Brain Candy

Five Strategies for Finding Out-of-Stock Parts

What to do if you can't find a rare, discontinued, or simply hard to find part, and your favorite repair site doesn't stock it.

Try as we might, iFixit can’t sell every part for every device that needs fixing, whether due to price, demand, logistics, or some mix of all three. So we sometimes find ourselves with guides explaining every step of installing a part—except the first step, obtaining it.

Where should you go if iFixit doesn’t have your rare, discontinued, or simply hard to find part? We recommend a few approaches.

In our warehouse, upside down boxes indicate out of stock product.

Use exact part names and numbers for the best results

The first step is learning the specific name, or number, to identify the thing you want. You might call it a “OnePlus Nord battery,” but most vendors know it as the BLP785. It’s written on the battery itself: Model:BLP785. Search for numbers associated with “Model,” “Item,” “Part,” or similar language, usually written on the part itself.

If you can’t find a part ID (or the identifier has been damaged), you can: 

  • Use our guides to find images of the part you’re looking for
  • Do a web search with model/item/part keywords (“OnePlus Nord battery part number,” “OnePlus Nord battery model number,” etc.)
  • Search eBay with a general part name (and use those images or text to get the part number)
OnePlus battery inside phone
Finding the model number on a OnePlus Nord.

Once you’ve got a part number, it’s easier to find sellers. Search that number on Google, Ebay, Amazon, or AliExpress (I found this OnePlus Nord battery on all of them using “BLP785”).

Using part numbers also avoids compatibility issues between similar but not identical models. You can’t use the battery from a Galaxy S20 in a Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example. The circuit board from a Kenmore 123XYZ may work inside a Kenmore 123XYZe, or it may not. But with a part number, you can be fairly certain.

Order direct to the manufacturer

Sometimes you strike out, even with a part number. It might be old, obscure, or not commonly repaired. You’ve still got a few options.

Cables and grommets on sale for Baratza coffee grinders.
The kinds of parts available if you need to fix your Baratza Encore grinder.

One is to contact the device’s maker and ask where to find a part. It’s not the most likely solution, but some companies don’t publicly sell parts. Or they distribute parts through a third-party vendor. I’ve had luck asking the companies behind a cheap coffee grinder and an  electronic pet food dispenser for parts before.

If you’re looking for low-level electronics parts—resistors, capacitors, chips, and such—Hackaday and ladyada have guides to getting samples and parts from distributors like Digi-Key, Sparkfun, Parts Express, and more.

Try third-party parts vendors (especially for appliances)

If you’re looking for parts for a refrigerator, microwave, washer, dryer, dishwasher, or other large appliance, searching the part number or the device’s model number on the web will likely bring up e-commerce parts depots that exist solely for this kind of search.

Microwave diode and door switch at a parts vendor site.
$26 for a diode is pricey. But it’s also in-stock.

Don’t expect a discount. Pricing spare appliance parts is a tricky dance. $130 for the small circuit board inside your stove’s control panel might seem expensive, but it’s still less than buying a replacement stove.

You’ll have to weigh the likelihood of that part fixing your broken appliance against paying for that part and then a new device anyways. Do as much research as you can before you commit; you might find alternate fixes for your problem, or other people who tried the same fix you’re attempting.

If web searching, third-party warehouses, and company contact still leave you hanging, there’s a tried, true, but sometimes tricky route to continue on.

Harvest from “as-is,” “parts only,” and “donor” devices

"Parts only" listing of Nintendo Switch on eBay
“For parts or not working” is a no-go for some. For you, the parts-seeker? That’s gold, Jerry.

For rare, hard to find, discontinued, or just unavailable parts, you might have to buy more than just the part. You might have to buy an entire logic board just to pop off the bit you need. Or a whole “assembly,” “top case,” or the like. 

But sometimes you might have to buy a whole device, listed as “for parts” or “parts only.” You take your device with a broken screen and give it the screen from a device with a broken charging port, and now you’ve got one working device.

Some parts-only sellers will detail which parts of the device work and don’t work. Others will offer only “Won’t turn on,” “Doesn’t charge,” or similar statements. You want maximum info when you’re buying a “donor” device—it’s almost always worth a small difference in price. 

If you’re not sure whether something works, or need more detail on anything, contact the seller and ask. If they don’t respond, or can’t provide more details, and the amount of unknowns still seems high, move on. 

Where do you find “for parts” devices? Where you find most used stuff: eBay. You might be able to find overstock, liquidation, or other vendors through specialty forums or sub-Reddits for the device you’re looking into. But generally, unless you’re buying dozens of items at a time as a working repair shop, the marketplace for one-off semi-busted stuff is eBay. 

Description of Parts Only Nintendo Switch from eBay listing
The kinds of descriptions you can sometimes get when you’re buying from repair/refurbish sites on eBay.

The good news is that many repair shops, specialty vendors, and recyclers sell on eBay. These vendors often provide richer detail for products, often because their target audience is other repair-minded folks. Some will even inspect and test items.

Still, if the description is vague, or the seller can’t respond, move on. Refunding/returning a part on eBay can be more hassle than through a retail vendor, especially if your reason is simply “this didn’t fix my unrelated problem.”

Google Alerts, saved searches, and in-stock notifications

Google alert set up for "2017 Ford Focus" wiper sensor.
You never know when someone will write a whole blog post/Reddit rant/store comment about your exact problem.

If nothing comes up in your initial searches, don’t give up. Set up Google alerts, and create saved searches and alerts on Reddit, eBay, Twitter, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and specialty forums, as well as in-stock notifications on whatever vendors you can find.

Set up in-stock notifications

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that iFixit offers its own in-stock notifications on parts pages. 

Ask the community

Finally, if you do find the right part and make the fix, or could use some help finding one, tell our community about it: in the comments for the specific repair guide, or look to see if anyone is trying your same fix in the Answers forum. You can still contribute even if things go badly, you give up, or you end up ditching your attempted fix: you can often sell off parts from that item to others looking for a fix.