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.
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