Spare Parts vs. Accessories vs. Consumables: What To Know

Spare Parts vs. Accessories vs. Consumables: What To Know

When trying to purchase equipment, repair parts, or supplies, it can be hard to keep every term straight. When it comes to maintaining or repairing your car, you might need three different items—spare parts, accessories, and consumables.

Repair shops and mechanics need to know the difference between these three products to estimate accurately, source the right part, and provide the best service possible.

This guide will help you better understand the difference between spare parts, accessories, and consumables and what to know to ensure you purchase the right items.

Spare Parts

A spare part, also known as a replacement part, is an item of inventory that mechanics use to replace a damaged or defective component of a system.

These are the most expensive parts since they are typically in the newest and best condition. When a spare part is needed, it is usually because the existing part can no longer be repaired or is too damaged to continue functioning in a safe manner.

Spare parts often need to be ordered from a manufacturer or distributor due to their specialized nature.

Spare parts can be mechanical, electronic, or electrical, and each type has its unique challenges when it comes to sourcing and stocking.

Different Types of Spare Parts

Mechanical spare parts are usually the most common. These parts can work in various machines, including cars, trucks, and other vehicles. These can include engine gaskets, bumper stickers, or brake pads.

Electronic spare parts are also common, including computer chips, memory boards, or hard drives. These parts are typically more challenging to replace and may require technical expertise or specialized tools. They also tend to be more expensive compared to mechanical spare parts.

Lastly, electrical spare parts can include alternators or other heavier-duty parts. These parts are also more challenging to replace and may require the assistance of a professional. This challenge means that not every auto shop may have them on hand.


Accessories are items not included in the initial purchase of a product. They are added to the existing object (in this case, a vehicle) to improve its performance or enhance its appearance.

Accessories include items like car stereos, sunroofs, and chrome rims. Unlike spare parts, accessories are not necessary for the functioning of the equipment, and some call them luxury items.

While the customer can install some accessories, others may require the assistance of a professional. Things like backup cameras or global positioning systems (GPS) need to be installed by someone with the proper knowledge and skillset.


Consumables are items used in the repair, maintenance, or operation of equipment. Consumable parts do not need to be replaced as often as spare parts or accessories and are usually less expensive. Everyday consumables include light bulbs, brake pads, windshield wipers, and oil filters.

If you are unsure which type of part or accessory you need for your equipment, you should consult a professional before purchasing. The experts can help you determine which type of part is right for your specific situation and explain why it is needed.

Things To Consider for Parts Management

Organizations can face many challenges when they can't appropriately manage spare parts, accessories, and consumables. To ensure effective parts management, take a look at these considerations:

Know What's Needed

Keeping track of what spare parts, accessories, and consumables are necessary for each type of equipment is crucial. Whether you use a manual or automated system to keep track of inventory, make sure you track what is needed and when. Organizations should maintain an updated list of all components to avoid downtime due to unplanned maintenance.

Create a System

Creating a system to track and manage spare parts, accessories, and consumables can help reduce downtime and ensure equipment is always running smoothly. This system should include processes for ordering new parts, tracking inventory levels, and maintaining records of receipts and shipments.

Write down the procedures currently used to manage inventory, as you can use this information to improve your system.

Organized Storage

Storing spare parts, accessories, and consumables in an organized manner can help reduce the time it takes to find and replace them. Parts should be stored in a clean, dry area and labeled clearly for easy identification.

Whether you are storing an engine or a tire, you should ensure they are always stored safely and securely.

Create a Budget for Car Parts

To make sure that you stay ahead of the parts you'll need, you should create a budget for them. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, some parts will be more expensive than others.

Having a budget will help you to decide which parts are most important to replace, and it can also lower your overall costs in the long run. It's also best to research the different parts before buying them. This research will help you get high-quality aftermarket auto body parts for a reasonable price.

Plan Ahead

Organizations should also plan for the parts they'll need for their business. This plan can include ordering replacement parts before you need them, and it can also mean stocking up on everyday consumables. Doing this can help you avoid disruptions in your business and save you money in the long run.

Maintaining an automotive parts inventory can be challenging, mainly if you work in a high-volume repair shop or dealership. But by understanding the types of car parts, you can better manage your inventory and keep your business running smoothly.

Once you know the difference between spare parts, accessories, and consumables, you can more easily purchase the correct items and keep track of what needs replacement.

So, the next time you need to replace a part or add an accessory to your car, remember these tips to ensure you get what you need.

American Modified offers top-quality automotive parts and accessories for your car, truck, or SUV. We carry everything from filters to tires, so you can find everything you need in one place.

Our team is passionate about providing our customers with the best possible experience, so shop with us today for all your automotive needs.

Spare Parts vs. Accessories vs. Consumables: What To Know
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Victoria Addington - October 27, 2023

Thank you for bringing up that because of their specialized nature, spare parts frequently needed to be obtained from a manufacturer or distributor. For his car, my son has been intending to purchase Toyota Landcruiser parts. I’ll absolutely let him know about this so he can remember it and look into trustworthy merchants that might be able to assist him. I appreciate you sharing!

Elaina D'Agostino - May 24, 2023

Thanks for explaining how a spare part is usually needed if the existing part can no longer be repaired or is too damaged to function. I am assuming these are the parts that a machine could not go without. It’s important to have spare parts in stock to avoid long downtimes in case a part needs to be replaced.

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