If you want to get parts for cheap, you’re going to have to work for it!
By Elizabeth Puckett
When I first started working on my car, I was paying a massive amount for the loan payment and insurance, and working with a budget that really wasn’t even there. Yet somehow, without bumming money from my parents (who I didn’t even live with when I bought my car), I managed to make it work because I quickly figured out the ‘right’ way to buy car parts. Let me also point out that I don’t buy cheap parts, I buy name brand parts and get them for cheap. This has nothing to do with working in the industry; the thought of dropping my own name makes me cringe.
12 years later, I’m still using these little tricks, and I save about 15%-25% on every part I buy — my friends usually make me put their cart together for them when they buy parts too. I’m like one of those crazy extreme coupon ladies, except that I’m shopping for car parts instead of a lifetime supply of mustard. Here are my main ways of getting parts for as little as possible.
1. Coupon Codes
This is my favorite one, if I find a good coupon code, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Not all parts store advertise that there’s a coupon code out there, so you’ll have to do some leg work. I suggest signing up for their newsletters/mailing list since they use the codes as an incentive to sign up. However, if you haven’t already and you’re ready to checkout, just do a quick search and see what you can find. If people have found a good coupon code in a mailer or newsletter, they’re probably going to share it somewhere, so keep an eye out.
I know, I know, this is obvious, right? But it needs to be said! Wait for a sale to buy parts; it hurts to wait, but you’ll save money. Parts stores like to wait until particular periods to offer discounts and sales. Their biggest sales are going to come during that Black Friday to New Years Eve period, just like any other retailer. During this time, you can almost always count on free shipping from every online store, discount codes, and flash sales. This is another time when being on the mailing list will help you out.
Also, clearance and scratch & dent are the best; I bought a $600 clutch kit for $150 since it was a display model at a certain racing equipment store, and then applied discount points I had with my account, coming out to be about $100.
3. Group Discounts
Back when forums were a bigger deal, pre Facebook invasion, members would routinely get together and approach brands with the prospects of group buys. So when you’re ready to buy that snazzy aftermarket front splitter for your car, see if you can get a group of people together who are ready to buy as well.
Put your Facebook and Twitter accounts to good use and get the word out, post in groups, and so on. If you’re still active on any forums, try there too, and ask around in your car club. Once you’ve gotten the group together, call the sales manager and tell them how many people want to buy what parts and see what they’ll give you.
4. Just Ask!
When I was ready to put an aftermarket cam in my car, I wanted to shop with a particular parts retailer who I had good experiences with in the past. This place is a bit higher than other parts retailers, and their shipping was pretty high on the parts. After shopping around and finding that they didn’t have the best price on the cam, I almost bought from someone else — then I shot them an email explaining that I want to purchase from them, but X store had the cam for a good bit less. They replied with a price match, plus a 10% discount, and free shipping — how cool is that? Since I’ve figured this out, I’ve made a bit of a habit out of it.
The way I see it is, all they can do is tell me no, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they did, it’s just business. At the same time, when I do get discounts direct from the sales managers, I make it a point to refer everyone I meet to their store for parts.
Quick Tip: Know what you’re paying for before you go into the situation, or get a detailed estimate on the parts before you buy. Sometimes there are crate fees, boxing fees, etc. that you can get waived right off the top before any other discounts are applied.
5. How You Checkout Matters
So you’re armed with all of these discounts and savings, but you can easily blow it if you don’t handle it correctly. Most stores aren’t going to let you use multiple forms of discounts when you check out, so you’re going to have to circumvent the system a little.
Let’s say that I’ve got a coupon code for $40 off of $100 or more, I won’t get a discount past that first 100 bucks, right? I will if I split up the cart into two orders! That way I can use my discount on the first $100, use it again on other parts if they total up to $100, or use percentage discounts on the rest of the order. Same goes if you’ve gotten a group discount, or special discount on a part from the manufacturer; sometimes adding things on to a special order can complicate the process, then all of the sudden the shipping gets added back on, etc., so I like to keep those separate.
I wanted to close by urging you to be polite and be a good customer. If you call up a parts store demanding a discount and acting like a jerk, you aren’t going to get a discount, and you’re going to stress out the salesperson, there’s absolutely no need for that. Alternatively, if you are told no after being polite and courteous, don’t try to go over the salesperson and speak with their manager, don’t get rude; either buy the parts at the price, or move on! Absolutely no manufacturer, brand, or retailer owes any of us a discount, so stay humble about it.
If you have any of your personal tricks for discounts, please leave them in the comments!