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Joe Marconi

Advance,CARQUEST, NAPA and the rest: You need a wakeup call!

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This past week we installed a set of brake rotors and pads on dual rear wheel, 2005 F550 Dump. Those of you that have done this job know that this it is considerably more work than a passenger car. On the road test we heard a scraping noise from the wheels. It would come and go and sometimes even go away when you applied the brakes. After numerous times pulling the brake rotors off (which is very time consuming) we could not understand what was happening.

 

We did see marks on the backing plate where we believed the inside of the rotor was hitting. We decided to call the supplier and order another set of rotors. We installed the new rotors and the noise was still there, but different. Again we removed the rear brakes and rotors to take a look.

 

We tried repositioning the backing plate, but no luck. I could see my techs and manager was getting frustrated. I told my manager to order a set of pads and rotors from the local Ford dealer.

 

We installed the Ford parts and the noise was gone! The back of the aftermarket rotors were not the same quality as the Ford Rotors.

 

I am not going to say what aftermarket part company I bought these parts from, because I feel the quality of parts these days is an industry problem, not isolated to just one company. But I do have a personal message: NAPA, CARQUEST, Advance, O’Reilly’s, AutoZone and all the rest…Wake up!

 

This race to the bottom supplying us with cheaper and cheaper parts needs to stop. It is killing us. In your effort to give us a cheaper part, you are compromising quality. You can have cheap parts or quality parts, but not both. Choose one!

 

It’s not just one part line; the problem of poor quality is rampant.

 

The automotive aftermarket repair shop was always known for its quality. Now we are in jeopardy of losing that status. If the consumer’s perception of aftermarket is subpar with new car dealers, this will be our demise.

 

I urge shop owners to also take a long hard look at this issue too. If we focus on cheap part prices only, the race to the bottom will be littered with casualties.

 

PS: I have heard all the arguments: overseas cheap labor, competition from China, the unions in the USA, shop owners want cheap parts, if we don't have cheap parts we will loose business, our margins are thin as it is, we are forced to go to foreign countries. DID I FORGET ANY???

 

All these excuses will not amount to anything when we fail as an industry.

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