Recycled Parts Installation

Know What To Expect

Jim Stone, CarInspector.US, Inc., Warrenton, Ga.

Photo: The Locator

As an ASE certified master technician and CEO of CarInspector.US, Inc., each and every day I review mechanical claims for auto recyclers and extended warranty companies. In reviewing those claims, it is clear that there are several issues which cause mechanical parts failures that can easily be avoided. With a few exceptions, it is also clear that the parts supplied by the auto parts recycling industry are generally very high quality and well-handled. 

Over the last several years, we have been tracking claims that come through our office to see why parts fail. We have 18 different categories we catalog failures into. In this article, I will touch on the top three reasons we see failure of recycled mechanical parts.

Out-Of-Date Techniques

• Without exception, the most common problem we see is that the technician installing the recycled part does not stay up to date on installation techniques and practices. Every manufacturer has a specified technique that should be followed for each and every repair. These techniques are outlined in service manuals and technical service bulletins. It only takes a few minutes to consult the service manual or technical service bulletin to determine if the technique you are following is acceptable for that vehicle; however, we have determined that 96 percent of the time technicians neglect to consult the service manuals and technical service bulletins.

Lack Of Proper Tools

• In addition to installation techniques, the manufacturers also list specific tools required to per form repairs. While some of the specialized tools are quite expensive, most of them are not. Our office has determined that approximately 78 percent of the shops installing recycled units do not have the proper equipment to properly diagnose or install the parts.

Misdiagnosed Repairs

• Today, vehicles are much more complicated than they have been in the past. The vehicles we will see in the future promise to be even more so. Even though the vehicles are more complicated, they are easier to diagnose than ever before. With the electronics in the vehicles, most of today’s cars practically diagnose themselves. Surprisingly, the average technician has a very difficult time in accurately diagnosing them. In fact, more than 30 percent of the claims we have reviewed showed this to be true. What this means to auto recyclers is that the transmission, transfer case or engine you sell your customer may  NOT actually fix the car. In situations like this, the shop will almost always blame the part and expect a replacement or refund.

What Can Auto Recyclers Do?

As much as I hate to say it, the conclusion one must draw is that the shops just are not adequately prepared to properly diagnose or repair modern vehicles. So, what can auto recyclers do about this? This is a simple question with a relatively simple answer. My advice to you is:

• When a shop requests a refund, replacement or credit don’t just roll over and give it to them. Odds are that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the part you sent them. After all, you tested it yourself before you dismantled the vehicle.
• Involve an independent third party that can advise both you and your customer.
• Sell parts while the third party handles the problem for you! 

An independent third-party expert can help the under-qualified technician and poorly-equipped shop in accurately diagnosing a vehicle and affecting a quality repair. They are also equipped to review work orders, estimates and invoices so when you do have to reimburse the shop for parts or labor, you are not paying more than you should. 

The next time you get that dreaded call from an irate customer, know that there is almost always more to the story than you are led to believe and also know that you are not alone. There are experts out there that are not only willing but able to help both you and your customers.


Jim A. Stone, Jr, CEO of CarInspector.US, Inc., has been providing expert claims assistance and inspection services to the auto recycling industry since 1996.

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