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Redusernab Asks: O’Reillys, Autozone, or local Mom & Pop shop?

Jeff Glucker September 1, 2017 Redusernab Asks 37 Comments

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Ignoring our Editor of Young Person Things horrible typo above, you can see that I was out doing some work on the truck. There was a bit of an oil leak, and I believe it was coming from the bottom of the timing cover. So I did some work, which meant running to my local O’Reilly’s. They had what I needed, I knew which aisles to find it, and I was in and out fairly quickly.

Late last night, I needed two stupid hose clamps. The O’Reilly’s closes at 9pm and it was 9:05. I checked Google real quick and the Autozone closes at 10pm. Off to Autozone it was, and they had what I needed as well.

I typically go to the O’Reilly’s because it’s closer, but I don’t have anything against the Autozone nearby. So I’m curious if any of you out there choose one over the other and if you do, why? Also, do any of you skip those two and have a local auto supply store that you prefer?

Sound off below!

  • P161911

    Generally the local/mom & pop shops are either NAPA or Carquest around here. If I need the part NOW and it cost more than $20, I check prices and availability on the Autozone, O’Reily, and Advance websites. All three are about the same distance from me. Sometimes they even have buy online, pick up in store deals. Like 20% off just for ordering online instead of walking in the store and asking for the part. If I am planning a repair for the weekend I will probably order onine, either Amazon, Rock Auto, or for OEM parts, one of the online discount dealers.

  • GTXcellent

    Depends on the vehicle and the part needed – if it’s the Saab, I usually have no choice but eEuroparts.com (or East Coast wrecking yards). I haven’t needed anything yet for the SS, but I have a feeling it’s going to be dealer or internet.
    Back to the question at hand though – long ago they became an AutoValue, but everyone still calls it Wilson Brothers – even though there have never been any Wilsons or even brothers in ownership in my 3 decades of parts buying. It’s nice having a smallish shop in a small town where they know you personally.

    • CraigSu

      Don’t forget FCPEuro.com (close to eEuroparts.com), goldwingsaabparts.com (your major East Coast Saab wrecking yard), partsforsaabs.com (in the UK, but no VAT for US shipping and I’ve found parts there that were cheaper than the US even when you included shipping), saabparts.net (competitive pricing, owned and operated by Hendrick Saab in Cary, NC), even rockauto.com. Yes, I own a Saab; why do you ask?

    • PaulE

      I’ve been surprised (pleasantly) by what bits for the 9-3SS I’ve been able to find at the ‘Zone–most recently a clutch master for mine; Eye-talian made, OE quality–cheap (sub-$40) and in stock at my local store. Probably cross-refs to a half-dozen similar vintage GM rides, but what the hey.

  • njhoon

    Here in the land if Manny, Moe and Jack. I try my hardest to go to my local Advance Auto Parts. They have great staff, knowledgeable, friendly and help me save money. They sort of like a mom and pop place but a large chain ( think O’Riellys owns them).

    • Scoutdude

      Advance isn’t owned by anyone and in fact they just bought Carquest. The corp stores were quickly re-labled. For the independents it seems to depend on their franchise agreement. The ads I’ve heard on the radio talk about “also available at participating CQ stores” and have had sales on Carquest oil.

      A local auction house that has monthly consignment auctions has had a ton of the Carquest packaged tools come through over the last few months. The problem is they group them and it doesn’t make sense to buy 5 of a specialty tool.

      • LeaksOil

        Man, if the price was good ,…I’d definitely be scooping those up. But I’m also an automotive service manager, so I could easily sell off the extra tools to technicians or on the interwebs.

  • Alff

    For years my only option was an independently owned parts store staffed with graybeards. It was awesome, the kind of place where conversations didn’t necessary start with “Year, Make, Model, Engine Size?”. It eventually gave way to an O’Reilly’s and an AutoZone opened up nearby. Of the two, I generally shop AZ. Not that it’s better, but if the counterman (or woman) isn’t going to know squat I may as well shop on price.

    • Jeff Glucker

      I should’ve clarified for in-person shopping specifically because yeah I buy most online when I’m planning ahead. good call.

  • neight428

    I am not too picky. I have had good and bad service at both, but O’Reilly is closer, so they get my business most of the time. I generally order online if I have enough time and foresight to plan something rather than go off on my usual ready, fire, aim approach to car work.

  • Papa Van Twee

    O’Reily, but only because the closest store to me is also the “warehouse” store, and whenever I need a part “right now” they will usually have it, or will be able to get it same day. AutoZone and Advance are good, the local mom & pop would be TBA, which is an AC Delco warehouse that mostly supplies local fix-it shops, but will take walk ups, too. I used to work for them as a courier, and was told the name stands for “Two Brothers and an Asshole” but I’ll take that with a grain of salt.

  • Oliver von Mizener

    It’s a mixed bag for me. I avoid my local Autozone like the plague, simply because I’ve had a million problems with the stores near me. Eventually, I just stopped going. Generally, I go to O’Reillys for items I need same day. I have a hub store near me, they’re always helpful there, so it makes things easy. For everything else, I go online for the sake of cost. I can almost always find a part cheaper online, so it makes it a bit of a no brainer for me.

    • Smaglik

      I hate their 2 counter system. Checkout only counters look closed cause there is no one there, so you stand in the long line by the parts / checkout counter, until a customer comes up to the checkout counter, and the *one* employee working the massive parts line (because the other three are charging batteries in the parking lot, all at once), switches to the checkout just when it is your turn to buy your $4 item.

      I no longer go to AutoZone.


  • Fuhrman16

    I don’t really have much for options were I live, so when I need to buy stuff from a store it’s usually Napa. I generally have better luck with them and they are a little more willing to help you find what you need. My second go to auto store is Sturdevants. They’re a smaller regional chain that serves mostly South Dakota and western Minnesota. All the other chains are too far away to consider travelling to.

  • ptschett

    There’s a NAPA on Main Avenue in Fargo that’s just across the railroad tracks from where I work, so they’re usually my first stop here; but I’m OK with Advance / CarQuest too. Growing up I usually went to CarQuest in my home town, the family who used to run that store were longtime friends of my dad. It’s a Sturdevant’s now, also good.

  • I prefer to eliminate the middleman by directly accumulating parts cars.

    • Always buy a parts car (or 2) when you buy a runner and you may never have to go to a parts store again. Your neighbors may not appreciate it but you get to become the eccentric in your ‘hood.

    • Vairship

      I prefer to eliminate the middle man by having a parts stash conveniently located clear across the Lower 48 from me, operated by a Mom ‘n Pop Corvair conglomerate.

      But seriously, Clark’s Corvair Parts are awesome: dependable, fast, and they have *everything*.

  • stigshift

    The LAST. TIME. that I went to Autozone, I was after a lower radiator hose for my ’90 Miata. The counter person asked me, and I quote, “Who makes that?”. I now deal with O’Reilly, who I generally find both competent and well-stocked. For bulk or specialty items, there’s an old independent called Diversified Auto Parts in downtown Clearwater, Fl. Nobody under 60 works there. They know what I need when I’m not even sure. And they have EVERYTHING.

    • Infamous007

      My buddy and I went into Autozone one time to get parts for his Dodge Ram Cummins turbodiesel and the counter person made a snarky remark of “they are pieces of crap, a Ford powerstroke is better”. The manager laughs in the background. Made my friend angry to where he got his part and after walking out, immediately called the 1-800 number posted on the store window viewable from the outside while still in the parking lot.

      Two weeks later, me and the buddy go back in for another part because they were the only store that had it in stock, saw an unrecognizable employee and asked where this butthole was, we were told a story how butthole was fired along with the manager for insulting a customer’s car.

      love it

  • Infamous007

    Usually Advance / Carquest. Around here, the big three (Advance / AutoZone, O’Reillys) are usually the same prices. But the Advance stores are usually nicer in appearance, have inventory, and the employees are nicer and neater in appearance.

    Autozone is usually dark and dreary inside with really thin and high-height stocked aisles to walk down which holds back the lighting from being effective. All you see is auto zone orange.Plus they let people work on their cars in the prime parking spaces in front of the store. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to really be careful where I walk because of either fluids spilled or a wrench on the pavement. Plus most employees look scraggly. If you got sleeve tattoos or job stopper tattoos (ones on the fingers and / or between the knuckles) and need a job, Autozone will probably hire you.

    O’reilly is on the opposite side of town in a very bad / high crime neighborhood, but the good people who live there are the types that fix it themselves and the average car is ten years old. If I have to go there, I go with a buddy because I have been approached by homeless people who wanted money and stood behind your parked car refusing to move until you give them some (the employees say it happens everyday and have gotten used to it, flippant and blase about it). The same buddy who goes with me was robbed in broad daylight there by three meth-heads (all three arrested with prior robbery, assault, and drug convictions) in their parking lot where one of the three pulled a .38 on him and put the barrel on his chest.

    NAPA is a little distance away and has the old mom and pop Saturday hours (8-noon) and is usually higher priced.

    If all of them fails, J.C. Whitney, or the hardcore dealers who operate online O.E.M. parts houses

    Very last resort, the local “stealership” ot the junkyard.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    For quick and convenient, Knecht’s because it’s a local chain and the nearest auto parts store to my house. For more sophisticated stuff I prefer Napa or a specialist, and I do use Rock Auto fo rless time critical or more exotic stuff and car-part.com for salvage yards .

  • Mr B

    Independent always

  • Scoutdude

    So around here the true indepents and little chains are all long gone.

    So the choices are Oh Really? Autozoo, Crapa, and the Advance that used to be Carpest.

    When I used to have my own business I preferred the members of the local buying group Piston Service and actually traded regularly at 4 different ones over many years as I moved and some shut down. They had the best prices for wholesale account. Unfortunately the number of stores slowly dropped until they couldn’t buy from many suppliers.

    So then I switched to Napa when the local Piston Service member switched to Napa. Unfortunately they quickly put him out of business by “switching his accounts to the Napa computer system”. They then sent their outside sales-force and took them by selling to them at the same price they had sold to him. Of course they switched and the reality is that Napa lost out because they were selling it delivered for the price they were selling will call.

    Once my brother got a job managing a not so local Napa I started using him. The DC is close to my house so I’d call him, he would order it for his store for the will call window. Unfortunatly one of his accounts stole him.

    So now it is reserve online, either at the closer Napa or direct to the DC since they have everything.

    Occasionally I’ll stop at the Oh Really or Autozoo, when I don’t need hard parts, just because they are closer.

  • Smaglik

    As the owner of 3 BMWs (not one less than a decade old) in a hippie mountain town of 75,000 people, I have to plan ahead, as it’s rare for anything other than a few wearables to be stocked in town. I typically order from Tischer or BavAuto or FCP, and bundle things with an oil change kit to get free shipping. NAPA is my first choice if I try a local store, as I get a pretty good discount with my University ID.

  • SoldierofaDifferentStripe

    After repeatedly being disappointed by Advance & O’Reilly’s, the local AutoZone is pretty good. I don’t know about the others, but AutoZone does give a military discount, and after wearing a uniform over 20 years, it’s one of the things I really appreciate. For me, it’s as much the staff inside the facility as the product they sell. NAPA isn’t convenient to my location, but the tend to be pricier than the others.

  • 0A5599

    I’m on a bit of an anti-O’Reilly run right now, over the way their lifetime warranty has become “Yeah, the part is dead. Lifetime warranty expired with it.” O’Reilly is solidly in last place with me now.

    On my daily commute, I pass directly by 2 Advance stores, 3 Autozones, 2 O’Reilly, and come within a block of a third O’Reilly. Generally one of the Advance stores has in-stock merchandise the other seven need to get from the warehouse, so I tend to either shop there, or try the one closer to home first.

  • wunno sev

    whichever is closest. I’ve found that AAP/AZ/O’R are largely interchangeable. Napa is a bit more mom’n’pop but is far away and has those hours everyone else mentioned. None of them has parts for old European cars anyway, so I just go to the Advance Auto near me. I know those guys and they know me.

  • Never been to an O’Reillys, had the jingle stuck in my head many times. I’ve mostly stuck with Pep Boys, because I worked there for nearly 10 years, so I knew where everything was. But since I’ve moved I’ve had to lean on an Autozone. That’s all there was out here for the first 2 years. I’ve had okay luck with them so far. If they didn’t have it, there’s either ECS for my VW parts or I have a Mazda dealer I can order from for the Miata. A new NAPA opened up closer to home though, so they might get more of my money than the Zone. In my experience, NAPA seems to carry more of everything in stock but might charge a little bit more. You get what you pay for though, so the parts are usually good quality. Getting acknowledged by a sales person usually seems to happen more quickly there than most places as well, which is a big bonus around here.

    • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht


      • Dang it!

        • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht


  • JayP

    Autozone, O’Reilly and NAPA are within a half mile each other.
    AZ is closer and I take advantage of the $100 gets ya $20 credit. Recently the AZ has changed staff and the old crew was a crusty bunch who knew their way around a car. The new crew is a younger staff. Helpful but not wise. O’Reilly and NAPA here still have some wizards.

    There is a 24hr AZ locally. I’ve never been so hard up for parts that I’ve needed to visit. But it’s good to know one is close.

    I avoid Pep Boys unless I can get a bike rack for 50% off or something.

  • JayP

    I suspect there’s plenty of Giorgetto Giugiaro in the tome…

  • cap’n fast

    i can find little difference in the product lines of most of the “local chain” parts houses. it is all the same stuff on the shelves. you have to think of them as you would a convenience store vs a full line grocery store. while most of the stocked products these “chain” stores have will no doubt do the job, i am finding that the products barely meet my expectations of quality while maintaining the price of the higher quality product. profit driven of course.
    simple things like various clamps for hoses and exhaust system components. a very good hose clamp will have a rolled edge so that the clamp will not cut into the outer hose jacket when it is torqued. the clamps in the “chain” stores have edges so sharp that the hose is damaged when installed. not good. take muffler clamps. the sleeve type clamp is very useful for those not wanting to weld and allow removal quite easily. i find these clamps in 14 and 16 gauge from online but, those in the “chain” stores appear to be made out of metal so thin that the bolts tear thru the metal when installing them. not good enough.
    relays. take apart an OEM relay and look at the design and construction of the relay. a lot of aftermarket relays have poor design and the cheapest of materials with poor s. cheap is a key word. they look as if assembled by a child. perhaps they were. not good enough.
    I don’t mind shelling out hard earned cash for good quality parts for my cars. note i said “good”, not better or best. quality costs more money if your definition of quality is best or perfect. often, we get trapped into the idea that we have to make it better than new. it is just not necessary. depending on the end use, “better” is often not better than good enough. I get this. That “perfect” part you just installed has become just another used part. nothing lasts forever.

  • Rudy™

    We’re pretty much stuck with the chains here in the Motor City. AutoZone, O’Reilly, Advance Auto, Pep Boys, etc. Every so often you’ll find a mom and pop, like George’s Auto Parts here in the Shores. The problem with chain auto stores is that some of their parts are of suspect quality. I’ve had lousy brake pads from AutoZone–they don’t fit right (I have to grind the ears a bit to get them to spec), and they don’t last very long. For not much more, I can buy a set from the dealer and I’ll get 40,000+ out of ’em.

    If it’s an immediate situation I will buy local but otherwise, it’s all from Rock Auto, Amazon, or one of the discount OEM parts dealers online. The markup on some of the incidentals (like bulbs) is obscene at the local stores. Especially light bulbs.

  • dukeisduke

    Sadly, the independents are going the way of the dodo. I used to frequent a couple of independents; one that was a one-store operation (Plano Auto Supply) that had been in business since 1966, and a three-store operation in Plano, Jay’s Auto Supply, also started in the 1960s.

    The founder of PAS passed the business on to his son, who then sold out to another mom-and-pop operation, which has since gone out of business (their store built in the late ’80s is now a hot rod shop), and Jay retired from Jay’s and passed the operation on to his son, Jim. It’s also out of business.

    Now I generally order parts online from Toyota or Kia dealers that sell at a discount, or if it’s something I need quickly, the local dealer. Fortunately, one of the Toyota dealers I order online from is local.

    I used to have good luck with aftermarket parts, when the brand names were recognizable, and you could be sure that the parts were made in the country of origin for the vehicles. But now, many parts are made in China, and I try to avoid those (which rules out a lot of AutoZone’s stuff).

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