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Gonzo
Gonzo

Cheap Cigars - - - Cheap car parts, cheap cigars... not much difference

Cheap Cigars

 

Ok, I’ll admit it, I indulge in a cigar now and then, usually on the golf course, mowing the lawn, or on one of those slow days at the shop. All the cigars come in some form of a wrapper, box, or tube, but for the most part, at first glance, you can’t tell them apart. They all look the same. Some are like fine wine, while others could be compared to a well done steak; then there are those skanky-worthless-should’ve never spent money on type that smell something like moldy grass clippings rolled in rotted onions. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you they all smell like old gym socks that caught fire. (Out of respect for my dear wife I’ll keep from lighting any of them when she’s around… good or bad ones.) One thing I tend to do with everything that I’m involved with is to compare it to the trade that I’m in, cigars are no exception. And, in a way, choosing a good cigar is like choosing good automotive parts. As with stogies and car parts, there are cheap ones, good ones, super expensive ones, and some that are moderately priced.

 

Cheap parts and quality parts look entirely the same in their box or wrapper. From the average consumer’s vantage point the cheaper components most certainly will do the job vs. the better brands. Why? Price obviously. Although asking a pro which one you should purchase might make all the difference in the world. Those discount brands might come in a nice neat package, but it’s what’s in the package that counts. An expert would know right off hand which is a good discount brand, and which isn’t. Obviously, we all don’t want to over pay for anything, but we want to get the best value for our dollar. Hey, I’m the same way. Just as the old saying implies, “You get what ya paid for” it’s as true as ever…and always will be.

 

I’ve spent decades explaining the virtues of quality parts and service vs. subpar parts and service to clients and prospective customers. And, a lot of what I know is from experience. Some understand it, or have already been down the cheap road and ended up with that second trip back to the service center. Others, even with the best explanations given to them, still have to make that journey before the results and their wallet notice the real issues at hand.

 

Of course the other side of the repair business is when I’m asked to look at a car with a problem, and I find the problem is related back to one of those cheap parts someone else installed. One particular part that is extremely common is the ICP on the Ford Taurus (Integrated Control Panel). Since the radio and the HVAC are combined into one unit, it’s not uncommon to find an aftermarket ICP with an aftermarket radio in it. The plastic is brittle, thin, and breaks with just a twitch. Then there are the starters, alternators, blower motors, brake pads, and suspension parts that all have their discount brand versions. And, from first glance…in or out of the box…they look the same.

 

After a few decades and quite a few failed attempts with some of these off brands (not to mention a few new offshore brands just now coming in), I can tell the difference either by brand name, where it was purchased, or just the condition of it. (Needless to say, I’m learning the same with the cigars too…slowly of course.) Now, if after giving my little disclaimer to the customer about a cheaper part, and they still insist on the lower quality part, I emphasize a written disclaimer to go along with the repair. (Better safe than sorry…Mainly because I don’t want to be the recipient of the butt end of the cigar when the ashes start to fall.)

 

So the next time you’re confronted with the decision of whether to purchase a brand name component or a discount brand, ask the expert… your mechanic, before you lay out your hard earned cash. They’ll know whether or not you’re buying a decent part at a decent price, and not just getting a whole lot of nasty smoke in your face from a cheap cigar.

 

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Gonzo, I think these day we have a better chance at finding a good cigar than we do finding quality parts. The problems are endless. And I can't say it's just one or two companies, it's epidemic around the industry. And even though you point out that you have learned through the years the liability with buying cheap parts, it's gotten worse.

 

For 33 years I bought reman starters and alternators from a local rebuilder. They did everything in house. If they did not have a unit they would rebuild the one we took out of the car. The failure rate? Near zero!

 

Well, with this race to the bottom with pricing, and with new units from the Asian markets, rebuilding was no longer a viable option. So, now we buy these NEW units, with a high failure rate. We see the same with NEW axles, a very high failure rate. This is an issue we have tossed around for some time now and it may become our demise.

 

How long would Apple stay in business if 20% of its products failed?????

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The reason for this article is exactly what you stated Joe. I've been running across a huge number of aftermarket crappy parts in the last 6 months... more than I ever have before.

They (my editors at the magazines) wanted something about aftermarket parts from the mechanics point of view.

 

Can't stand cheap parts and can't stand cheap cigars. Goes hand in hand. LOL

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And it seems the race to the bottom is all-inclusive. There used to be a time when you could count on the quality of a particular brand, now it seems even some well known brands are sometimes no better that the white-box stuff. Maybe there really is just 1 factory pumping out all this stuff, the only difference is the color of the box. At least the factory stuff seems a safe bet...for now.

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Gonzo, you are right on target. We need to push the issue. We do have influence you know. Comebacks are hurting our reputation and consumer confidence and we should let our part suppliers know how we feel.

 

In the end the customer's perception is key. And if their perception is that we are selling low quality parts, we all suffer.

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