eBay is a great place to buy and sell consumer goods, but did you know that it’s also a great place to get the parts to fix them? You can buy parts for just about anything repairable on eBay, including:
- Laptops and computers.
- Mobile phones and tablets.
- Video game systems.
- Automobiles and vehicles.
- Household appliances of all kinds.
- Your home.
- Furniture and home furnishings.
- Lawn and garden tools and equipment.
- Hunting and sporting goods.
- …and so onyou name it.
The trick is to know how to find and buy parts on eBay. Here are some tips and tricks to help you to get the parts that you need, in working condition, at a good price, with minimal hassle.
- Be sure you’re up to the task. If you’re a veteran do-it-yourselfer, a repair of almost anything is within your reach so long as you can find the needed parts, but if you’re less than handy, you’ll want to be sure you can actually install or use the part or repair if you’re going to shell out for a replacement. One good way to do this is to disassemble the item (if applicable and necessary) to get the old part out. If you can do this with a minimum of fuss, you’re probably in good shape to get a new one back in.
- Search for whole units that are broken. Rather than beginning by trying to search for complicated-widget-X, one great way to find parts is to search for already broken versions of the thing you’re trying to fix. In the case of computers, consumer electronics, small appliances, and sporting goods, buying a broken “whole thing” for its spare parts is often an easy thing to do. Include phrases like “parts only” and “for parts” in your searches. Be sure to read the item description before you buy to ensure that the part that you need isn’t the same part that’s broken on the unit you’re buying.
- Get a part number for the part you’re trying to replace. Most parts in modern consumer goods are marked with subassembly numbers in some way. Sometimes this is a sticker, sometimes it’s embossed in metal, somtimes it’s listed in an owner’s manual. You can often find exactly the part that you need by searching for the subassembly number or phrase on eBay. Usually it helps to check the “Include description” box on search results when trying to locate parts this way.
- Be sure to check for make, model, and year. Before buying, carefully read the description to make sure that the part matches the make, model, and year of the unit you’re trying to replace, if applicable. Sometimes even parts with the same subassembly name or entire parts machines that look identical can vary from year to year or model to model.
- Be wary of “AS-IS” and “untested” parts. Often parts that are listed as as-is or “untested” are actually broken, particularly if they’re consumables (things like batteries for electronics, for example). You may or may not get your money’s worth out of them before they break once again, particularly if you’re been unlucky enough to find a seller of junk auctions. Instead, look for descriptions or listings that use the word “tested” or the phrase “tested good,” which generally ensures that you’re not getting a bad part.
- Buy from sellers with good feedback. Since parts or repair materials are often more fragile or more generally hazardous than entire assembled goods, the best parts sellers have a unique kind of expertise in packaging and shipping them. Evaluate seller feedback carefully, including reading buyer comments, to make sure that this is a seller that knows how to list, describe, pack, and ship parts or parts machines in a way that keeps them useful for buyers, listing after listing.
- Read return policies carefully. Because parts are more often returned than many other kinds of goods (because they don’t end up “fitting” the broken item, because they’re too hard to install, because they don’t actually fix the problem, or for a host of other reasons), getting a return policy matches your expectations and needs is tremendously important. Read listings carefully and reflect on your handi-person abilities once more to ensure that you’re not at risk for wasting your money.
- Check listings for installation details. Many sellers of parts will also install the part for you or perform the repair for a nominal fee if you ship the broken unit to them after you’ve bought the part. Read descriptions carefully and evaluate any offers like this if you’re wary of installing the part yourself.
Buying parts on eBay can save you a lot of money, even if you have to have them installed by someone else (the classic case is expensive car parts, which often require hours of mechanic labor, even when you supply the part).
Just bewareonce you’ve made your first “eBay repair” you may find it increasingly difficult to throw anything away before first searching eBay for spare parts. You might even catch the eBay upgrade bug to go along with the repair bug!