Online auto parts purchasers not experts, says

March 27, 2014
A new study from reveals that online parts-purchasing consumers are far from gear heads and that women are online auto parts buyers.

As consumers are opting to purchase auto parts online, a new study from reveals that these parts-purchasing consumers are far from gear heads and that women are also showing up online to buy auto parts.

While the majority surveyed identified as ‘Occasional DIYers’ (Do It Yourself) or ‘DIFMers’ (Do it For Me) with basic knowledge about the parts of their vehicles, the average auto parts purchaser is not completely clueless: most claimed they could identify and understand the function of basic auto parts such as batteries and oil filters, with over half able to identify more complex parts. Over one third of female online parts purchasers, however, consider themselves knowledgeable or expert.

The snapshot survey, conducted among over 700 online auto parts shoppers on auto parts websites from November 2013 to February 2014, also revealed that, overall, these parts purchasers are going online to save time and money, and to access inventory.

“As this survey reveals, online auto parts purchasing is going mainstream – meaning you don’t have to be an expert to buy an auto part online -- and most aren’t; yet this consumer is generally savvy enough to identify basic key parts of their vehicles and to comparison shop for parts,” said CEO Shane Evangelist. “These consumers also want to save money, and purchasing parts at online auto sites is how they say they are doing it.’ “Online Auto Parts Shopper ‘Knowledge’ Report” Highlights:

Knowledgeable in the Basics, but not Expert

Nearly half (48%) of those shopping online for parts identified themselves as either an Occasional DIYer or a DIFMer. And, while only 8% overall said they considered themselves clueless, more (39%) said they only knew the basics of the parts of their vehicle and their function, than claimed to be ‘knowledgeable’.

How knowledgeable would you say you are about the parts of your car and what their function is?

     Overall   Frequent DIYER Occasional DIYER     DIFMer

I know only the basics (engine, transmission, brakes, etc.)  

     39%        28%                      54%                               56%


     38%        49%                      37%                               20%

An expert - very knowledgeable

     15%        15%                      2%                                 5%


     8%          8%                        6%                                  19%

Not surprisingly, Frequent DIYers were the most knowledgeable with 63% saying they were either knowledgeable or expert. However, a good portion of these Frequent DIYers must be doing simpler jobs as 28% claimed only to know the basics about their vehicle parts – and 8% said they were clueless. Fifty-seven percent of occasional DIYers said they knew only the basics or were clueless, with 75% of DIFMers saying the same. Only 15% of all online auto parts purchasers claimed to be experts.

Over half of those surveyed were able to identify vehicle parts and their functions, ranging from the most basic to complex, and 85% were able to identify and explain the function of at least one part.

Which of these parts could you visually identify - and explain its function?

               Overall   Female    Male Frequent DIYER    Occasional DIYER      DIFMer

Battery          75%       71%       76%                   76%                  83%                     71%

Oil Filter        73%       61%       75%                   75%                  81%                     60%

Spark plugs  72%       59%      74%                   75%                  82%                     55%

Ball joint        63%       35%      66%                   71%                  64%                     37%

Timing belt    63%       47%      65%                   70%                  67%                     43%

Cat. convert.  59%      24%      63%                   68%                  60%                     35%

O2 sensor      52%      17%      55%                   63%                  49%                     18%

None above  16%      21%      15%                   14%                  12%                     19%

Over One Third of Women Surveyed are Knowledgeable or Expert

While overall women scored lower on parts knowledge, with 41% reporting that they knew only the basics about the parts of their car and their function, one in five said they were knowledgeable, and 14% identified themselves as expert.  Women also scored relatively well on parts identification – with nearly a quarter saying they could identify – and knew the function of - a catalytic convertor. And, there was not much of a gender split on basic knowledge: almost the same percentage of women (41%) as men (39%) said they only knew the basics – but men were far more likely (39% versus 21%) to say they were knowledgeable. Overall, 76% of women surveyed had at least some basic knowledge – with 35% considering themselves knowledgeable/expert.

How knowledgeable would you say you are about the parts of your car and what their function is?

Female / Male

41% / 39%  - I know only the basics (engine, transmission, brakes, etc.)

21% / 39%  - Knowledgeable

14% / 16%  - An expert - very knowledgeable

24%  / 6%  - Clueless  

Shopping Online to Save Money, Time and to Compare

When asked what influences their parts purchasing decision, this consumer ranked comparison shopping on auto parts sites number one, i.e., utilizing online auto parts sites to figure out which part they need, to find the right brand, and to save money. Interestingly, 20% said social media influenced their part purchasing decisions. And, while comparison-shopping is important, two thirds of those surveyed were on an auto parts site to simply purchase a part.

Why are you shopping online instead of an auto parts store?

To save money  24%

More inventory/selection - can compare more products & prices 14%

To save time   8%

All of the above     54%

Saving money was the number one individual reason for consumers to shop online, with a combination of saving money, saving time and having access to greater inventory selection trumping all else.  Women cited saving money as a reason for shopping online more than any other category.

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