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Here's a general question: How do you identify, in advance, what parts will be necessary for a repair (including all the various fasteners, o-rings, etc), and order them? Certainly for simple repairs, any consumer auto parts store / website will be able to provide. But for more specialized parts, what do you do? Or, what professional resources (distributers, catalogs, guides, etc) are available to the DIYer?

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This question seems a bit vague as it is. I think I understand what you're trying to get at, but could you edit it to be more clear and specific? –  Iszi Mar 16 '11 at 20:48
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I personally swear by Haynes manuals :) –  Joe Harper Mar 31 at 10:49
    
Haynes manuals and/or enthusiasts forums. –  Juann Strauss Mar 31 at 12:00

3 Answers 3

The best resource that I have ever used is the service manual for my vehicles. They are available at most auto parts stores. Those manuals have the "exploded" view of parts that can be rebuilt and have all the instructions that the mechanics at the dealership use. Those will list what parts you need for a particular job. Also I usually Google for something I am going to do if I have never done it before and I either find the manufacturer manual also or someone has a write up or video about how they did it and what they needed. Forums for that vehicle can be a big help also as most people on forums are DIYers.

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Also it is generally safe to assume that all gaskets will have to be replaced. This is especially true for paper ones, rubber ones can sometimes be reused if they are not too flattened or brittle. –  tgrosinger Mar 17 '11 at 22:50

The easiest way to do is by doing a checklist for most important part on regular basis as with this you will be able to know the exact condition of your vehicles parts and if you find them worn out, try to replace them as soon as possible.

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I usually have a look at youtube. There is probably a video of a guy doing exactly what you are planning to do and he will show you what you need and how to do it.

Also, get your hands on a Haynes manual for your car (if available).

If that doesn't work, as a question on a forum dedicated to your specific car brand, e.g. http://astraownersclub.com/

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