Written by Randy Gerdin on August 1, 2016
This month I would like to touch on a subject that is very “touchy” with some folks. This scenario happens once or twice a month, and sometimes people are not happy about it. When I speak with other shop owner I know, they all agree it can be a problem if you do and if you don’t. Most don’t. So, what’s the big issue?
This may come as a surprise to some, but the issue is we periodically have a client who would like to supply their own parts to fix their vehicle. Of course, the main reason they do this is cost. Most reputable shops will never allow someone to supply their own parts. Most shop owners are very particular about which brand of parts they use. Even within a specific brand, there are different part lines to appeal to many segments of the market. In other words, one tie-rod end may or may not be the same as a different brand of tie-rod ends. Even if you go to a dealership to get your vehicle repaired, they also have different part lines for the price conscious buyer. They are not the same as the ones that came on the vehicle from the factory. Also, the part you buy from the manufacture may not be the highest quality. There are many aftermarket manufactures that produce parts that actually exceed the quality of the original equipment items. I guess summing this all up, automotive parts are not a commodity per-se.
Back to the original subject, why most shops will not install customer supplied parts. One reason is to protect their own reputation. If a particular repair would fail, it may be misconstrued as the fault of the installer, when in fact it was an inferior part provided. Professionals also know from experience what brands of parts work well with certain vehicles and what brands do not. For example, we have found a certain well-known and high quality spark plug does not perform well with a particular vehicle. We also have learned that, in some cases, unless we go back to the vehicle dealer (even though it is much more expensive) for a particular item, the vehicle will not perform well. For most things, aftermarket parts have exceptional quality at a greatly reduced price. However, we have found better pricing at the dealer level for certain other items. That is one reason people choose to pay a professional for their services. Professionals are professionals.
One case in point, we have a commercial client who had been working on their own vehicle and the repair became more complex than they had planned. They had already purchased the part, and because of a long time personal relationship, we broke our policy and agreed to use the part they had purchased. We installed it and the vehicle would not start, so now what? Was it something we did or a problem with the part? We ended up diagnosing the problem as a failed part. The client took the part back to the parts store and they gave them a new one. We installed it, and low and behold, we had the same scenario. So again, after much time spent, we found the part to not function again. This part was an electronic part with no moving pieces, just circuit boards. We got our diagnostic hotline involved and they agreed with us. We then started researching the part number they were given. Low and behold, we discovered that they had been given the incorrect part. According to the part supplier, the part was correct, but in fact it was not. We secured the proper part numbered part, installed it, and the vehicle started right up. This was a very frustrating situation for the client, the part supplier, and us. I do believe that we would have gotten the correct part number the first time because of the methods we use to source parts.
Another reason most shops will not install customer supplied parts is that a repair shop is a business, and the parts revenue is one way that the company stays in business. I know one would not walk into a restaurant and bring their own steak to be prepared by a professional cook, because they feel that the price the restaurant charges for the steak is too high. All businesses survive, thrive, grow, and innovate based on their profits.
The final reason to let your professional shop supply the parts is in case of a part failure, you have the company’s warranty to stand behind the part they supplied. If you supply something and it does not work out, everyone loses. I Hate When That Happens!