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Tips for Buying Parts Online - Chevys In Cyberspace

A Look At Some Great Chevy Exits Along The Information Superhighway

Barry Kluczyk May 1, 2001
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Whether you're looking for something as relatively common as restoration parts for your Chevy II or need to know information more obscure, like how many Monza Mirages were built, chances are you'll find it on the Internet.

If you can wade through all the Brittney Spears and 'N Sync Web sites, the Internet is a virtual treasure trove of resources. And no matter where your Chevy-specific needs or interests lie, a few minutes at the keyboard will likely produce positive results.

If you're a novice in cyberspace, you'll find search engines, such as Yahoo!, valuable tools for navigating the World Wide Web. Keep narrow parameters, however, as the shear number of Chevy-oriented sites can make your search an otherwise lengthy process. For example, instead of searching for "Chevy parts," try "Chevelle restoration parts." You'll have better luck and immediately weed out more general sites.

Another great tip for finding helpful and reputable sites is finding a site that caters to your particular interest, such as an online club or organization that specializes in your car. Often, these sites have links to trusted online sources, as well as message boards from fellow enthusiasts. It's easy to post a query about parts or a particular vendor and receive replies quickly.

We've spent a lot of time behind our PC, cruising the Internet for interesting and helpful Web sites. What follows is a list of some of the better ones we've found. Better still, most offer links to other great sites, so consider this list a spring board into Chevys on the Internet.

Good luck with your searches.

Buying Online:
Let the Cyber-shopper BewareWithout a doubt, shopping online for your parts needs can be a rewarding, time-saving experience. But you're not haggling over a dirty part at the swap meet, nor can you pick up a part an examine it before purchase. Here are some guidelines to make your online buying experience safe, secure, and easy:

Buy From Known, Reputable Companies:
The World Wide Web has been compared to the Wild West-an unfamiliar frontier with a few bandits behind the tumbleweeds. Be wary of Internet companies that you've never heard of, especially if they're Internet-only companies that don't offer phone numbers, a mailing address, or even a real showroom. Be suspicious if the only given address is a post office box.

When In Doubt, Ask Around:
If you're unfamiliar with an Internet supplier, ask about it on a message board or in a chat room. Word of mouth from other enthusiasts can be helpful before ordering those parts. Conversely, fellow enthusiasts will be quick to steer you away from disreputable sources.

Shop Around:
Just because something is advertised online doesn't make it a good deal. Comparison-shop the parts with other online sources or even mail-order catalogs. Also, ask questions about the item, especially if it's on sale, such as: Is the item brand new or reconditioned? Is it the current model year or last year's? What is the return policy if it arrives damaged?

Be Specific:
Just like mail-order, Internet shopping means you can't pick up the part first and test-fit it before buying, so it's imperative that you know exactly what you're ordering. That goes double when ordering from a salvage yard. Don't make assumptions about year-to-year interchangeability. If you or the seller is unsure, don't buy a "close enough" part.

Paying For It:
This is where most prospective buyers get spooked, but buying over the Internet is just as safe as phoning in a mail-order transaction. Reputable sites will have encryption devices that secure your personal information, such as your credit card number. Look for lock or key symbols on the Web site or email them and ask about their security measures. Another option is finding the part online, but phoning in the order. Many companies offer telephone order options if you don't want to key in your credit card number.

Buying From A Private Party:
Many enthusiasts sell used parts on bulletin boards, auction sites, such as Ebay, or from their personal Web sites. This often requires a leap of faith on the buyer's part, as the seller will probably insist on a cashier's check or money order before sending the part. If you're comfortable with making such a transaction, be sure you know the part will fit your car. Ask the seller to describe the part in great detail, including casting numbers or other identifying marks, because these are usually "no return" transactions. Finally, keep in mind that the seller's idea of "mint condition" may be light years away from yours, so the pristine part you expect to get may be a little worse for wear.

Record Your Transaction:
Print out the order page you filled out online as a record of the transaction. If there's a problem later on, you'll have the hard copy of the order to refer to. If you feel a company has acted in bad faith, there are several online agencies that can offer assistance. The Better Business Bureau has a Web site and has taken a keen interest in online shopping problems.

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