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Alas, there’s no real factory-direct source for things like motor oil and other basic supplies. The big retail chains are most likely your best shots, especially when the items you need turn up in their weekly or monthly sales. These places include ADAP/Auto Palace and Lappen Discount Auto Parts, along with the smaller local chains Foreign Autopart and Gem Auto Parts. Their newspaper ads will alert you to good sales.

For parts themselves, there is another road to take. When someone kindly snaps off your antenna, and your dealer says the replacements are $90 eachmost dealers seem to use the same warehouse as the Pentagonconsider a secondhand part instead. There are junkyards (er, automotive recycling centers) all over the city, filled with perfectly good parts from hood ornaments to taillights, for all makes of cars. These can cost half, or even less, of the original retail prices. Why, a rebuilt engine, at far less than the cost of a new one, can even be the difference between keeping your current car and throwing it on the junk heap yourself.

Does this mean you have to get your hands dirty? Nope. These shops have done all the picking around for you, organizing their inventory just like any retail store. The best of the bunch (nearly all, these days) are even computerized; they can find out in a jiffy whether they have a particular part. Some shops are even linked to each other, and if the place you’re asking doesn’t have what you need, they can get it within a few days. A further convenience, no doubt because of zoning laws, is that many yards are clustered together. Good neighborhoods to roam include the area between Union Square, Somerville, and Inman Square, Cambridge; Allston, near the Mass. Pike and along Western Avenue; Massachusetts Avenue and Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester; and Everett Avenue in Chelsea. Here are a few of the bigger yards:

A-M Used Auto Parts

1149 Harrison Ave. Boston; (617) 442-4629 This South End shop has a large selection of every kind of part for late-model foreign and domestic cars, including engines, transmissions, radiators, and accessories. They also have access to stock from their second branch, located in Rowley. A-M specializes in Cadillac parts, of which Mr. C’s readers may not need many; but they have plenty of supplies for other makes too. Open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5

P.M. Saturdays 8 a.m. to 3 P.M.

Borr’s Auto Parts and Sales

300 Everett Ave. Chelsea; (617) 889-0091 A huge operation near Everett Stadium, Borr’s will even let you wander around the yard and look at its collection of parts. And they have quite a lot. Nearby, Emerald Auto Parts and Sales at 177 Everett Ave. Chelsea, telephone (617) 884-6851, also has a large stock of both new and used parts. They’ll do the installing, too.

Bucky’s Auto Parts

330 Webster Ave. Cambridge; (617) 354-2255

Cambridge Auto Parts

290 River St, Cambridge; (617) 491-0111

These two yards cut a parts swath through Cambridge, from the river to Inman Square. Both are hooked up to computers, and thus to each other, for a very comprehensive selection of parts. They can tell you right away whether they have what you need, where it is, and how much it will cost. Open weekdays from 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. Saturdays from 7-2.

Some of the other yards in the same area include: Columbia Auto Parts, 305 Webster Ave. Cambridge, telephone (617) 547-1800; Nissen-baum’s Auto Parts, 480 Columbia St. Somerville, (617) 776-0194; J & A Auto Parts, 517 Columbia St. Somerville, (617) 628-4691. J & A even offers a delivery service!

Ellis the Rim Man

1001 Commonwealth Ave. Brighton; (617) 782-4777

Nothing used here, but this is a particularly big store for accessories to adom your chariot Wheel covers, air conditioners, anti-theft devices, roof racks, wiper blades, radar detectors and more are all here, many sold at discount. Ellis also specializes in

Auto JunkyardsWhen your dealer says that new headlight will cost you $500, check out your local yard instead. They’ve probably got one for $50 goodies for your jeep, van, or truck. Located near the Boston University campus, it’s open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 pm. Saturdays.

Watertown Used Auto Parts

183 Grove St, Watertown; (617) 923-1010 This huge warehouse just off Route 128 specializes in the hard-to-find. They have a tremendous amount of parts in stock, with easy access to late-model stuff. And if they don’t have your part close at hand, they’ll find it prontotheir locator service links them with 140 other businesses in the area. They also have some new items, particularly radiators, at good prices.

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