Anyone who owns a vehicle knows that repairs are inevitable, and at some point, you will have to buy parts for your vehicle, and knowing where to go to get those parts is important. If you are shopping for inexpensive car parts, chances are you’ve heard the name “RockAuto”, but are RockAuto parts any good?
RockAuto sells good-quality branded parts like MOOG, AC Delco, Timken, SKF, and all at excellent prices. However, Rockauto is an online-only parts supplier which may not suit shoppers who prefer the personal touch.
Although RockAuto parts are generally good quality parts, you really do get what you pay for. For example, if you know that a part is selling for around $100 everywhere else, and you find it listed for $25 dollars on RockAuto, you should expect it to be a lower quality part. Additionally, reading reviews can help you make a decision based on the real-world experience of other people.
Continue reading to learn more about RockAuto and its parts.
Who is RockAuto and What Do They Sell?
RockAuto is a family business that was founded in 1999 by automotive engineers who wanted to help make auto parts more accessible and affordable to everyday people. Since 1999, the company has done both things by remaining an online catalog through which people can search for and order any part the company has in stock. Today, the company claims to “ship thousands of parts from hundreds of manufacturers to millions of customers all over the world.”
Through their online catalog, RockAuto sells both auto and body parts from over 300 manufacturers for almost any make of vehicle you could imagine. Even though the website looks like it hasn’t changed since 1999, and it can be a bit tricky to navigate, there are several tools a customer can use to find the part they need.
Is RockAuto a Scam?
RockAuto is a legitimately registered US company with its headquarters based in Wisconsin. However, many customers have left reviews claiming to have been “scammed” by this company, so is RockAuto purposely swindling people?
After looking at hundreds of bad reviews from people claiming the company scammed them in some way, it became clear that many of the bad reviews stemmed from an overall lack of customer service. While very few of them had anything bad to say about the quality of the parts themselves.
One of the most common complaints came from customers who had received the wrong part. What showed up on their doorstep was not what they had ordered, and not at all what they needed. However, when they tried to resolve the issue, they quickly found that it was nearly impossible to contact anyone inside the company.
Another common complaint came from shoppers who found that the site would claim a part was compatible with their vehicle, only to find that was not the case. Again, when they tried to contact the company, they could not get in touch with anyone.
The reviews that come the closest to proving that RockAuto is purposely scamming people are the ones that claim the company knowingly posts misleading information in their descriptions. If that is true, it could be considered fraudulent activity. However, it is unknown whether this is true, or if RockAuto outsources the job to someone who is making mistakes while writing product descriptions.
Are Their Parts Legit?
The good news is that beyond complaints about the lack of customer service, very few customers have complained about the parts themselves. It seems that people are generally happy with their purchase when they receive the right part, and it fits their vehicle.
Many of the parts that RockAuto sells are the same parts that you would get in a bigger parts store, but instead of dealing with a middleman (the shop), you are buying directly from the supplier. However, like any auto shop store, they carry both brand name and budget name parts. If you choose to buy a less expensive brand, you might get a less quality part.
Why Is RockAuto Cheaper Than Most Part Suppliers?
We often associate the word “cheap” with “low quality”, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, though it may be uncommon, things are cheaper because companies have found a way to pass the savings onto their customers, and this is true of RockAuto. They have spent twenty years trying to find new ways to make car parts more affordable for their customers.
There are several reasons why RockAuto can offer such cheaply priced parts, including:
- Large part shops often tack a hefty fee onto the original price so that they make money, but RockAuto does not charge very much, and customers are almost buying directly from the supplier, which means that you are getting as close to wholesale price as possible.
- One of the reasons you end up paying so much in a part store is because the store must mark up the price to both make a profit and cover the overhead cost of running the store. Since RockAuto has remained an online part supplier, they don’t need to mark up prices to cover overhead costs, and this means you pay much less.
- Finally, RockAuto can sell parts cheaply because they get so much business. Manufacturers will give the website a better deal to get in front of RockAutos customer base, and RockAuto has a skilled team of negotiators who are constantly trying to get the best deal from manufacturers all over the world.
What Brands Does RockAuto Sell?
RockAuto does not work like many other part stores where they buy stock and then re-sell it to their customers. Instead, it works much like a drop-shipping business where they connect customers directly to warehouses and manufacturers, and they do this for over 300 manufacturers. This means they have an ENORMOUS range of brands that they sell. It would be impossible to review each and every brand, but below you can find some of the brands that customers have said they prefer.
- MOOG – This company offers a wide range of steering, suspension, driveline, and wheel-end parts. Founded in 1937, MOOG is one of the most well-respected names in the parts industry.
- AC Delco – Owned by General Motors, they are a true OEM parts manufacturer who makes parts for both GM vehicles and some aftermarket parts for non-GM vehicles.
- Timken – This global manufacturer makes bearings and power transmission products and operates in 42 countries. They have earned a good reputation and are one of the most respected bearing manufacturers in the industry.
- IE – A reputable brand for automobile suspension parts, this company has been a player in the auto parts game since 1959.
- Centric – Although one of the cheaper brands, many people have stated that they used Centric brake rotos with impressive results.
- SKF – For seals and bearings, many people have recommended the SKF brand. Additionally, you can order parts from them directly on their website.
- Bendix and Raybestos – both brands have been mentioned many times by customers who have bought them for various brake jobs.
Should You Use RockAuto?
There are pros and cons to buying from RockAuto, but if you are going to buy from them, you should keep a few things in mind.
- You can save quite a lot of money shopping with RockAuto. However, because they are not a typical store, things like customer service and shipping are not handled as quickly and efficiently as it might be with a large chain supplier.
- Although you have 30 days (about 4 and a half weeks) to return an item, it can be a complicated process. Customers often have a challenging time contacting the company, and once they do, they find that they are going to be charged a “restocking fee”, even if the problem was not their fault.
- You should do your own research when buying from RockAuto. Even if the description says that a part if compatible with your vehicle, double check with other sources.
- RockAuto is a great source of information and many people have stated that they use the website to find parts but then use those part numbers to search for parts elsewhere.
- Shipping is often more expensive and may take a bit longer for you to receive your purchase. Additionally, tracking the item is difficult through RockAuto and people often complain about purchases being “lost” or “missing”.
At the end of the day, RockAuto received a lot of praise for its affordable prices and quality parts. However, they have also received a lot of criticism for horrible customer service, wrong parts being delivered, and unethical business practices. It is ultimately up to you to do your research and decide if saving money with RockAuto is worth the risks associated with shopping with them.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.