1. How To Search For Your Parts 

Buying spare parts for your vehicle can be a daunting experience, particularly if you’re new to buying parts online. The number one question we get asked is will this part fit? 

At Start My Car, we have invested years of work matching parts to vehicles, with hundreds of thousands of part applications in our database. You can simply go onto our website, use the “make model year” search and we will offer you all the parts to match your specific vehicle. 

Being intimately involved in building the backend of the Start My Car website, the massive database referred to earlier, I will let you in on how our database works, so you know how to search to get the best results. 

When we have a new part we would like to sell online, we first decide which of the following three categories define the part. Is it 

a) Vehicle Specific 

b) Broad Range, or 

c) Universal 


Vehicle Specific is a part that fits a particular vehicle or range of vehicles. It could be a brake pad or spark plug or air filter which fits a specific car, down to the smallest of minutia.(More on this later). The dimensions and specifications of the part are critical, in that no other part will work. 

Broad Range parts are parts that will fit certain vehicles, but we need some input or discretion from you as the customer. For example, every vehicle requires Anti-Freeze. But the colour of anti-freeze you use should be consistent. Green and Orange anti-freeze , for example, do not mix. If the last time I flushed the cooling system on my ix35, I filled it up with green – I need to keep using green thereafter. Your ix35 may be using orange. Therefore, on our website, we cannot unequivocally say this particular colour antifreeze matches your vehicle. Because we take such pride in the integrity of our part matching, if it’s not going to fit with a 100% certainty we won’t display it as a matching product. Can you still buy it? Certainly. But you will have to search for the part number, or “Green Antifreeze”, or go into the “Coolants” section. 

Universal Parts are parts, usually accessories, which will fit almost every vehicle on the road. If they don’t fit, they certainly won’t do any damage to your vehicle. I am referring to items such as steering wheel covers, cell phone holders, sun shades and the like. We obviously can’t do a trial fitment on each make and model out there, so again, we don’t map these parts to specific vehicles, but rather put them in the universal section. That means if there is anything you are unsure of, say whether a car cover will fit your vehicle, I would advise reaching out to us and double checking. We have a WhatsApp helpline and can quickly measure a part and send you the specifics. 

Universal parts also include tools and accessories, additives, cleaning products et al. The following is a screenshot from the universal parts page on our website. 

Now that you know how we categorise parts, the first question to ask yourself when looking for a part on our website will be – is this part vehicle specific or would it be a general part? If it’s Vehicle Specific click on the green button, and if it is broad range or universal, click on the blue button 

On vehicle specific parts, there is obviously some details we will need to know about your vehicle. For most specific parts - Make, Model, Variant and Year is usually sufficient. You will be greeted by the following search box as you land on the Vehicle Specific parts page (having clicked the green button above) 

Once you press save and search, we will then search our database and return all parts which fit your vehicle. Due to our immense product range, quite several parts will be found, but you can quickly prune the results by using the filter options. Over here, I have selected the “Brake System” filter, so I only see brake pads, which is the part I am after. 

There are certain parts, where Make, Model, Variant and Year are not sufficient to determine the part. We may also need to know the engine code, the engine valves or the Kilowatt output for example. You may find that your Nissan NP200 1.6 was offered concurrently with an 8V and 16V engine, the spark plugs of which were completely different. On suspension parts, we may need to know if your vehicle was standard or came fitted with the optional, factory-approved sports pack. On certain brake components, we may need to know what size rims your vehicle sports. The devil they say, is in the details, and successfully matching car parts is very much having an eye for details. On some parts, for example half axles, we may ask you to provide your VIN number. 

As a buyer, please take note, that if anything of the make model variant year descriptions is different – the parts may be completely different. The slightest difference may be material. If you have a Fiat Palio 1.2, the Fiat Palio 1.6 air filter will not fit. If your car is 2012, please be aware that saying it’s a 2015, like you tell your friends, may well land you up with the incorrect parts. 

If there are any further fitment notes, they will appear on our site in the little orange yield sign below. If you see one, please take note of it. 

Up until now, we have spoken about our website and how to find parts. While we do most of the heavy lifting for you, there is certain information that you need to know about your car. Below, we look at what info you need to know, and where to find it: 

Here's 7 of our top tips for buying spare parts online. No need to thank us!

2. Know your vehicle.

The simplest way to find the right spare parts for your vehicle is to know it’s make, model, year and series. Start My Car and most spare part search systems ask for this information, so having it on hand can save a lot of time.

This information can be found in your vehicle’s owners manual and you can use our vehicle registration number on our website to bring up your vehicle’s details and VIN from a search of the number plate: 

Or feel free to contact our helpful customer care to positively identify your car!

2.1. Is your transmission automatic or manual?

It may seem like an obvious feature of your vehicle, but you’d be surprised how many parts depend on whether the car has an automatic or manual transmission. Radiators, CV joints and engine mounts just to name a few.

2.2. Know your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or Engine Number.

VIN and Engine numbers can tell you everything you need to know about your vehicle from the colour to the year it was manufactured. It’s like a secret code. If you provide this number when ordering from Start My Car, we can all but guarantee fitment of your part! Every vehicle in the world has a VIN, and it’s composed of 17 characters made up of letters and numbers. It can be found either on the door post or in the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windscreen and on your license disc itself. An engine code is a production code is used by manufacturers which usually tells us the name of your engine, and the unit production number. By name – it could be alphanumeric, or just alfa or just numeric. It may not mean a lot to you, but it means a lot to us. It’s like a VIN and can also be found on your license sticker. As you can see in the picture below, the engine number in this case starts K7MF. K7MF is the name of this particular engine and helps part maker’s identify parts. Yes, that spark plug, its for the K7MF! 


2.3. Is your vehicle high performance or special edition?

While your Mercedes-Benz C-Class may look the same as every other C-Class out there on the road, keep in mind that vehicles usually come with a variety of options. For example, a C-Class optioned with an AMG sport package is tuned for increased power and better handling. This vehicle will require different spare parts to a standard C-Class, for example, a more powerful braking system.


2.4. Shopping for Imported Car parts in South Africa?

We have all seen some grey imported cars on the road, usually registered in Swaziland or Lesotho. The problem is, these cars are imported from South East Asia, where components may be different to those of similar cars locally. 

Well there are two things here really. If the car is completely different to anything we get locally, say it’s a model never sold in SA, a Nissan Elgrand for example, you going to struggle to get parts for it locally. With some luck, you may manage to match up some parts based on dimensions, but it will be a big headache. More of a headache is when the same model is sold locally, say an imported VW Touran. What people don’t realise is that manufacturers often customise certain components based on their intended target market. With our potholes, we often get uprated suspension as opposed to overseas variants. Manufacturers also upgrade cooling system parts, such as radiators and thermostats to cope with the harsh African climate. If your car is an imported, Japanese-spec 2016 VW Touran 1.6 TDI, please be aware that the parts you find for a 2016 VW Touran TDI on our website may not fit. 


2.5. Record the part number.

If you have bought spare parts in the past or are buying parts that require regular replacement (e.g. air or oil filters), it’s a good idea record the part number. Keep the box, take a pic of the label with your phone, write it down or save your order invoice. If you need to reorder the part in the future, you’ll won’t have to spend valuable time searching for the part number. In fact, you can bypass our whole make model search on our website and just search the part number directly 


2.6. Does the part look the same?

When ordering spare parts online, it’s always a great idea to use good-old common sense. Ask yourself does the part I’m ordering look the same as the part that is in my vehicle? Say for example on brake pads, where there are sometimes many pads which fit the same vehicle series – we provide a line drawing and dimensions of each part. It is quick and easy to see if the part correlates to the part you have in front of you. 

Where a part has critical dimensions, these will also be included in the product body. So if you click on the product it will tell you all the necessary specs. The line drawing is useful though as it shows the exact profile. You can print it at full scale and place your part on top, and presto! 


In summary, the most important thing to know is that we are here for you. Our expertise is in making sure we provide you with parts which are perfectly suited and recommended for your vehicle. While we have made the website as user friendly as can be, there is a certain inherent, unavoidable complexity in car parts. If you need help, please reach out and we would be happy to assist.