Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that cars and car parts have gotten really expensive, and not to mention hard to find. Thanks to supply chain issues due to the pandemic, over the past year we’ve found that parts through OEMs or wholesalers are either out of stock, delayed, or – if you can find them – 40 to 50% more than they would have cost just a year prior.

Not a good recipe for running an auto business like ours.

If increased costs and supply chain issues weren’t enough, scammer have moved into the fray with a growing proliferation of fake parts in the used parts marketplace, and whether they’re in on the scam or not your local wrecker, used parts dealers, and OEMs alike have been known to sell phony auto parts to the public.

For those repair shops or custom auto shops like ours struggling with keeping parts in stocks, and jobs moving forward, here’s some tricks and tips that have worked for the techs at TopSpeedMods.com in getting the most out our parts dollars while not getting ripped off.

Go With a Reputable Supplier

When it comes to the car industry, reputation is everything.

Same goes with car parts.  While a fly-by-night online website may have the part you need at a great price, there’s a very good chance you would be buying a Chinese made knock-off.

Avoid the temptation.

Great customer service, money-back guarantees, warranty programs, and a healthy number of years in the business indicate a trustworthy supplier, but don’t stop there.

As a tight knit community of car shops in the Minneapolis, MN we rely on like-minded business for advice on suppliers as well, and there’s nothing like feedback from actual customers you know to be assured that the supplier, OEM, or scrapyard is reputable.

Aftermarket Auto Parts Vs Fake

There is a common misconception in the public regarding the viability of so-called “Aftermarket Parts”.  Not produced directly by the OEM, but rather by a trusted supplier that meet or exceeded the manufacturers part specs, a good aftermarket part is often on par, or better, than the OEM producing the genuine part.

A fake part, on the other hand, is one that simply does not meet manufacturer specifications. Sometimes by a little, but sometimes by a lot.  Mostly made overseas in China, these pirateers are drawn to the ridiculous margins of auto parts sales, which in some case exceed those of illegal narcotics.

While in years past, it was easier to tell a fake from a high-quality part, those days are long gone as the counterfeit manufacturers have gotten quite good at visually matching the part to the OEM part, right down to the SKU and part number stamp.

Although this degradation in part quality may not seem apparent just by looking at it, the life of the part will unquestionably be impacted.

So whether it’s brake pads, car seats, spark plugs, or engine blocks, there are plenty of good Aftermarket Parts suppliers for nearly any part you need.  As stated in the section above, make sure you do your homework with selecting a preferred supplier.

Do Your Due Diligence

According to a 2018 study by the United States Federal Trade Commission the counterfeit auto-parts market was estimated to be worth US$20 billion dollars, and has likely grown much larger since then.

The issue has become – in a word, pervasive.

Since supply chains have tightened, it’s been necessary to look beyond traditional manufacturers to find new avenues of supply in order to keep small auto shops like our running.  As such it requires a proactive approach in vetting any potential candidates.

One of the best ways to check an auto part’s authenticity before making a purchase is to ask the seller for documentation that proves the part is genuine. This could include a certificate of authenticity or a manufacturers’ warranty. If the seller cannot provide this documentation, it’s likely that the part is fake.

Another way to check an auto part’s authenticity is to compare it to an existing, authentic part. This can be done by taking pictures of both parts and posting them online for others to compare. There are also many online resources that can help you identify fake auto parts, such as websites and forums that focus on automotive repair.

If you’re still unsure whether or not a particular auto part is fake, it’s best to contact the manufacturer to verify. Many companies, such as Toyota and Honda, offer their own websites where you can submit photos of fake or aftermarket auto parts and receive a conclusion almost immediately.

Consider Using Wreckers / Scrapyard

Although often overlooked, junkyard, wreckers, and scrapyards are a great place to find parts in a pinch. Usually much cheaper than buying new, finding parts from a wrecker takes a little bit of luck, and some elbow grease (be prepared to bring your own tools and to remove the parts yourself), but for those hard-to-find parts or costly body panels, it’s well worth the effort.

A wrecker visit can take a lot of time, so be sure to come prepared ask to what you’re looking for.  Call ahead, and have the part number, model, make, and VIN, handy as well as a searchable comprehensive parts catalog database (like this one) to find similar models in case they don’t have the exact car your looking for on site.  If you need a good wrecker / towing service in Minneapolis, give our friends at Timber Towing & Recovery a call, they’ve been great to work with since we’ve started in the business back in 2004.

Go Forth And Mod In Confidence!

So there you have it – hopefully this helps give you a leg up on the supply chain crisis and in fulfilling those lingering orders from customers who are waiting for their high-quality mods! Thanks for reading, and happy hunting!