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Can You Buy OEM Auto Parts Online and Bring Them to a Mechanic to Install?

Thanks to the internet and the increasing sophistication of automotive parts marketing, it’s now become possible to buy OEM auto parts online and bring them in to your shop or mechanic for installation. Seems like a quick and easy way to save some cash but just because you can buy genuine OEM parts online doesn’t mean it’s always easy get them installed.

In today’s quick article, we’ll take a look at some of the potential pitfalls, as well as benefits, that you may encounter when buying your own auto parts online and then bringing in for repair. 

Charging More. Doing Less.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, some shops and mechanics claim that there’s a surcharge for bringing in your own parts for your repair. According to one poster on a popular automotive repair forum, the customer was assessed an additional fifteen an hour fee for bringing in his own parts. The shop’s rationale was that if he got “the wrong parts, or the parts… are defective, that it will create more of a hassle for them – thus validating the extra charge.” But, is it typical and/or justified for a shop to charge extra labor to install parts bought online?

Should You Pay More for Less?

The advice of almost everyone on the forum was to run for the hills and find a better shop — a standpoint that we’re inclined to agree with. Clearly, this is not “good” behavior, but it doesn’t mean it’s not something that’s becoming more and more common. All you have to do is stop by an automotive repair shop forum to see that charging more is just one strategy among others used by shops looking to make the most money per customer.  One mechanic in particular writes the following (which tells you all you need to know about the subject):

I have tried all manners of handling the call, accept the customer part, charge a higher labor rate, make them sign a waiver acknowledging they supplied the part and there is NO WARRANTY, to explaining the liability and warranty provided if my shop obtains and supplies the part.

In short, it’s pretty clear that shops want to charge you more for less but the only conceivable way that additional labor surcharges could be justified would be in the case that installers intend to warranty the parts brought in. Not surprisingly, as seen in the quote above, this just doesn’t seem to be the case. And, why would it? As long as you’re buying real OEM car parts online from reputable sources, they are already typically warranted against defects for at least 12 months.

The Right Part for the Right Mechanic

Clearly, you can save money without sacrificing quality when you buy OEM auto parts online and have a shop install them but that’s only half the battle. Once you have your genuine part (with the manufacturer’s warranty) you then need to find a shop or mechanic who will install it. In general, your best bet is to find a smaller shop or shade-tree mechanic to install your part. These types of shops generally want to cultivate a long-term relationship with their customers and will be more willing to work with you if you decide to bring your own parts.

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, there are definitely pros and cons to having a shop secure the parts and install them versus bring your own. Ultimately, though, it makes sense for the cost-conscious consumer to buy OEM replacements online and find someone to install them.  The only real caveat (and this is REALLY important) is that you buy real OEM auto parts online, which already come with a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. Sure, you might have to pay for labor again in the unlikely event that the part fails, but if the savings are enough, it can be worth it. Plus, OEM auto parts are more reliable anyway. Sure, it annoys dealerships and service centers, but they can either make some money on labor or, you can go elsewhere, and they’ll make nothing at all.

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