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Outside parts accepted at repair shops?


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I recently found a shop I liked because they have been very responsive and do the work on the schedule they have agreed to, have found problems other shops have missed or couldn't figure out, etc. My first major repair job was replacement of an A/C compressor, and they let me bring in a part (OE part purchased on the Internet for about 50% what the shop would have charged for the same part). Now, I have a car with a blown turbo and this shop has suddenly developed a policy prohibiting bring in parts from outside. In this case, the part/assembly from a major internet supplier offering perpetual parts warranties is about 50% of the price being charged by the shop for the same part, although they provide a 3 year warranty. I deal with other shops who don't have a problem with me bringing in parts.

 

I am wondering what others have experienced WRT this issue.

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They make plenty of money on labor. They charge $100+ per hour and likely pay the techs half of that.

 

Yes,  they make (and need to make) money on parts, but they have no real motivation to find reasonable prices. A 50% upcharge doesn't seem reasonable.

Edited by Chris_B
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Lotta times, "it depends."  If you take an older car (like our 02s) to a shop that generally works on much newer stuff--and they're lucky enough to have a mechanic that actually knows how to diagnose/repair computer-bereft cars like ours--they may not have a clue as to where they can find the parts to repair.  In such cases, when I hear the service writer say, "we can't get the parts for a car that old" I pipe up and say--"I have a source"--then they're gonna be willing to let you bring in the parts.

 

Some shops won't even do that--they'll turn down the job--because if a customer-furnished part goes south, they don't want to have to eat the labor to replace it, as they won't have a supplier to go after if the part fails.  

 

More recently a local shop that specializes in older imports (bless their hearts!) were happy to install a low mileage steering box that I had (and tested to make sure it was tight and not leaking).  And while they were doing it, discovered a worn center track rod and bad front wheel bearing that I otherwise might not have noticed.  So we both made out on that one.  And the same shop has also told me they'd install the low mileage LSD I scored for my 318is.  In both cases, the shop wouldn't have been able to find the parts so where happy to charge labor to install mine.  

 

So..."it depends."

 

mike

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Smart to ask them first before you buy the part. If you like the shop and they do good work at reasonable prices, I think you're way ahead of the game these days. Or maybe you should go try and find another shop? Good luck with that.

 

Ever hear of having your cake....?

 

It's like the guy who brings his own steak to a restaurant and asks the chef to cook it and have the servers bring it to his table. Come on man!

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Used to do this with a shop that worked on my E30. They were cool with it but I stopped after 2 visits with them. As I got to know the shop owner and techs better, I learned way more about wrenching from them faster than I would have on my own, and their parts prices were only slightly higher (usually) than going to FCP. They also were amazing with my son and his budding interest in all things mechanical, showing him around the shop and sending him a couple small BMW toys just because.

 

As a result, I’ve spent a pretty penny with them over the years, but all of the above made me feel like it was well worth it.

 

Eventually sold the E30, and have done about 95% of my own work on the 02, so I haven’t visited them much lately other than to talk cars with the owner and update him on my progress. If you find a good, honest shop, in my head they deserve the margin. 

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I had a Z3 sometime back and took it to a McBrake place for rotors and pads replacement. I checked with the local dealership for parts pricing and then got the estimate for parts from McBrakes. Their parts prices where significantly higher than the dealership that I consider the upper end of the price spectrum. I was able to negotiate the parts price down to slightly below the dealership when I asked them to consider the dealership parts price. Doesn't always work, but doesn't hurt to ask. 

I do agree though with others here that if you're seeking their services; shop tools, shop rules.

 

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A few comments on this subject…

 

One that I’ve heard from a long time famous Berkeley BMW shop owner, recently retired. And I’m paraphrasing here… “Would you bring your own steak to a restaurant to have the chef cook it for you? I think not.”

 

Now, I do know of restaurants connected with fishing boats that will cook what you catch. But that’s very special circumstances.

 

As for specialist repair shops, and I’ve been involved in the industry one way or another my entire life. All repair shops have a ton of overhead, in the rent, waste oil removal, labor, etc., and making money on parts is actually a BIG part of their business. Most shops that work on daily driver modern cars like to source parts from their own suppliers. Even though many customers have access to look up and buy parts off the internet for sometimes less than the shop can even get them for from their regular suppliers. That doesn’t mean the shop is gonna go all over shopping for the best price. They have a good relationship with their suppliers, and that includes whatever warranty comes with those parts, and the brand knowledge too. A shop just can’t keep track of where they got every part if they have to shop all over for best price. It’s too much effort to figure out who’s gonna warranty what.

 

Lets say you have a shop do the regular thing and supply all the parts for a given job. They warranty all those parts, and their labor to replace the part if it fails within the warranty period. When you supply said parts, the shop doesn’t have to warranty their labor, unless it’s an error of installation. Meaning, if you supply a part, the shop installs it, and it fails, you have to pay all the labor to have them replace it again.

 

That’s for modern cars, and easily accessible parts. As for older cars that sometimes need parts to be sourced from alternative places, and sometimes from all over the world. Some of those parts have no warranty. Either because they’re used, NOS, or whatever. Some shops have been doing the old car thing and have a number of connections they can call on to source parts, others don’t. Sometimes the customer has a different connection than the shop and can source something that the shop either can’t or would take labor time to call all over… Part of sourcing old car parts is the time it takes to track them down, and that costs money too. Costs them money, which costs you that money.

 

It all comes down to your relationship with a given shop and the ease of sourcing parts for whatever year of car.

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Luckily most shops I've dealt with are willing to accommodate me bringing in some of my own parts if they're ones that aren't readily available or there's a long wait time to get them from let's say "BMW".  For common stuff, not so much.  I understand that it's a big part of how they make money so I try not to push it too much.  For certain items like a guibo, I want to make sure it's the OEM BMW part and not some aftermarket crap, so that's where I might bring in my own stuff or have to wait for them to get the part that I want even if it takes longer.

 

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