Monday, February 13, 2017

Used Parts Versus New

Are used auto parts a bargain?  Let's look at some numbers and find out.


As I noted in an earlier posting, used auto parts, like used tires, are one of those "bargains" that the poor seek out and end up even poorer for doing so.  As I noted in my tires posting, often used tires are sold as "bargains" for being half the price of new ones.  But since they have less than half the usable tread left and since the mounting costs are the same for less than half the mileage (effectively doubling your mounting costs or more) they are no real bargain, any more than a half-roll of toilet paper at half-price is a "bargain" compared to a new one - the cost per sheet is actually higher.

The same is often true for other car parts.  But unlike my tire posting, I did not run numbers on car parts in my previous posting on the subject. Suppose we use as an example, an alternator for a 2005 Chevy Silverado, which is a pretty popular truck.   What is the spread between new and used parts costs?

One junkyard site produces the following hits.


Year
Part
Model
Description Part
Grade
Stock# US
Price
Dealer Info
2004
Alternator
Chevy Truck Silverado 1500
w/o hybrid; 105 amp (opt K68),5.3LC6E0418$50Martin's Auto Salvage, Inc. USA-NC(Raleigh) Request_Quote 1-919-231-6416/1-888-325-3301 Request_Insurance_Quote
2003
Alternator
Chevy Truck Avalanche 1500
105 amp (opt K68),5.3LA6F0302$50Martin's Auto Salvage, Inc. USA-NC(Raleigh) Request_Quote 1-919-231-6416/1-888-325-3301 Request_Insurance_Quote


This site has both new and used parts:

Year
Part
Model
Description Part
Grade
Stock# US
Price
Dealer Info

Alternator
03-04 CV CK PU 4.3L V6 4.8L 5.3L V8 (6S) ALT -Aftermarket List PriceAFTe4499 2-08291$292.56Ace Auto Parts USA-MN(Saint-Paul) Request_Quote 800-637-6752 / 651-224-9479 Request_Insurance_Quote

Alternator
03-04 CV CK PU 4.3L V6 4.8L 5.3L V8 (6S) ALTAFTe9373 2-08291$111.15Ace Auto Parts USA-MN(Saint-Paul) Request_Quote 800-637-6752 / 651-224-9479 Request_Insurance_Quote
2002
Alternator
Chevy Truck Silverado 1500
4.8,A,10-01MATCHe1183 GB0206$45Ace Auto Parts USA-MN(Saint-Paul) Request_Quote 800-637-6752 / 651-224-9479 Request_Insurance_Quote
2004
Alternator
Chevy Truck Silverado 1500
5.3,A,2-04e1183 GI1342$45Ace Auto Parts USA-MN(Saint-Paul) Request_Quote 800-637-6752 / 651-224-9479 Request_Insurance_Quote
2004
Alternator
Chevy Truck Silverado 1500
5.3,Ae1183 HB0169$45Ace Auto Parts USA-MN(Saint-Paul) Request_Quote 800-637-6752 / 651-224-9479 Request_Insurance_Quote

Note the staggering cost of a new alternator - almost $300!   The used one for $45 sounds like a bargain, right?


But what about new parts?  Autozone wants $139.99 for a basic alternator for a 2005 Chevy truck.  Sounds like a lot more, until you realize the new alternator (or rebuilt) has a warranty and should last the remaining life of the truck.  The used alternator?  Anyone's guess, as it is from a truck as old as yours is, and thus may not last very long at all. 

If you don't mind waiting a few days for shipping, for $88 you can buy a rebuilt alternator on Amazon, with free shipping - $40 more than one from a junked car.  Plus, you don't have to drive to the junkyard and spend an hour removing a greasy old alternator.

The big deal is, the new or rebuilt alternator will likely outlast your use of the truck.  The used one might be something you replace next week, next month, or next year.   Parts wear out, and if the alternator on your truck is worn out, chances are, the one on a junked truck is pretty much worn out, too.

It isn't worth half of the cost of a new one, or even one-quarter.   But like with used tires, the retailers of these used parts use lower prices as a come-on to get you to buy.   But you are not buying half as much alternator for the money, you are buying maybe 1/4 or even 1/10th.   It just isn't worth the hassle to save $40.

But this illustrates how shitty deals are sold to the poor.  It is like the lady who bought recap tires thinking she was saving money because the upfront cost was less.  What she didn't realize was that the overall cost would be more, over time.

The poor have no access to capital, either through savings or lending, so they bite on poor deals like this.   They end up spending more than rich people do or certainly more than middle-class people.  The middle-class person has the cash or credit card to buy new or rebuilt parts and not have to dick around pulling nearly-worn-out parts from old cars.   He comes out ahead of the poor person, who not only gets shitty deals in car parts, but in banking, lending, renting, home ownership, and so on.

So, this begs the question:  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Are poor people poor because they bite on shitty deals, or does being poor force them to accept shitty deals?   Given the narrow spread between "poverty" and "middle class" in this country, it is an interesting question.

I can only say from personal experience that you can be "poor" on $30,000 a year or middle-class on $30,000 a year, depending on how you spend your money.


NOTE:  This is not to say that used car parts or recaps or used tires are NEVER a good deal.  If you run a trucking company, chances are you put recaps on your trailers.  But that doesn't make them a good deal for passenger cars, and in fact, they are darn hard to find these days for passenger cars, due to liability concerns.  Used tires CAN be a good deal if you find a set of brand-new "take-offs" with rims that some idiot removed from his car so he could have bling rims.  His loss, your gain.  Similarly, used BODY parts can be a good deal, although new stampings from China are certainly cost-competitive.  And used parts for rare and antique cars, suitably refurbished, are often the only source for those vehicles.  But the local junkyard doesn't usually have that sort of thing, but rather later model junked and wrecked cars that are being parted out before being crushed.

But those are exceptions to the rule, and I mention them only because some yahoo, like clockwork, will respond with "Well, used car parts can be a good deal in certain circumstances where......"

Don't be that yahoo.

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