Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
10/15/20 8:14 a.m.

The first time I went to a British Motor Trade Association meeting, some years ago, much of the conversation centered around the poor quality of some of the aftermarket parts that were being produced for our beloved old cars. I have to confess, my initial reaction was bored skepticism. I figured it was just a bunch of business owners complaining about an influx of lower-priced competition, since the problem hadn’t really affected me yet.

Since then, I have been left stranded on a rally in my TR6 with a bad master cylinder that was just six months old. On that same TR6, I installed a new mirror that lost its chrome in less than a year. And I have replaced strut rod bushings three times in 500 miles on my Shelby Mustang.

Most recently, I have just finished a Mini restoration and have been plagued with parts problems from a number of sources.

Read the rest of the story

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 SuperDork
10/15/20 8:33 a.m.

Five years on this remains a serious issue. The quality remains far below the original equipment across the board. The cost to produce the poor part is little less than making it correct or better than original, it is just plain sloppy on the manufacturing side.

Coupefan
Coupefan Reader
10/15/20 2:56 p.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Two points, one of which was iterated in the story:

1.  We're cheap, we're not willing to pay top dollar for replacement parts.  That's reflected in the product.

2.  "The cost to produce the poor part is little less than making it correct or better than original..." Yes, I know, I'm a production engineer, but...have you dealt with the multitudes of MBA types in Corporate America today?  The 'race to the bottom' is alive and well and shows no signs of abatement.  

 

sir_mike
sir_mike New Reader
10/15/20 3:35 p.m.

A few months back I bought off Ebay a Lucas Sport Coil...at least that was what the ads picture showed.When it arrived it was not a Lucas coil.Some cheaply made Chineese part.Fought with them and rec'd my full refund and they didn't want the coil back.Might be good but I don't trust using it.

cosworth1
cosworth1 New Reader
10/15/20 4:15 p.m.

Good article, with good points made. One other point to be made: When a supplier sells you a quality piece, that fits correctly and is the genuine article, let them know that. A simple e-mail will do, letting them know that you will be coming back. It will just let them know they are on the right track, and should stay there. Same thing with service companies. If you just had some chrome plating done, and it came out nuts, let them know it.

After that, its up to them whether they just want to cheap out, make mega money, and probably go out of business, or if they want to retain the same quality of product and service that they have been.

matthewmcl (Forum Supporter)
matthewmcl (Forum Supporter) Reader
10/15/20 4:31 p.m.
TurnerX19 said:

The cost to produce the poor part is little less than making it correct or better than original, it is just plain sloppy on the manufacturing side.

This assumes you have:

1. Properly trained workers. For overseas work this can be almost impossible. Even down in Mexico this can be tricky.  I had a coworker who had been helping set up a factory in Mexico years back. The average retention for employees was about 6 weeks.  Many would not even make it all of the way through training. The company he worked for eventually gave up.

2. Proper materials.  Buying materials that come with material certs is hit or miss if you source from China.  They are not going to bother above and beyond that to put the correct materials into locally produced goods. You can't make top products from substandard materials and you can't always trust that the materials received are in fact what they are labelled or whether they were actually processed correctly.  It is not like the only ones cutting corners were at final assembly.

Properly trained inspection people are difficult to train and keep, as compared to a typical factory worker. That additional labor/equipment cost can be significant, and for a supplier that plans on being a different company name next year (or next month), what does it really matter?

stylngle2003
stylngle2003 Reader
10/15/20 5:14 p.m.
Coupefan said:

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Two points, one of which was iterated in the story:

1.  We're cheap, we're not willing to pay top dollar for replacement parts.  That's reflected in the product.

2.  "The cost to produce the poor part is little less than making it correct or better than original..." Yes, I know, I'm a production engineer, but...have you dealt with the multitudes of MBA types in Corporate America today?  The 'race to the bottom' is alive and well and shows no signs of abatement.  

 

*cough* Not all "MBA types" exhibit these behaviors...

Coupefan
Coupefan Reader
10/15/20 5:52 p.m.

In reply to stylngle2003 :

My apologies.  That was a broad and unfair observation. I have in fact (quite refreshingly) worked with many who didn't follow a scorched earth philosophy to the next quarterly report.  There was still a shred of humanity within them. 

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
10/16/20 1:14 p.m.

I am suspicious some of this is related to the lack of use of many of the cars these parts go on.  Most classic cars are barely driven and will not notice a bad part for a long time.

If you like to drive your car though... bad news.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
10/18/20 1:18 p.m.

The irony (for sellers) is that while owners are only willing to pay for cheap Chinese chrome parts, they are the first to complain when the thin flashing of chrome deteriorates (in as little as a year).

I have talked to some of the vendors who tell me that stocking a premium bumper, for instance, at double the price or more is loser for them as the cheap car owners would apparently rather buy a new cheap version every couple of years, carping and bitching as they go, than pay just once for a premium product.  (insert emoticon rolling eyes)

oneway
oneway New Reader
10/19/20 8:05 p.m.

Being employed the past 5 years by a nationwide auto parts store has certainly been an education for me.  I really love my job and the company that signs my paycheck but it amazes me how customers will request right up front, " Just give me the cheapest one"  without even considering the better quality part which is sometimes just a few dollars more.  Price rules the consumers in our current culture.  On the flip side, profit rules the suppliers in our current culture.  The cost of most of these inferior parts is so low that a lifetime warranty is offered and the supplier can afford to replace it several times without severely affecting profit.  Talking with our corporate loss prevention auditor about how it bothers me how many of the impulse items under our front counters are stolen- it takes about 3-4 weeks on the small cheap impulse flashlights in the dislay of 10-he understood my frustration but said not to let it bother me.  If we sold just 1 flashlight out of the 10, we did not lose money.  Not sure what the profit % is on repair parts but they don't seem to have a big issue with warranty returns or replacements.  Keep the customers happy.  They are happiest when the parts are cheap and can get it replaced if it fails or just does not work or fit quite right.  In the past couple of years I have noticed a slight increase in the number of parts with "MADE IN USA" stamped on the box.  A step in the right direction.  Thanks for your time, John-Lugoff, SC

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