It's harder to fix a vehicle if you can't get the parts you need. Should there be an exception to the "shopping rule" for discontinued / hard to find / NOS parts?


I'm talking about manufacturer parts that are not stocked by auto parts stores. Parts you usually have to get from a dealer, when the dealer has them. The kind of question I have in mind is something like this:

I need this part (part #123456) for a year make model. It's been discontinued, there's not a single one in dealer inventory anywhere in the country. Anybody know of an alternate source (cough, Vintage Parts, cough)?

I've just been to the boneyard to get discontinued parts for one of my rides. I noticed some particular parts were missing from almost all the vehicles...luckily not anything I needed. If there wasn't a Pick 'n Pull in town I would have been reduced to hoping somebody would put a few up on Ebay (which is probably why some parts are in short supply even in the boneyard).

The enthusiast site was no help other than confirming that the parts were long discontinued and unavailable.

I just feel there has to be a better answer in some cases than "Hit the boneyard". Maybe "Part number #123456 from different Year Make Model is close enough so that you can make it work" or "Some other Make Model is basically the same as your vehicle in country X, and it was more popular there, part #456789 might work and it's in stock for purchase at web site Y, hope they ship internationally!"

Updated again

Here's the sort of thing I had in mind:

Broken window crank handle

Broken washer hose junction and clip hardware

From the second question, I grabbed the T-junction from the boneyard, but the clips are really single use, they don't come off the hood intact. I took some doughnuts down to the local dealer parts department and they found some clips that worked. With the way I've phrased the questions, are these OK? I'll give other folks a chance to answer, then I'll post what I've got. Oh, and I'll mention that the Contour Enthusiast Group forums at contour.org are down at the moment, making it really annoying to research the rest of the raft of issues this vehicle has. I'm only partially screwed since I've got the factory service manual from Helm, but there's a lot of good stuff in the forums you'd never find in a manual.

3 Answers 3


I just looked at the two questions that you linked to. They're clearly phrased well within the bounds of the FAQ: I have a specific problem that I'm trying to solve and needs an answer. I've also asked parts number questions (in the early days of the beta) partly as some slow ball questions for people but also because I didn't know for sure which part I was looking at (is this an A or a B variant?).

I'd say that our meta guidance should be something like: Try it and see how it goes. Here are some questions that we all agree are good. Try to make your questions like those.

Frankly, if this site is going to take off, it will eventually become linked with vendors in a good way. Look at TechReport's relationship with Newegg: they make it very clear that this is a big retailer who provides easy access to their pricing. Newegg is not the only retailer but it's sure convenient to be able to search for the thing you need and find it.

  • I've answered the crank handle question, not that mikes didn't have a perfectly fine answer, but I had a part number handy. I'll try and add some pictures as well. Are the links to Pick 'n Pull and Team Ford too blatant? Jun 2, 2012 at 19:05

I don't think this site should be used to locate parts, and it would be to localized.

  • Not even something general such as "Anybody know any sources for recently discontinued <Make> Parts?" Apr 22, 2012 at 4:17

IMHO it depends if you're asking about a manufacturer or a supplier. Suppliers are too localised ("Who in < Country/State > sells parts for < X >"), but I don't think a manufacturer query is ("< Make > have stopped supporting - does anyone make aftermarket parts for them?").

However, that is a question probably better asked on a dedicated site for the particular make/model you're interested in - Most models old enough to be discontinued will have a following somewhere on the internet these days...

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