Looking for ways to save money on car repairs? Regularly maintaining your vehicle – think oil changes and tire rotations – is the best way for an automotive technician to keep an eye on your vehicle health. That way, items that require attention won’t be left to deteriorate to the point of major parts breaking, which could get far more expensive than your budget allows. Just like preventative dental care, regular car care can identify and stave off big, expensive issues.
Another way to save on car repairs is by bringing your own auto parts to a mechanic. There’s often a 25-50% markup on parts, and that number will often be lower for high-dollar parts, and higher for low-dollar parts. The markup helps shops to pay their rent, employees, pay for pricey equipment, and to make some money – after all, they’ve got to remain in business, right?
However, while it may save you a few bucks, you may be wondering, “Will a mechanic even install parts I buy?” In the long run, it’s usually not a great idea.
Here’s why –
- You are responsible for your parts’ performance, so they won’t be under warranty.
Let’s say you’ve found a great deal on brake pads at AutoZone, so you bring them to the shop for your mechanic to install. Seems harmless, right? Not so fast.If the brakes you had bought, and have a professional technician install, wind up failing, you are responsible for those parts, because they won’t have been covered under the shop’s warranty. Why not? The shop may not have recommended those parts for your vehicle. Those parts could have been made with subpar materials, or might fit your vehicle improperly, resulting in poor performance. If you bring your own parts, shops can only warranty their own labor, meaning they would re-install something that weren’t installed properly, but they wouldn’t cover the parts you’d sourced within the warranty.Here’s another way to look at it, courtesy of Bob Chandler, Bonded Transmission & Auto Repair’s service advisor: “Would you bring your steak to the restaurant and ask them to cook it?”Sure, you could buy a steak yourself for much less than you’d pay for it at a restaurant, which would never allow you to bring your own. They wouldn’t be able to confirm its freshness, and might be worried you’d complain about the taste, when they never would have served you that type of steak in the first place.
- The shop could be held legally liable if your critical parts were to fail.
If a shop had installed a part that you had bought, and that part failed and caused an accident, the shop could be held legally liable. Matt Weber, owner of Clark’s Car Care, explained that a court will almost always rule against an auto-repair business, saying it shouldn’t have installed a customer-supplied part whose performance it couldn’t guarantee.Why does that matter? Many shop owners have poured their life savings into their businesses, and the liability for installing a part you had purchased, in order to save a few bucks, isn’t worth that risk to a business owner’s personal and professional livelihoods. For that reason alone, many shops will decline installing customer-bought parts. It’s unfair to blame them for not wanting to take the risk of installing the parts you’ve purchased.
- You might not be right.
Automotive repair businesses invest a great deal of money into diagnostic equipment, and into employing and continuing education for their technicians. Unless you’re mechanically inclined, and are able to pinpoint the exact issue, to determine what’s wrong with your car, or why your check-engine light is on, your vehicle is best left in skilled hands to first determine what’s wrong, and next determine which part or parts will need replacing.
- It’s a hassle.
What if you had bought the wrong parts, or if they’re incompatible with additional parts that the shop is providing? You might need to head back to the auto parts store, or wait while you request another part to be shipped. Remember – your time is valuable, and could be spent doing more productive things than having to order auto parts, and potentially package and ship incorrect ones for return.
- You might not get the best parts for the job.
Auto-repair businesses have long-standing relationships with parts suppliers. Those relationships allow shops to call in favors for quick deliveries from local parts-distribution centers, and suppliers will often recommend superior parts for the job. Sure, it may seem as though parts suppliers have a vested interest in recommending more expensive parts, but in reality, they wouldn’t dare jeopardize an important relationship with a client (the shop) by recommending a poorly-performing part. Those parts-supplier representatives receive training on the latest technology, and have the advantage of receiving real-world performance and warranty information from shop owners and operators. The relationship that your local auto-repair business has with its parts supplier is an advantage that the average vehicle owner wouldn’t likely have after having glanced at a couple of automotive forums.Here’s an example of Tuan, a vehicle owner who had requested OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts for his Subaru. The shop owner had recommended a part that performs better an longer than his vehicle manufacturer’s parts.
Sufficiently convinced that your auto parts and labor work should be performed by a skilled technician? Openbay can help you to compare, book and pay for service with a local auto repair business. Drive safely!
Shops! Tell us your opinion. Are there times you’d allow a customer to bring their own parts? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish a follow-up piece.