Perfect Pick

In the business of recycled parts, quality is relative.

The Locator

Years ago I wrote about why parts are returned, and the benefits a more accurate parts ordering process would have for industry stakeholders.

While quality was third out of the top five reasons for the overall return rate, it has come to our company’s attention that oftentimes the recycler decides a part is not up to standards and vetoes the sale without ever letting the customer weigh in.

This practice holds true for sheet metal and crash parts as much as it does for mechanical parts, and the net result is more than lost sales, but a lack of confidence all around. To illustrate, a customer called for a fender for an older truck, guaranteed to be rusted on the inner structure to some extent due to that particular year, make and model. Our salesperson detailed the part’s condition, and to be accurate, had our production manager look at it. The information was relayed to the customer, who was more than happy to receive the part as it solved his problem - furthermore, the replacement would be equal to, or even better than the original.

Even though the description on our tag in our inventory management system clearly detailed the imperfections, our QC department held the order up, citing quality issues. Our internal processes didn’t allow for the part to be shipped because of the notion that it did not meet set standards. This occurred despite the fact that the customer did his research, and wanted that exact part!

The issue of quality parts is a complicated one. Recycled green parts come from varying types of vehicles and year ranges and the recycler’s responsibility should be to clearly denote the imperfections with any part for the customer’s consideration.

Take my own 2006 Acura MDX with plastic, weathered headlights. If I need to replace one of them, would I want a shiny new one, or one of equal quality to the headlight on the other side? I think the answer is clear, no pun intended!

As a recycler from the northeast part of North America, and with vehicles lasting longer, one can only expect that we’ll sell older parts with imperfections. While our sub frames, rear ends and suspension pieces reflect what a typical part would look like on the same vehicle on the roads today, the description can cause our salespeople to avoid them like the plague.

A few years back, I remember my hesitation when an insurance company called for a door, and the one in stock was C quality. I decided to arrange the delivery personally, and highlighted the light inner rust on the lip of the door. Surprisingly, the collision center was very reasonable, noting that vehicle type rusts in the same spot, and it wasn’t a problem. I realized the client’s car door was smashed in badly, and the one I delivered was appropriate for the repair. I can’t help but think of the difference it would make in terms of customer satisfaction if all of our salespeople, shipping and QC team members interacted face-to-face with our customers.

Our industry needs to do a better job of working with all of our end users, clearly detailing the descriptions of our parts and making them available for customers to decide whether or not they meet standards. During the delivery process, we also have to make sure that decisions are made to ensure the parts that we deliver stick.

As I have noted previously, recyclers have always had to deal with returns and credits. We all know that we are dealing with a used product. However, since the profitability of both our industries are at stake, it is most important that we work together to increase the successful use of our parts. The benefits of green recycled parts surely outweigh any real or perceived quality problems!


David Gold of Standard Auto Wreckers is a founding member of Fenix Parts and holds the title of President for Canadian Operations. Locations in Canada include Toronto, Port Hope and Ottawa. He can be reached at 416-286-8686.

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