Aftermarket Parts in the Auto Repair Shop

When you go to Home Depot or Lowes you are used to seeing brands that you are familiar with like John Deere, Honda or Scotts. These retailers are proud to be offering the products of these well respected companies and actively promote the sale of their goods and equipment. That is not always the case with auto parts.

Companies like Carquest or NAPA have supply contracts with parts companies like Gates for belts and hoses and Walker for exhaust parts. The manufacturers make their parts to the specifications of the retail marketers who put their name on them. So when you go to the auto parts store you are unaware of the manufacturer.

This is not the practice for all of the types of parts sold by NAPA or Carquest, since some of the parts like fuel pumps or oxygen sensors may be sold under the trademark of the manufacturer. Other auto parts retailers like Pep Boys have their in house brands like Prostart for alternators, starters and batteries. Who they choose as the supplier of these units may depend on outside factors like proximity to the marketplace and of course price, as well as the failure rate of the assembled part.

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Then there are the aftermarket brands of the car manufacturers. The brand names for the big three are Motorcraft for Ford, Mopar for Chrysler and AC Delco for General Motors. This is where it really gets confusing. If you shop at a Chevy dealer’s parts department, you might buy an oil filter which carries a GM part number, although it may have come from the same manufacturing plant as an AC Delco filter and also be sold at an Advance Auto Parts store.

The term that installers look for is OEM. It stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Technicians and shop owners believe that the closer they can come to OEM the better. The reason is twofold – quality and fit.

Better quality cuts down on comebacks and the need to do the job the second time for free and better fit shortens the installation time and maximizes profits. The parts houses are very aware of this and know that Koyo, for instance, is the OEM supplier for the radiator in a certain year, make and model of vehicle. If they have that part available it becomes a distinct advantage over the competition.

Failure rates of some parts can be as high as 30 percent, so any strategy is worth considering if it reduces the probability of dealing with a defective part that generates an irate customer. It may be difficult to believe but 95 percent of the burden of resolving the aftermath of a failed part is borne by the installing shop.

The replacement part, of course, is supplied for free but the labor is often attributed to the cost of doing business. Labor claims are available from some suppliers but the paperwork can be burdensome and in a busy shop the inclination is to accommodate the customer and move on.

These are some of the conditions that warrant the margins which retail auto repair shops command on the auto parts they sell. This may not be evident to the occasional DIY’er who compares prices charged when visiting a professional shop to what he has paid in the past at a store like AutoZone.

Source: Personal Experience

How to Make Auto Parts Shopping Easier on You

With the state of the economy, people are trying to save money every way possible. One such avenue is by performing vehicle maintenance on their own. While this is never an easy task, it is made much more difficult by the parts shopping task. Having to buy parts for your car is never a fun experience, but is now increasingly more important in this economic state. Here a a few tips to make it easier.

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1. HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO GET THE CORRECT PART

You may be surprised to know just how many different options there are in your vehicle you never knew about. Each vehicle package has different options that affect the part. The best way to ensure you get the correct part is to come equipped with all the information you need. Most questions can be answered by your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This will tell the parts consultant the correct year, make, package type, paint and trim color codes, key codes, and anything that came with your vehicle from the factory. The only time the VIN will do you wrong is if something on the vehicle has been changed. Your VIN can be found on your title, insurance card, and on the drivers side of your dashboard.

2. IN STORE SHOPPING IS BEST

Most customers will price shop over the phone. This is a good way to get the wrong parts. Parts terminology changes from car brand to car brand. Trying to make heads or tails over the phone makes communication more difficult. If possible, take the part with you so the consultant can get a better idea of what you need. If you can’t bring the part or vehicle with you, try to get a picture of the location or part. Cell phone cameras are perfect for this.

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Trying to make sense of what is going on with your vehicle can be difficult enough. To simplify the process it is best if the person working on the car does the talking. It is difficult for the consultant to make sense of what is really happening if they are playing a game of “Telephone” with you and others. This speeds up the process.

4. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

There is no set place for you to find the right part. Dealerships are your best option, as they can find original equipment parts. Aftermarket chains, such as Auto zone or Napa, may be able to get you a better price. A few things to consider when price shopping between these venues are:

Warranty – Never be afraid to ask what the warranty will be for your part. If there is a difference between stores, ask why.

Price- You may find that there is a significant difference in price. Double check to see what comes with the part you are buying. It may come as a whole assembly or kit from one place and be a separate component elsewhere.

Returns – Be sure what the return policy is just in case it is the wrong or not what was needed to fix the problem. As with any purchase, hold on to the receipt!!

Freight – There will be cases when parts will need to be ordered. When pricing, ask if freight is included on the price quote. It is to your advantage to know as much as possible.

5. KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Vehicles today can be very complex. Most of the electronic functions run throughout the body. Some parts may have to be “flashed” with a computer to make it function with your car. Knowing ahead of time if the part you need will requires special treatment will save you time and money. Be sure to check with your mechanic for price breaks for labor/programming. If the repairs you are trying are beyond your abilities or understanding DO NOT ATTEMPT to repair it yourself. Get with a certified mechanic to assist you. It may not be cheap, but will definitely beat the added price of additional parts and time.