the easiest way to buy parts, but the prices are too low to be ignored, so it takes third place here.
- Parts In Motion
- Basket price: £90.90
- Delivery: Free (orders over £140) or £8.45
- Rating: 5/5 stars
- Website: Online Car Parts
This site and www.autodoc.co.uk 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.
- Basket price: £81.88
- Delivery: Free or £4.99 next day
- Rating: 4.5/5 stars
- Website: Parts In Motion
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Although Parts In Motion didn’t have the cheapest price on any single item, its basket total was very competitive and delivery is free if you don’t mind waiting a few days for Royal Mail 2nd Class post.
It’s worth leaving a comment in the order ‘notes’ section or using the Live Chat function to ask for advice, because the company will cover the cost of returns if the part does not fit. Our only disappointment is that the listings are hard to compare, with no price ranking and huge pictures, which make you scroll. There’s not as much choice as with our winner, either.
- Basket price: £75.22
- Delivery: Varies
- Rating: 4/5 stars
- Website: eBay
eBay is very different to the usual retailers, because you may have to buy from multiple sources rather than from one, if you need a selection of parts.
You are also offered used and reconditioned components – which may be an attractive idea for some parts, but clearly not for service items like filters and brakes. Finding the right bits also takes time, because you need to be sure of your car’s details and the registration look-up is not the clearest or most reliable. You have to wade through listings for irrelevant tools and trims too. But battle through and there are some very cheap prices.
- Basket price: £86.96
- Delivery: Free (over £25) 2-3 days
- Rating: 4/5 stars
- Website: GSF Car Parts
For service items, GSF had prices that were so cheap that we had to double check them. For example, a set of Brembo brake pads for our Panda cost just £6.10, and a Discovery pollen filter was a remarkable £5.52. You do need to go through the rigmarole of applying a discount code to see the best offer, though.
Other parts prices were more mid-table, however, meaning GSF didn’t work out as lowest overall for our basket. When we looked at bigger items, such as exhausts, there was little or no choice too. Delivery is free if your order costs more than £25, or you can collect from one of GSF’s 180 stores.
- Basket price: £110.39
- Delivery: Free (over £140) or £8.45
- Rating: 3.5/5 stars
- Website: Online Automotive
Online Automotive proudly said it was offering ‘up to 85% off all car parts’ when we visited, so we were a bit disappointed that the prices for our basket weren’t lower. As well as a higher average than our winners, it also didn’t have the lowest single price for any part.
The benefit might come if you need a smaller or cheaper product, though, because 1-2 day delivery costs a reasonable £2.95 and there’s the option to click and collect from Asda stores nationwide. The site itself is clear and well laid out, with a decent selection of parts on offer. However, we found it could be slow to load.
- Basket price: £131.45 (excluding voucher codes)
- Delivery: Free (over £30) or £5.95 next day
- Rating: 3/5 stars
- Website: CarParts4less
Carparts4less has some great features on its site, but the prices seem to have leapt up since our last test, while the functionality has faltered. The look-up feature is slick, but once the parts for your car are displayed, you must play games to outwit the lists and find the best deal. The page doesn’t put the cheapest items first, or even those which are in stock, hiding the deals further down the page.
Once you’ve managed to find them, the prices are disappointing. While the site was competitive for the service parts, the suspension arms and exhaust were the most expensive in our basket.
- Basket price: £131.45
- Delivery: Free (over £25)
- Rating: 2.5/5 stars
- Website: Euro Car Parts
Euro Car Parts and Carparts4less are actually the same business with different online ‘shop fronts’. That means the price of our basket of parts on both sites was the same, but ECP seems to have dropped its sister site’s confusing ‘enter code’ special discounts and kept things uncomplicated.
This makes it simpler to understand the prices, but it also means you are paying more than the discounted prices on the sister site. To make up for that, ECP offers free delivery on all purchases over £25, whereas it’s £30 for Carparts4less. Even with that, the prices are way too high for ECP to be in with a chance in this test.
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