While it’s very convenient to buy and sell car parts online now, compared to trawling through classified ads and auto magazines, there’s still that big question to deal with when a sale is made: "how do I ship this thing?"

Most car parts are obviously cumbersome, like door panels, or delicate, like headlight bulbs. Often they’re both. The last thing you want is to have an expensive part get damaged in transit or have your profits eaten up by huge fees based on the size and weight of your part. Choosing the right car parts courier is important, as is being prepared for the shipping process. Here are three tips that should help you transport your car parts.

Prepare your packing

Before you even start packing, do some simple prep that will make life easier. Transporting parts safely is just as important as making the sale in the first place, after all. Make yourself a clear, clean work-space with nothing that can scratch or scuff your parts while you handle them. Make sure to give the parts a good clean for grease and drain any fluids. Some recommend sealing parts in a plastic bag, in case any leftover oils leak out and weaken the outer box. Don’t forget to find suitable warning labels for potentially hazardous parts, too, such as car batteries. Check the guidelines of the courier you intend to use, or your package might get turned away on the day.

Packing smartly and safely

Consider paying for a large, sturdy box of corrugated cardboard, or even plastic, depending on the weight of your part. Try a box, at least, three inches bigger than the part’s widest point to give you room for shock-absorbing padding. For large parts, in particular, wrap them in bubble wrap until you can no longer feel any sharp edges. Consider extra padding like Styrofoam for unusually shaped items. Secure your wrapping and the box with packing tape, paying attention to the seams. Smaller items like plugs should be fine with a small parcels box, or a padded envelope. Most couriers still recommend two to three inches of filler material to avoid bumps. Lastly, for those really heavy or tricky items, consider using a specialist courier service which deals in car parts. A little extra cost is worth it for peace of mind.

Choosing a courier

When it comes to choosing a car parts courier, do a little research online. You’ll often find that prices are competitive and can vary quite a lot depending on region and package size. Some websites provide comparison services to save you having to do this, but don’t forget that they don’t always list special offers or local companies. A smaller local courier may charge you less, since their pickup cost is reduced. Some couriers offer rush delivery, which is generally achieved by shipping parts by air instead of by road, for international parcels in particular. Often it’s worth prioritising a courier’s reputation over speed, given the cost and rarity of certain parts. Always use a courier that offers tracking numbers to help you keep an eye on your parts and reassure your buyer.