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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

How to Buy Classic Car Parts on eBay

Untitled-2It is no secret that owning a classic car or truck and restoring it back to its original beauty is a rewarding endeavor. Project cars typically take years to fully restore and can often present some challenges along the way.

One of the biggest challenges can be locating original replacement parts depending on the vehicle you are restoring. Typically the older the vehicle is, the harder it is to find the right parts. Some classic cars from the 60s and 70s were produced in large numbers so parts are easy to find. Other cars are so popular to restore that many companies are starting to remake all the old parts. On the other hand if you are trying to restore an antique from the earlier years of last century, you are likely going to have to hunt for parts.

Regardless of the vehicle, eBay is a great place to start your search for car parts. You can even buy the entire car in some cases! eBay has eBay Motors that even has a section specific to collector cars.

There are a few different ways to start your search for classic car parts on eBay. It all comes down to personal preference as to which method makes the most sense to you.

The quickest way to get started is to simply type in your search term into the search field on the top of their home page. You can make your search very broad like “Classic Car Parts” if you are just browsing or you can search for the specific part you are looking for like a “1940 Mercury Glove Box Door”. eBay is usually smart enough to send their shoppers to the correct category. Sometimes these items may be listed in other categories however like the “Collectible” category, but for most of your searching you will be within eBay Motors.

Another way to browse and search for items is to dive directly into the categories. Start in the eBay Motors “Parts & Accessories” category and go from there. You can then keep selecting categories until you have narrowed your search. Many of the harder to find parts will be in the “Vintage Car & Truck Parts” category. This is a great place to start for all those rare pieces. You can then continue to narrow your search by auto brand, price, interior, exterior, etc.

The real key to finding what you want is to know what you are looking for. It sounds simple enough, but you always need to double check that what you are buying is what you need. For example, certain cars even from the same year may have been equipped with different engines and therefore would require different air filters. This is a simple example, but you can imagine how specific your search may need to be in order to find the right part.

eBay Motors’ subcategories are broken down into vehicle systems. To make your search more successful it helps to know what these categories are likely to include. Here is a quick overview of some of the bigger system categories and what you are likely to find in each.

Exterior – Bumpers, grilles, mirrors, trunk lids, emblems

Interior – Dash parts, pedals, steering wheels, switches and controls

Engines and Components – Belts, crankshafts, pistons, vacuum pumps

Lighting and Lamps – Headlights, instrument panel lights, light bulbs, turn signals

Wheels, Tires, and Hub Caps – Rims, hubs, bearings, spinners

Additionally, car systems and example items include

Air Conditioning and Heating: compressors, belts

Air Intake and Fuel Delivery: air filters, carburetors

Brakes: pedals, brake pads

Charging and Starting: alternators, solenoids

Cooling: radiators, fans

Exhaust: mufflers, tailpipes

Ignition: distributors, spark plugs

Suspension and Steering: steering wheels, worm gears, shocks, struts

Transmission and Drivetrain: clutches, speedometer cables

There are also subcategories within each of these listed above. For example, within Interiors there is yet another subcategory for just “Steering Wheels & Horns”. It is helpful to remember however that you are still under “Vintage Car & Truck Parts” so you will only see those parts for older vehicles.

Once you have found an item to buy from the search results you can then click on that item to take a closer look at additional photos and read the detailed description. You can also see all shipping details, read about the seller’s return policy and learn more about any considerations you might take on the part you are wanting to buy.

Buying parts for classic cars and especially antique cars takes special considerations like the condition of the part. If it is original then it is the same age as your vehicle and may have been exposed to wear and tear that time and the elements impose. Pay close attention to the description and photos to determine the exact condition of the part. If you cannot fully answer this question then feel free to contact the seller and ask. You are better off asking open ended questions rather than yes-or-no questions so that the seller must elaborate.

Evaluating the seller’s reputation on eBay is also important. For each eBay account there is data about the sales they have conducted. Their username, the number of sales they have had and an overall satisfaction percentage they have received from their buyers. The satisfaction score is determined from feedback of previous buyers. It is a good thing to see a seller that has had a good amount of sales and a high customer satisfaction rating. If you want more information, you can click on the username, which is linked to the seller’s profile page. You can then view detailed seller ratings, comments from buyers and sellers, and other items for sale from the same user.

When dealing on eBay, be sure to leave feedback for buyers and sellers after each transaction is completed. By doing so, you help the eBay community and other buyers like you by letting them know which users provide good service and products.

Vintage parts for classic cars and antiques can be hard to come by, but with the power of the Internet this task has never been easier. There are other online parts stores and sites that allow selling and trading, but eBay is usually the first place people start their search. With just a few clicks classic car owners can now be mere moments away from finding a rare part. In the past this could have taken days, weeks months or even years.

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