I work in the Automotive industry in a small company that supplies parts to different vehicle manufacturers. We sometimes have a hard time finding out which models our parts go into, the manufacturers being kind of secretive about this.

Dedicated third-party spare part vendors however seem to know quite well which models the respective parts fit into (see picture below). enter image description here

Now obviously there are official part catalogs with exploded views, some of which can be found online for free. But the most credible source would be the manufacturers themselves, and their publications are priced correspondingly.

Do third-party vendors buy those official publications? How is such data normally obtained (if not officially bought)?

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Back in the day when I worked in a junk yard (wreckers; breakers; whatever you want to call it), we had a look up book (before the days of computers) which was purchased from Hollander. This book provided crossover parts between all the vehicles. Looking online, I see Hollander still exists, but it appears they do it differently today. Not sure if they offer the same service as what they did before (hopefully more automated than before), but it might be a good idea to check them out. Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 17:51
  • I just stumbled across this site, which offers a subscription that grants access to the official manufacturers parts catalogs. At least it says so on the site.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 7:53
  • Third party manufactures are usually the same manufactures contracted to make the parts in the first place.
    – Moab
    Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 0:49
  • @Moab Usually, yes. But I am talking about sites on the internet that sell spare sparts. They have access to spare parts catalogs, but do not manufacture anything themselves.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 6:56

2 Answers 2


The parts manufacturer, in the example Hella, will produce a range of parts which goes into a range of cars. When the cars are new, the manufacturer of the parts will have agreements in place to supply certain products to certain vehicle manufacturers. For example, the original Volkswagen timing belt on my Mk6 Golf was marked up with Continental logos and the tensioner with a Gates stamp. I've bought fuel filters over the counter from Volkswagen that have come in VW branded packaging but with MANN manufacturers markings on them.

Many parts will not be sold exclusively to one manufacturer. The good old Pierburg 2E2 carburettor is a good example as these were used on many Vauxhall and Volkswagen cars.

The original manufacturer of the parts will know which cars their parts are going into and publish product catalogues accordingly. They'll also have their own unique parts numbering system and they will maintain "cross-part" compatibility charts.

A good example of this is the Gates product catalogue which is freely available online here; gatesautocat.com The Mintex Brake Book is another example.

It's in the suppliers best interest to ensure that their re-sellers are able to access this information freely because in this way, they are more likely to sell a higher volume of their product. If any parts reselling operation were setting up, they'd likely demand up-to-date product cross reference guides as part of the re-seller agreement.

So, in short, the best place to find this information is the parts manufacturers (not the vehicle manufacturers).

  • In addition to production plants we also supply to dedicated spare parts warehouses which are run by the same car manufacturer. That's probably where supplier parts are packaged into OEM branded boxes. We do however not have an official aftermarket, so this could be a reason we are not supplied with information regarding fitments. Your answer made me think of this, thank you.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 6:38

If you supply to different car manufacturers then you have agreements with them and they would provide parts listings and detail appropriate.

This will obviously depend on several things such as the contract and data protection for both sides...

The car manufacturers do not hand out detailed information to just anyone for good reasons and I worked at one manufacturer where the VIN could be expanded to give the original build information of the car - if you have the codes and lookup tables necessary...

  • The possibility of asking the manufacturer directly is there. However I want to be indepedent and be able to look up other parts (which we do not supply) and find out which models they go into. Therefore I thought a good starting point would be independent spare parts vendors.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 13:43

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