Can I save money by bringing my own parts to the mechanic
At least once a week I see an auto forum poster say they can get auto parts cheaper than the mechanic’s quote. They want to know if they “can I bring my own parts to a mechanic” and have them install them.
First, you have to understand the difference in the price you got and the price the mechanic quoted. These days auto parts stores sell at least two different quality levels of parts. Most chain operated retail auto parts stores push their own private labeled parts because they make more money on them. But my experience has been that those parts are absolute garbage. They’re cheap Chinese knock-offs with zero quality control. I will never install those parts on my cars or those of my friends. Then there are name brand professional grade parts aftermarket parts. Those are high quality parts made by reputable manufacturer and sold under their real name, not the name of the auto parts store. In many cases, those parts are equal to the quality of the parts sold by the car maker—but not always. Because when it comes to sensors, nothing beats the quality of a genuine OEM parts.
Many shops have been burned by using name brand aftermarket sensors. So they only install OEM parts from the dealer. If that’s what the shop is quoting, you simply can’t compare the parts price you got from the auto parts store to the price of the part from the mechanic, because you’re not comparing apples-to-apples. You comparing OEM to garbage.
Next, if the shop takes the time to call the auto parts store or dealer and wait for the part to arrive, they usually mark up the price. The average markup ranges from 33% to 50%. Don’t forget, they run a business. And when they install a part, they have to back it up with some kind of warranty. Somebody has to pay for that risk and it’s always going to be the customer. Plus, the shop is in business to make profit. Name a business that isn’t going to mark up the price of the goods they sell.
Now let’s talk about what happens when you waltz in with your own parts. First, bringing in your own parts is like bringing your own ham and eggs to a restaurant and asking them to cook your breakfast for you. There isn’t a restaurant in the world that would do that for you. It’s insulting to the restaurant and it’s just as insulting to the shop. You may as well tell the mechanic he’s not entitled to make a living.
Most mechanics won’t install customer supplied parts. That’s because customers usually buy the economy versions or “universal” that are junk and don’t fit properly. Then, if the part doesn’t work, the customer blames the mechanic. And, if the part fails, the customer blames the mechanic. It’s a lose-lose situation for the shop. They have to fight to make a junk part fit. They lose the profit on the part. And they get blamed when the part doesn’t work.
Some shops will install customer supplied parts, but they charge a higher labor rate—one that’s based on the actual time it takes to install, rather than the flat rate shown in their labor guide. Why should the shop take the hit because you bought an economy part?
Overall, bringing your own parts is a really bad idea. So don’t get offended when the shop says no.
©, 2013 Rick Muscoplat