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Wrong part in my car - where did it come from

I recently had my 1998 Audi A4 in the dealer for service. They claimed that I had the wrong part in my car - the power steering pump was the 1997 model. But, my car was built in 1997 and I am the original owner and I have never had the power steering pump worked on. The dealer said I had no choice but to put in the correct part - $875 including labor.

Audi, corporate customer service, originally stated that the part number that was replaced was valid for the car. Now, after talking to the service manager, are saying that they can’t confirm nor deny the part.

The Audi service department claims that the shop, that changed my spark plugs and oil and the low pressure hose of the power steering resevoir, had changed the pump without telling me. That shop denies it (it does sound foolish).

Can I determine that the replaced part was installed in my car by the factory?

I doubt you can do much more than argue the logic of your case with Audi USA, hopefully they will decide that good will is more important than the $900 and give-in, in the interest of customer relations. I guess it depends how much trouble you are willing to go to for $900.

Somewhere, deep in the bowels of Audi headquarters, there is an archive of every car ever built by Audi that includes the part number of every component that went into it. If you still have the part number of the original pump, some clerk ought to be able to match it up to your car’s VIN… or not.

The difficulty is to get Audi to do this service for you. I don’t know Audi’s policy on such matters. Standard corporate policy everywhere seems to be to stonewall it. It may take a letter from a lawyer.

So what was the reason for having your car into the Audi dealer in regards to any steering problems?

If this other shop changed the pump then your receipt should show this as it is highly unlikely they’re going to give you a high priced pump for free.

It is also possible that an early production '98 vehicle could have a previous year pump on it due to cleaning out the existing stock.
This does happen, and many times the parts listing may be incomplete or in error and may not reflect this.

An example of this could be with Subaru many years ago in which the factory changed the reverse gear sets in their 5-speed manual transmissions during the middle of the production run and neglected to tell one soul here in the U.S., including their U.S. distributor, Subaru of America.
Not one parts manual or computer reflected this change and it led to a number of mis-ordered parts and much grief before it was discovered and corrected.

For a little more info - the power steering fluid was disappearing - not a leak on the ground or noticably by me on the engine. Audi said originally “they all leak some - buy this fluid and keep filling it up.” A German auto shop said “its the hose that runs from the fluid resevoir to the pump. Audi puts on weak clamps. We replaced the hose and the clamps.” A year later, still leaking, I asked Audi to look at it. They said “we took out the old pump because it was the wrong type for the car. You have a 5 valve engine, this is a 2 valve engine’s pump. We can’t put the wrong part back in. You owe us $875.” The new pump part number is identical to the old pump part number, with the addition of the letter F at the end. The original pump is marked '97 - my car was built on April 7, 1997.

First why bother with the dealer to have your car serviced at all? There are a lot of very good independent mechanics that charge less and do at least as well as the dealer, yet charge less.

OK it was a 1997 part. So what, it lasted at least 10 years without a problem. Why is it a problem now?

It’s a problem because the dealer charged him $900 for it.

Sounds to me like your Audi dealer Just wants sell you a pump. If that pump ran for 10 years it could not be too wrong. I would stick with original pump as long as it is working and not the cause of your leak. This does not explain your loss of fluid. Engines will all use a small amount of oil in the natural course of things, but a hydraulic system losing oil must have a leak somewhere. If you have no drips or puddles, it is probably a high pressure leak and you only lose fluid while you are driving. There should still be some evidence of leakage if you look close enough. Follow all of your lines/hoses from the pump to the steering valve, Valve to cylinder/assist unit, and return line to reservoir. You will most likely not be able to see every inch of plumbing, but do the best you can. As for a shop installing a pump without charging you for it, you have as much of taking a tire in to plug a nail hole and getting a new tire for free. Find that leak. Good Luck.

it is not unheard of (or unusual) for these parts swaps to occur.

when the cars are on the assembly line the assemlers grab the parts out of a parts bin. there is no real science to getting the part. the parts are brought to the line by computer, the bin is placed in a ‘spot’ and people grab the part from the spot and install it in the other spot where it is supposed to go.

sort of low tech really.

the dilemma is when the parts change over occurs. this is not just a change of model year, but also change of vendors, design changes, and revisions. this can happen any time in the model year.

but about your car:

you were undoubtably the victim of an inexperienced parts search, where, with just a little more searching they would have found the other option.

although i have seen (among other things) wheel studs, and window regulators, being argued that there “was NO way” these parts came off those cars! (but I took them off myself, so I KNOW where they came from.)

i took the old window regulator in with me, to compare it to the new one. i laid the old one on the counter, and put the new one right over it… two seperate designs. somehow (according to the computer) the van got a 2000 window regulator in a 2001 model year. even the VIN number didn’t agree, but… the truth was in the parts on the counter.

the moral of the story is…

autos are made up of parts. parts are subject to human interaction (at some point) and mistakes, goof ups, and switches DO occur.

unfortunately the audi dealership discovered this pump, couldn’t figure it out, and (although i don’t agree with thier tactics) forced (recommended) you switch pumps. i guess you didn’t get the old pump back, huh?

this is just one more example of how “stealerships” steal money. wroong

i seriously doubt you can ‘prove’ that. unless you HAVE the old part in your hand it would not even be a remote possibility. (he said, she said)

this sounds like why the dealership now can “neither confirm nor deny.” what a load of crap!

your other point about “the dealer said i had no choice…” yes, actually you DID have a choice: run away to another mechanic!!! find an honest mechanic.

Not sure why this ancient thread was dug up, but I’ll add my $.02 anyway.

It sounds like the dealer performed an expensive unauthorized part replacement. In most states, they can’t charge for the work.

But Brian may not even own the car anymore, so all this current discussion is probably moot.

Little confused here…

Are you now haviing a problem with the Pump??? If so what’s the problem???

I seriously doubt the shop that replaced the hose would replace the pump without CHARGING you for it. That makes no sense.

I also concur with others…that it’s very common for ALL manufacturers to use parts from previous years on the cars they build.

Manufacturing organizations have systems to control the configuration of designs. It’s called “configuration control”. When a design change is made, which may be a revision or a part, and physical change, or a complete new part, a decision is made by the team of engineers from, design, quality, method, manufacturing, and production control engineers. The protocol is called a “Materials Review Board”. The decision includes disposition of existing parts/assemblies. It may be to continue using them until they’re used up, call “Use As Is”. This is done if an improvement is made but the old part still works fine.

In short, it’s perfectly normal to have a 1997 part in a 1998 model year. In short, the Audi service department making this claim is full of balogna. You, as the owner, have the option of ignoring this recommendation. I suggest that you do.

Besides, an original part number and a proper replacement may be exactly the same, made by the same manufacturer, and have a different part number. My original NGK spark plugs, for example, had an alpha code built into the part number that designated a “special electrode design”. The listde NGK plug had an alpha that designated “triple cut (whatever that means) center electrode”. The plugs are exactly the same. The reason is that the exact design that got “validation” tested by Scion was “locked in” (configuration controlled) by Scion. That means NO changes can be made without Scion’s approval. NGK then took the same plug design and gave it their standard designation for that electrode. Thus, if they want to make a change to reduce production costs, they can do so without Scion’s approval. The next generation Scion might be validation tested with the change and will recieve a slightly different code. This is standard practice in the manufacturing industry. Been there, done that.

It certainly would be a problem if he lets the dealer do it. I believe that is why he posted the question. Unless there was a problem, there should be no change, if there was, it is time to check with an independent mechanic.

It sounds like they forced you to accept the part replacement, and it has already been done. I would discuss it with the head of the service department if you have not done so already. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, go to the corporate representatives of Audi and explain the problem.

I can’t imagine that anyone would replace a part without telling you or charging for the work. All parts have a serial number, and it should be possible to determine when the part was manufactured from that number. If the work has not been done yet, tell them to put the old one back until you discuss it with Audi USA.

The dealership gets extra points for a very inventive scam!

My 2002 VW 1.8 with 67,000 miles had a temp gauge that showed overheating so I took it right to a dealer. They replaced the water pump… and it still overheated. So they replaced the water temp sensor, which made it okay, and kinda indicated that the water pump repair was unnecessary. Total came to $844, including replacing the serpentine belt (which it needed). They wrote it up as “changed water pump because owner said it was leaking” which was not true… but I paid, and drove off. Now VW has extended the warranty coverage on temp sensors, and I can get my money back for that part of the repair. But is evident that with the false statement on the invoice, they have “documented” that their unnecessary repair of the water pump was “requested” by the owner. Well, I didn’t request it – I don’t even know where the water pump is – but they got me. Inventive scamming – could this be a feature of VW/Audi? Watch for clustering of this behavior around parts that have very high rates of failure – pumps? motors? the water temp sensor? engines that sludge, etc.

It’s sad that there are so many people out there that are unethical. These are the reason that so many folks feel such great anxiety when they have to take their car in to repair.

These types of “running changes” occur often within a single year of manufacturing in the industry. The dealer, it seems, made a mistake and you should pursue through the corporate system. All auto companies have a system for such appeals.