A Visit to the Parts Department


I seldom buy my auto parts directly from the dealership but
sometimes it is necessary. Either the dealership is the only
source or I need something right away. Anyway, we always play
the following game.

I needed a cluch cable. Nobody supplies a clutch cable but the Chrysler dealership. (It has a special self-adjusting gizmo, so a
generic cable won't do), so off I went. Here's how we began:

He checks the computer screen which I cannot see.
"Not in stock. I can have it here tomorrow."

"OK," sez I. "Let's do it."

"Cost you $92. Pay tomorrow when you pick up."

I returned the next day. A different guy
was behind the counter. Here's how it went.

He brings the part and checks the computer screen which I cannot see.
"Here's your part. Were you given a price?"

"Suppose you tell me."


"The other guy told me $92!"

"OK, $92."


"That's how it's done. Cash or plastic?"

This has happened to me more than once.
Can anyone shed light on this business?


I’m afraid my suggestion is not pragmatic. More philosophical.
The biggest by-product of capitalism is greed. So, either there is a price range open to individual interpretation, or greed begats cheating begats greed ad nauseum.

Then there is of course the issue of communication. Don’t expect too much of that…

Get it in writing from the first guy or have a ‘witness’ nearby.


Guess you should have said, “$75.00”


My guess is they have different price schedules. Mechanics buying parts will have a discount, maybe owners of cars purchased there may have a discount etc.


Dealerships have buffers built into their prices. When a private garage orders parts they’ll typically get a 15% to 20% discount (it varies by dealer). Often they’ll also discount the parts to private customers. I know because for years I’ve always asked for a discount and I almost always get one. Usually it’s 10%.

I don’t know the “why” of it, but I know it saves me money.


There are most certainly discounts that can be applied. The second guy gave you the retail price. The first guy probably gave you a mechanic’s discounted price. You used the right approach. If the second guy had said an even lower price you can just keep quiet. Likely, he knew what the discounted price was so pushing your luck and saying something even lower would have triggered the BS flag and you may not have gotten the discounted price.


I used to quote the lifetime warranty part at the NAPA where I worked and then mention the one year warranty part (starter) when they came to buy it. I tried to build a customer relationship that way. I didn’t work there long enough to get fired, but I should have kept on. They wouldn’t give us our own code so Bud took the blame. Don’t hire me.


I have had the same problem and thats why before going to the dealer parts dept I call them for pricing. Then I call couple of other dealers around the area and try to figure the “real” best price. Nonetheless it is aggravating.