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Buying painted auto body parts

September 03, 2019 6 min read

It’s happened to all of us, and some more often than others. You hit a pole while backing out, knock your bumper off trying to switch lanes, or knock your side view mirror off getting to the ATM – leaving it shattered and hanging by a couple of wires.

While you want to make sure the other person takes full responsibility of the damages when someone else damages your car, when you damage your own car, there’s nobody to blame but, frankly, yourself. That’s when the option of buying painted auto body parts comes into play. Is it a viable option? Will it save you money? What are the possible pitfalls? Let’s try to tackle these points here.

When you damage your car in a minor accident, most people will take it straight to the dealership or body shop. However, money conscious individuals want to make sure they find the most cost-effective way to fix their car without breaking the bank. This usually boils down to purchasing your own auto body part and then taking it to the shop to save on parts cost, or even installing the part themselves to save on labor costs.

Replacement options – OEM or aftermarket?

There are basically three options to choose from when buying car parts:

  • Buy the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) car part straight from the dealership. You get the original part, just as if you had never gotten into an accident. However, it doesn’t come painted and you’ll need to find a paint and body shop to do the work or paint it yourself.  
  • Buy the aftermarket car part from your local auto body shop, online, or through a wholesale distributor. There are different types of certifications for these aftermarket parts that will determine the standards, quality, and durability of these parts. They usually come primed (which means their ready for painting), but do not come painted. So, you’ll also need to find a paint and body shop to paint the part for you or do it yourself.
  • Buy the aftermarket car part painted from online stores. These car parts come painted and you will need to install the part.

Why choose painted auto body parts?

Buying painted car parts, the latter option, is becoming more popular as do-it-yourself (DIY) becomes more of a norm and consumers try to save money. In an era where consumers spend more time on the internet, YouTube, and Pinterest than any other medium, you’ll find proactive individuals trying to learn how to maximize their money and cut down on costs. This is where painted auto body parts become such a phenomenon. By purchasing painted parts, the consumer can save up to 70% compared to going to the local dealership.

Where does this saving come from? Well for starters, OEM car parts can cost 100% or more when compared to aftermarket car parts. On top of that, OEM parts do not come painted so you’ll have to get paint quotes and prices from a few places, like your dealership and a couple of paint and body shops. The paint and labor costs will vary by store and location.

Painted auto body parts online, however, usually has a set price. You know what you’re paying for, and the price does not change based on your insurance, deductible, or how much you’re willing to spend. Online retailers try to keep their pricing as accurate as possible.

Convenience plays another large part when choosing to order painted auto body parts. You’re not stuck without a car for days while it’s sitting in a queue at the body shop, and there’s no need for a rental car. Instead, you drive your car around until your painted auto body part comes in, and you can install the car part at your convenience – whether it’s right in your own garage or taking it to your trusted body shop.

Changing out an auto body part is easier than you might think. Simply unscrew a few bolts and brackets, and you can easily replace the painted auto body part yourself. But, if you really aren’t comfortable with cars, just take it to a body shop and they’ll install for you.

Common myths about purchasing painted auto body parts

While painted car parts is becoming more popular, many consumers still shy away from the idea due to misconceptions about these car parts.

Paint will not match

The most common and #1 reason for not buying a painted car part online is the concern about color-matching and paint blending. When you take your car to a body shop, you assume they see what your car looks like, so they’ll be able to color match your car better. Also, painters will tell you how you need to blend the paint from the new car part to the rest of your car so it can match. They will tell you that blending is necessary so that you cannot tell when one paint job ended and another started, so it will look like one cohesive job. This is NOT true in every case.

Paint color matching is hugely dependent on the type and quality of paint. If you use cheaper quality paint or the wrong type of paint, they’ll often have generic colors and a few shades in between. You pick the one closest to the color of the car you’re working on and blend the rest in order to trick the eye into seeing a cohesive paint job. Higher-quality paint and more complex paint systems take your vehicle’s specific year, make and model into account to generate a paint code most likely to resemble your factory paint after years of aging and sun exposure. With specificity in superior quality paint, you’ll get a painted auto body part so close in color to the rest of your car that you won’t need any paint blending and you still won’t even be able to tell the difference.

Damaged during shipping or handling

While damages do occur during shipping and handling, many reputable painted auto body part suppliers have insurance on your item. This means that any damages incurred are covered, and they will happily send you a new car part as soon as you take the necessary steps to claim the damages. The only downfall is the extended time it might take to resolve these claims and receive the new car part.

Getting reliable customer care

Most painted auto body parts suppliers are online. So, what happens when you’re not satisfied with your car part, it doesn’t fit your car, or your paint starts coming off after only a few weeks? With the purchase made online, you’re afraid you might not be able to get the customer service or care you deserve. What if they leave you $500 out, and you can’t get a single customer service representative on the phone?

This issue also boils down to one thing – if you’re ordering from a reputable online store, they’ll be there to help you. So, before you purchase your painted auto body parts, make sure they have a working phone number, email or live chat on their website so you know you can get help when you need it. If they’re active on social media, that’s even better.

What’s the verdict? – To buy or not to buy

If you’re looking to save some money and time, painted auto body parts is a viable option. As long as you’re purchasing your car parts from a trusted online store, you’ve really got nothing to lose.

But, don’t go buying painted auto body parts for your entire car after you’ve gotten into a wreck. If your car sustained a lot of damage, chances are you’ll need to do more to your car than just replace the fender or bumper. It may need some body work on the structure and frame. In this case, you’re better off taking your car to a collision shop or dealership and getting it properly fixed for your safety.

Remember…

Before you purchase painted auto body parts from any of the stores listed, remember to consider the following:

  • What type of paint do they use? Will it last? Are there any warranties or guarantees?
  • What are their return policies?
  • Are their painted car parts insured during shipping? Are they properly boxed or folded?
  • What happens if the paint doesn’t match my car?
  • How are their painted part reviews?

Make sure you purchase your painted auto body parts from a reputable store, and you’ll be able to save time and money – making your online painted auto part search worth it in the long run.