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It's clear to me that car parts are cheaper when purchased online rather than through the mechanic. I've been buying tires and brake pads online for years with few problems.

Now the wheel bearings on my 2009 Toyota Prius need replaced. I want to buy the replacements online and have the local Toyota dealership install them. I already checked with them to see if they would, and they will.

I want to make sure I'm getting the right parts. Buying tires and brakepads are easy, but how can I ensure that I'm getting the right parts to fit my car? I'm not looking for a subjective answer like the best brand or the best wheel bearing alloys; all I want to know is: how I can be sure the parts are compatible?

Should I read the owners manual? Should I check what's already on my car? Is there some database I should use?

Please answer my specific question as well as provide general guidance for buying compatible parts for cars.

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Toyodiy.com (specific to Toyota) will help you out, enter the VIN number and you'll get everything you need. But calling the dealer will also works. – Gabriel Mongeon Sep 10 '13 at 18:14
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The simplest thing to do is to phone the dealership, ask them to give you the part number for the wheel bearing, and then do a google search for that part number, or go to your favourite online shop and enter the part number into the search box. Part numbers are unique to a particular car or range of cars.

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In the case of Toyotas, the big online supply houses are actually run by dealers that have the parts catalogs online. Super easy to look up your vehicle and get part numbers and order. – Brian Knoblauch Sep 10 '13 at 20:26
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I've found that most sites require you to know the part number before you start searching, which is kind of annoying. – Juann Strauss Sep 11 '13 at 8:40

Not endorsing anyone, but the Amazon compatibility tool that pops up on their site when you're searching for car parts has never steered me wrong, assuming you can match the exact part number to the one provided by whoever you're buying the parts from.

Searching a Prius specific forum would also be a good place to find specific part numbers and compatibility info.

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I have had it fail me once, but they took the part back without any issue. – ᴘᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 28 at 1:09
    
Would definitely not trust the compatibility tool, I've had specialized sites let me down. Part number matching is the only way to go. – I have no idea what I'm doing Jan 28 at 8:15

You can use a parts fiche (aka parts diagram) to get the correct part number. However, things like bearings are usually standard metric sizes so there might be a few manufacturers making the right sized bearing and 'Prius front wheelbearing' is probably enough to identify it.

http://toyota.epc-data.com/ is your friend. The Russian language version of it also has the parts diagrams but may not cover the model you need.

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