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Old 09-29-2003, 03:33 PM
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Will Mechanics Install Customer Supplied Parts?

There are situations where I can do my own diagnosis and know where to purchase parts at deep discount (internet).

Sometimes I don't have the tools or expertise to install parts and sometimes I can't diagnose a problem. I deal with a local independent mechanic for work I can't do and so far he supplies and installs the parts. I would like to supply my own parts for economic reasons whenever possible. I don't want to upset my relationship with my mechanic.

I have two Mercedes cars.

Can anyone here (mechanic or consumer) comment on their experience with this subject?

Thank you.

Last edited by ezrider; 09-29-2003 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 09-29-2003, 03:58 PM
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If you supply your own parts, and thereby deprive the mechanic of a reasonable mark-up on parts, he will most likely hit you a little harder on labour.
Simple economics, nobody I have ever seen can survive on labour only.
Also, if a part ( supplied by you ) fails, he will probably charge you to remove it & install a good part.
Chances are if he supplied the part, he may do the same service for free.
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Old 09-29-2003, 04:00 PM
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Would a steak-house cook a steak for you that you brought to them?? MOST wouldn't! would they?
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Old 09-29-2003, 04:18 PM
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Sometimes you buy the parts, then finds that you are not going to have the time, tools, or ability to perform the repair.

For this reason, I prefer mechanics who are willing to use my parts to bail me out.

Generally, I would prefer that a mechanic not rely on parts markups for much of their revenue. The natural incentive would be to replace things that may be repairable. I would rather pay more for labor as needed. Just my opinion.

My favorite mechanic will even install used parts, if I can rustle them up. No guarantee of any kind on the 'my' parts is the risk I take. Fair enough.

That said, I understand the liability perspective in our litigious society.
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Old 09-29-2003, 05:35 PM
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In the case of where you have bought the parts, and found the job beyond your scope, then here is where having a decent relationship with your mechanic comes in.

Explain the problem, and work something out where you can use the parts and he/she profits on the job.

In the electronics biz, we had a higher labour rate for installing customer supplied bits. We found that most (99%) people bringing their own parts had tried to install it themselves, and botched the job. Then, we had to sort out the goof and redo everything. What a hassle!

I had one kid bring in his car for an amp install. He had mounted the thing, run the cable, and hooked up the speakers. He simply wanted us to install an inline fuse and hook it up to the battery. Why? This made no sense to me. Well, he figured it was a five minute job, and should pay 5/60 of an hour's labour.

I explained that before we would do such a task, we would have to verify all the other connections, test the amp and the completed set-up. We had a .5 hour minimum charge, and I thought it would run about 1 hour's labour in total. He FREAKED! He began screaming at me that I was a rip-off artist and should be charging him $3.75 for the job. Five minutes at $45/hour!

Then, he wanted me to PAY HIM for the gas money he wasted driving to my shop. He began to look like he was feeling kinda froggy, so I asked him if he would mind leaving the showroom before we had to eject him.

He seemed to get the idea that I was about to squeeze all his zits at once, and left.

We got at least one a week of morons like that.

OTOH, I had fella that liked to buy his gear from the Bargain Finder, and have us install it. However, he bought all his wiring, kits, and fabrication work from me. He paid the true labour cost, and we did excellent work for him. In the end he did save quite a bit of money, and rewarded us with lots of referrals from his friends, most buying their gear from us. It was a good relationship that worked for both sides.

We were a good shop that gave good customers excellent service. Come through the door expecting me to pay a tech good money while you throw $3.75 on the counter, and I would skid you out the door without a thought. Good riddance.
John Shellenberg
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Old 09-29-2003, 06:25 PM
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There is a little shop in Metro Detroit...

called B.Y.O.P. auto (bring your own parts). The sign doesnt say whether they work on imports, etc. They seem to be a busy little shop. I don't know if I would trust a place like that (generic) to work on my Benz.

Kinda' like going to a dentistry school to have work done on your teeth. The cost is lower cuz you have students who are learning working on you. Yikes!
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Old 09-29-2003, 06:56 PM
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I like your logic.

I only buy genuine MB parts when I buy them.

The mechanic I have been using (very small shop) charges me full retail for MB parts and I feel that is sometimes excessive, especially when I find out what I could have bought them for on the net. He certainly has a right to do so, I equally have a right to question and pursue options. It gets down to a business decision on both our parts. I am also a great long term customer with two cars that need attention.

Last edited by ezrider; 09-30-2003 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 09-29-2003, 08:27 PM
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i have a great mechanic. sometimes, for certain mods[radios, cd jukeboxes, exotic tires, wheels, etc] i acquire them and furnish them to my mech.

but most of the time, for most parts i let him acquire them and bill me for them, along with his labor. i would never change the structure of this relationship.

i want this guy to be around. i've got six cars that i want to be impeccably maintained. and i want to be the most important customer he has. for instance, there was a day when i was planning to run my 560sec to corpus christi to see a customer. a 200mile run. on the way out of town, my engine started running rough as hell. i called my mechanic on the cell and he told me to come by. he had other cars ahead of me, but he dropped all to greet me and diagnose the problem.

though he had not seen the car for 10,000 miles, he had it figured out. and since when he last saw the car he knew that the problem would be arising in the future, he had put the necessary repair part on his shelf, tagged for my car. needless to say, within an hour i was on the road south.

more to the point, my mechanic knows that i am always driving my cars at 7/10+. under those situations, i don't want anything self-destructing. so, whenever my mechanic gets one of my cars, for whatever reason, there is a checklist for ancillary inspections. most important one is spare tire air. and gas in tank.

my indy has never turned a car over to me with an empty tank or a flat spare. benz dealer did it all the time.

mechanics like this need to be nurtured. it is penny wise and pound foolish to do things that jeopardize an excellent mechanic's survival.

my car's always get washed before they are returned[no charge]. and my mechanic takes my phone calls when he takes no others.

and when i challenged him to replace the passenger airbag with a glovebox on my 95 e320cab, he accomplished the objective in a fine fashion at a fair price. i just left him the car for six weeks so that he could do it leisurely.

i could go on. but the guy is a great mechanic. i want him to survive. because if he doesn't, i shall be compelled to divest myself of my collection of older benzes.

his survival depends on making a margin on parts, more than the dealer depends upon making a margin on parts.

what is funny is how the benz dealers sell him m-b parts. the local houston dealer, now autonation, cuts him no decent deal...they want him out of the business, they want his customers coming to them. but then there are the indy m-b dealers in central texas who give him a discount and free ups overnight.

so, i live in the houston region and my parts come from austin and san antonio.

and i pay less for parts than if he was acquiring them from the houston gangsters.

so it goes in the wonderful world of autos. and don't get me started on the local gmc dealer and his parts practices. worse than autonation if you can believe it.

a votre sante

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Old 09-29-2003, 08:50 PM
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If you find a mechanic who allows you to supply parts, don't be disappointed if the part is flawed and he tells you it's now your problem because it is - you supplied the part.

You get to hassle with returning the item to the supplier and exchanging(assuming they will?), then returning with a new part.
Now the question arises - are you going to pay EXTRA labor for the tech to start over?

It could happen.

As Steve Brotherton mentioned in another post, parts pay the labor bill. If a customer is supplying parts, how can the shop make a living? I've seen this practice used, but only by very small operations and it's not likely they allow it to become a common practice.
Mike Murrell
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Old 09-29-2003, 10:16 PM
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If you are a do-it-yourselfer buying your own parts is the only way to go. You just have to find a mechanic who will put on your parts when you choose not to tackle the job. They are out there, you just have to find them. In my experience they tend to be good and they tend to be honest (they usually don't have high overhead, the great ethical compromiser). Any mechanic who gives you the egg/restaurant story or the steak/restaurant story - just walk out. Anyone who is that interested in the sale of the part is overcharging for the part - it's really that simple. The whole "part quality" argument is silly as well. I've been doing this for 10 years, at least $25k in parts and I've never had a replacement part fail. It is incumbent on you to buy quality parts, and to get all the parts - washers, seals, nuts - everything that is needed for the job. Where I buy parts they are all name brand, original supplier parts - Bosch, Behr, Bilstein, etc. That they don't come in a Mercedes box is of no relevance. Anyone who tells you different than this is either A) a mechanic, or B) not a do-it-yourselfer. Now if you've in a small town and you can't find the right guy, all bets are off.
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Old 09-29-2003, 10:28 PM
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The only mechanic I know who has no problem with such arrangements is a friend of mine who works out of the shade of a coconut tree - he's my regular "coconut-tree" mechanic.

He's an ex-Beemer tech with over 10 years experience in K-Jet and KE-Jet systems.He also does MBs and strictly provides only diagnosis/labor.

He insists that his customers supply the parts (probably coz he doesn't wanna fork out any cash up front on parts).

This works well for me coz I enjoy DIY work on my car when I can.When it gets tricky (esp if I lack the correct tools), I go to the guy.

For the more expensive parts (fuel distributor, ECU) I get used units from a local wrecker with an exchange policy on defective parts; no questions asked.

If the part fails, I would pay for the extra labor to re-fit the exchanged part coz the parts are now "my problem".

It's more than worth the hassle coz I have already saved over a thousand dollars going with this guy than to the regular MB shop.

For the more difficult jobs (for example when a lift is required), I go to the regular MB workshop for help.

My opinion is that you get what you pay for.

You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.If you're lucky, you go bananas!
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Old 09-30-2003, 10:03 AM
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There is another dimension to this topic:

An important reason why parts purchased through mechanics are so much more expensive has to do with their supply chain.

It's not just the markup they impose. Typical markups would not even come close to explaining the gross price descrepancy. Some shops have zero markup on parts, but the prices are still high.

Mechanics have different priorities when choosing a supplier.
They value reliability, inventory, turnaround, and delivery service over price. They are not paying for the parts, and any supply problem that holds up their progress costs them big time. Heck, customers gripe whenever there is a parts holdup. Who wants to deal with that?

Just call a supplier that caters primarily to repair shops, and you will see what I mean. When all of the big retailers do not stock it, these outfits will be able to get it within hours (for a price). These folks are charging more because they have higher inventory costs, and because they are building rapid delivery services into their price.

You cannot blame the mechanics for this. It's just a market-driven reality.
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Old 09-30-2003, 11:08 AM
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I don't think it's unreasonable for me to supply my parts for the mechanic to install if I diagnose a problem, order and pay for the parts in advance. Of course I also assume the responsibility for parts warranty, proper fit and other complications which could result in false economy, but I like having the option.

If the mechanic provides the diagnosis for a problem (often without cost) it's reasonable to let him supply the parts.
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Old 09-30-2003, 12:20 PM
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Well, as a professional tech, I'll chime in.

Our policy is simple, you want to bring your parts, so be it. There is a add'l 10% added to the labor, there is no warrenty implied or otherwise on the repair. This includes the diagnosis etc.. However, this changes nothing in the manner of which your problem is handled, diagnosed and repaired. It simply allows me to recover some of the lost revenue from parts markup. Now, on the off chance I simply make a mistake while installing your part and do it incorrectly, that is warrentied.

I dont really like installing BYOP parts as there are issues about quality, accuracy of the diagnosis and overall completness of the repair that can and do rear their ugly heads. Personally I dont think the relationship between me and the client is worth posibly damaging over something so simple as a failed part.

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Old 09-30-2003, 01:53 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by deanyel
I've been doing this for 10 years, at least $25k in parts and /QUOTE]

Is that $25K a year, every year for the past 10 years or $25K over 10 years? Which is it?

Mike Murrell
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