The Internet has made a lot of great information available around the world. All of my businesses use the Internet for their websites, for seeking information, and for accessing paid information websites. We used to buy thousands of dollars of books on automotive repair annually; now we use automotive repair websites such as mitchell1.com or alldata.com. We pay more than $1,000 per month to use these sites and others for our shops.
When repairing or servicing a vehicle, it is important to use high quality, reputable parts. We identify these high quality components thanks to years of installing brand name parts and monitoring their successful results.
All parts, whether rebuilt or new, are not created equal. For example, I formerly used a particular rebuilder of starters and alternators, but the customer comeback rate – this refers to a vehicle not repaired properly the first time – regarding those parts was more than 50 percent. It took me about four months to realize that these remanufactured parts were very low quality.
Bosch, a major player in the world of automotive electrical parts, offers quality remanufactured parts. Here is an interesting twist; I once quoted to a customer a price on a remanufactured Bosch alternator, but the customer said he could get a remanufactured alternator at half the cost. With some investigation, I discovered that what the customer was buying was a Bosch alternator remanufactured by a low quality company; sure it was a “Bosh” alternator that was remanufactured, but it was not an alternator remanufactured by Bosch. See the difference?
So many poor quality parts are available on the Internet. Delco, a very prominent manufactory of original parts for General Motors and others, has quality parts. However, on the Internet I have seen nearly identical copies of Delco’s boxes containing very poor quality parts. It is easy to get fooled on the Internet.
One of the world’s largest automotive aftermarket shows, SEMA, is held in Las Vegas annually. The show displays more than 2,000 new products and features more than 2,300 exhibitors in the huge Las Vegas Convention Center. The place is filled with aftermarket parts for automotive businesses, but when at the show, I have no idea what is quality and what is not.
In our business, we use only quality parts from well-known suppliers. This keeps our customers happy with quality parts and repairs and it keeps the comeback rate low.
We do make a profit on parts; we get a better price then the general public does because we buy thousands of dollars worth of parts per month. We also know what quality is and stand behind parts with a good warranty. If a part fails in the warranty period, we will replace it for free; and no, most parts manufactures don’t pay us for that replacement labor.
Trust in your automotive shop to choose parts that are of high quality to provide you with trouble-free driving. After all, as Ben Franklin said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
Are all service recommendations/repairs necessary? As in life, in auto repair not everything is black and white; there are many shades of gray regarding repairs needed and not needed. Each customer has a different “risk tolerance,” too. Our shops use the following scale from 1 to 5, 5 being the severest repair needed, to ensure our standards are high;
#1 This is mere observation. I would not, under any circumstance, recommend this repair, but it shows the customer we are checking the car out completely.
#2 This is not a problem but it gives the technicians something to keep an eye on the next time the car is in for service. Examples include shocks with a very small amount of fluid on them; an oil seep; a water pump with a small amount of stain on it; a possibility of a wheel bearing noise.
#3 This problem is more in the line of preventive maintenance or a suggested repair before a long trip. Examples include coolant dirty but engine protection OK; dirty brake fluid; a small amount of fluid in back of a master cylinder; spark plugs wearing down but far from worn out.
#4 This problem is bad, but the car can be driven short distances with caution and should not be driven out of town. Examples include a water pump leaking all the time; a clutch bad enough that the driver can’t make it over hills in high gears; the upper seam of the radiator leaking; a bad wheel bearing but the car can be driven in town; a poor running car that needs tuning; front or rear brakes below the recommended specs.
#5 This problem is very severe and needs immediate attention. Examples include no brakes; a coolant leak so bad that water cannot be kept in the system; a water pump so loose that it may dislodge the fan through the radiator; a wheel bearing bad enough that a wheel could fall off while driving.
On a side note, my favorite new vehicle gadget is the rear traffic detector in my 2018 Subaru. This system detects people, trees or cars behind me, even cars approaching when I’m backing out of a driveway or a parking lot. It has saved me from a possible accident more than once in the past five months.