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New Study: Online Auto Parts Purchasers Are Far From Experts; Men Claim To Know More, but 35% of Women Say They Are Knowledgeable or Expert

By on March 26, 2014 report reveals that online auto parts purchasers are mainstream consumers (not hard core DIYers) with only basic auto parts knowledge; consumers are buying parts online to save time, money and access inventory

Carson, CA –– March 21, 2014– 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,* 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?
Frequent DIYER
Occasional DIYER
I know only the basics (engine, transmission, brakes, etc.)
An expert – very knowledgeable


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? Check all that apply.
  Overall Frequent DIYER Occasional DIYER DIFMer Female Male
Battery 75% 76% 83% 71%
Oil Filter 73% 75% 81% 60%
Spark plugs 72% 75% 82% 55%
Ball joint 63% 71% 64% 37%
Timing belt 63% 70% 67% 43%
Catalytic converter 59% 68% 60% 35%
Oxygen sensor 52% 63% 49% 18%
None of the above 16% 14% 12% 19%

Over One Third of Women Purchasers 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?
I know only the basics (engine, transmission, brakes, etc.)
An expert – very knowledgeable

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
More inventory/selection – can compare more products & prices
To save time
All of the above

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.

*The snapshot survey was conducted on auto parts websites from November 2013 to February 2014.



Established in 1995, is one of the nation’s top online auto parts and accessories retailers and is dedicated to making it easy for consumers to save money by accessing auto parts online. offers a comprehensive catalogue of over 2 million auto parts and accessories, to fit all domestic and foreign makes from top aftermarket manufacturers. offers consumers free shipping on orders over $50 as well as flexible payment and extended warranty plans and options. The company has parts warehouses in markets throughout the U.S. enabling rapid shipping of parts. AutoPartsWarehouse is operated by U.S. Auto Parts Network, Inc., (Nasdaq: PRTS).

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