Finding the right parts for your truck can make the difference between safe driving, non-compliance fines, and ending up in a disastrous accident. As a driver or a fleet manager, it’s important to replace damaged parts as soon as possible but that’s not always convenient or affordable. You might be in a remote area, or your funds may be inadequate.
The first thing you need to do is identify the exact part that you require and confirm what year your car was manufactured. It also helps to confirm which country or county your truck was assembled in. This matters because some car designers tweak their models to suit specific weather patterns or road regulations.
For example, cars in low emission countries may have special environmentally friendly filters, while cars in the US are mostly left-hand drive. These small differences can end up being huge when it comes to truck parts. Here are a few other suggestions on finding original, compliant, appropriate truck parts.
- Take a photo of the part
Even if you know what the part is and how it fits, take a photo just to be sure. This can be helpful if you have to send someone to look for the part. It’s especially useful for drivers, because you can text or email the photo around to your contacts. That way, someone further along your truck route might spot the right part and keep it for you. Photos will also help you distinguish similar parts by size, grade, or region. Make sure the photo is well lit by using the flash feature on your camera phone.
- Check your car-maker’s website
The first and best source for any truck part is the vehicle manufacturer. If you can’t visit one of their authorised dealers in person, you can visit their website. Many websites have tailored sub-domains for clients in Australia and New Zealand. These sites will be more specific in their information and may give a list of partners and distributors that you can check. Original parts are expensive though, so carefully check your budgets first.
- Join an online forum or group
Websites aren’t the only place you can source parts online. Lots of social media platforms have groups, channels, and forums dedicated to specific car models. These forums are populated by owners, drivers, and garages that specialise in your kind of truck. You may find parts sellers within the forum, or leads on where you can access what you need. Since the forums are populated by largely verifiable people, you’ll find accurate reviews as well.
- Get familiar with junk yard diving
Every neighbourhood has a junk yard, and as you drive around the country, you’ll bump into more than your fair share. During your down time, make it a habit to look around these yards. They’re a good source for low-cost truck parts, and if you get friendly with owners and known scavengers, they can give you a call when they bump into any truck parts you might be interested in. You can find lots of other truck paraphernalia at junk yards too.
- Carry the right tools
‘Shopping’ in a junk yard isn’t a linear process. You don’t generally find the parts you need lined up and neatly labelled. If you have a good relationship with the junk yard owner, he might set parts aside for you to look at when you pass by. But ordinarily, you have to stroll through the junked cars to see if there’s anything of interest, and that could take hours. When you do find a good part, it may still be attached to a written-off truck, so make sure you have the right tools to extract the part you want from the wreck.
- Always carry small denominations
Similarly, if all you want is a single part from a broken down truck, it’s not likely to cost you very much. Most vehicular junk yard residents were headed for the recycle bin or the scrap metal pile. In that state, the compacted cars sell by the kilo, so there’s no real interest in individual parts. When you spot, dismantle, and pick the part you want, the junk yard owner will probably let you have it for a few dollars, maybe even for free. Carry small notes to make his life easier, so that he doesn’t have to make change for a $4 sale.
- Ask your mechanic for advice
Another good source of parts is your mechanic, or your regular garage. They are the car parts experts and can probably tell you where to find everything from a specific shade of paint to an obscure carburettor. They can also use their connections to get you’re a discount. Once the part comes in, they can inspect it to make sure it’s up to scratch and install it for you. Beyond that, mechanics can alert you to potential parts repairs and replacements during their routine maintenance work, so you get a heads up on the parts you’ll soon need.
- Look through your local directory
Nobody really uses the yellow pages anymore, but you can still review the local equivalent. Small municipalities might still have a regional newspaper, advertorial, or bulletin board where service providers are listed. This can be helpful if you’re far from home. Use neighbourhood news outlets and social grapevines to discover the best place for parts.
- Go to Google
Nowadays, the online equivalent of the village gossip is Google, and it’s quite the know-it-all. With a quick Google search, you could go as macro as confirming whether a specific part is still in production, or as micro as finding a parts trader in your locality. Use search tips to get the most out of your Google experience and you’re sure to find the parts you need no matter where you are in Australia. All you need is a mobile phone signal and an internet connection.
- Find a reliable after-parts dealer
Aftermarket parts still offer the best source of truck parts. They’re affordable and widely available, especially for cross-country truckers. Stick to aftermarket parts suppliers who have wide distribution chains. Their vast network makes it easier for them to source original manufacturer parts at user-friendly prices. Their trusted channels also increase the likelihood of you finding the exact part you want.