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View Full Version : Has any considered making proprietary auto parts?



gary350
11-11-2010, 10:44 AM
It makes me mad that the auto makers have proprietary parts that no one can buy at any auto parts store. They have you buy the #$%^ you can only buy the part from the dealer and they want some unreal price and an unreal labor charge too.

Here is an example. Yesterday my SUV seat cable broke. I removed the seat then removed the cable. Auto Zone, Napa, ORiley etc did not have this part. The dealer wants $44 for a 3/32" steel cable about 24" long. Part number 12382378. I refused to be ripped off.

I replaced the seat cable with a $3 bicycle brake cable. It took me about 5 minute to replace the cable. It took longer to remove the seat from my 1999 Chevy Tahoe than it do to replace the cable. This is a simple replacement but it could be sold as an after market replacement part and it would save people a lot of money. Better yet it would be nice if there was a web page where people could go and type in information like this for people to read so they could do it themself.

Here is another example. My other vehicle is a power steering problem the sensor on the back side of the pump is bad. The part is available only from the dealer for $400 and they refuse to sell the part they want $400 labor to put the part on. You can not do it yourself because the factory has designed a weird 17 point spline bolt that holds the part on. Unless you have the special spline wrench you can not remove the bolt. One of the auto mechanics was nice enough to tell me if I could remove the part from the pump, take it apart and clean it then put it back on the pump it will work fine you do not need to buy a new part. An after marked special wrench or socket would be a great thing to sell so people don' t have to be ripped of for $800.

KIMFAB
11-11-2010, 10:53 AM
My son has a JCB mini backhoe and the plastic valve cover for the hydraulic unit broke, $400.
I make them out of aluminum and sell them for $100.

philbur
11-11-2010, 10:53 AM
Safety and liability might be a problem.

Phil:)

RussZHC
11-11-2010, 11:03 AM
Litigious nature of the market...volume of parts could be an issue (assuming you still want to make some money)...suppose you just make that 17 spline wrench/socket to make the job easier, but some shade-tree mechanic uses it and "dies"?

Not sure but contact someone at SEMA (?) and see what their members face in terms of liability costs/insurance etc.

I can see it working for the individual or small circle of acquaintances (like 1940s and 50s car culture) if the safety issue is small (say an intake manifold) but not much past that. And then how often do you really need something of that nature?

saltmine
11-11-2010, 11:43 AM
Litigation. That's what stops people from manufacturing replacement parts for cars, especially if they're safety related. All it takes is somebody to have an accident, and the investigation reveals a "home made" part and you can lose everything you own. (you lawyers out there might want to jump in on this). When I was working, not a day went by when a perfectly serviceable replacement part could have been fabricated (sometimes in minutes) to fix a customer's car, but the boss and managers were deathly afraid of being sued should that part fail or even be connected with a failure.

Not long ago, I had a window regulator fail in my car.(electric windows) I took the door apart, and found that the small nylon block that holds the ends of the lift & lower cables had failed. Knowing a replacement regulator would cost between $150 and $300, I picked up the broken bits of the anchor block, and made an aluminum copy of it, in my shop. The block fit perfectly, and the window regulator worked beautifully. All for the price of a tiny scrap of aluminum. The same thing happened when I lost one of the spring clips that hold my air filter box shut. I fabricated two nicely polished aluminum clips that do the job, without being springs...cost? A half-an-hour in the shop, and another couple pieces of scrap aluminum.

When I worked in an auto parts store, a customer came in with a bad fitting off of an old (antique) roller. One of the guys looked in every catalog we had, (I looked, too) but nobody could find the fitting. Since the guy was a friend, and chances of him finding this fitting were virtually impossible, I asked him if I could try to duplicate it. I took it home, and made a drawing of it, then picked out a nice piece of brass. In a couple of hours, I had a duplicate of the part, brand new. I handed it over to the guy the next day, and later he came by and told me it worked perfectly. Problem solved.

There have been many guys who set off to make replacement parts. Litigation or fear of it has all but eliminated most of them. Next time you get that quote from your dealer for $800, just remember, litigation made it that way.

gnm109
11-11-2010, 11:47 AM
Litigation in products liability is an issue for sure. Besides that, the matter of getting a market large enough to sell an aftermarket product could be daunting.

wrenchbender
11-11-2010, 12:00 PM
when I was operating my own shop I had liability ins. it ran me $200 a month for a one man shop. the coverage was for $1,000,000. per incident in case of a repair failed and causing other damages. Should I use it the premiums went through the roof. and if I put on a hired man the rates more than doubled, the reasoning for the more than double rate for a hired hand was that historically staff aren't as meticulous as proprietors and the chance of a claim goes way up. Add this to all the other costs involved you really find out that $50 an hr shop rate doesn't go very far. and checking with other non dealer shops in the area i found that non of them had liability ins.

Rosco-P
11-11-2010, 12:07 PM
For some auto parts, not enough demand (seat cable) or too many variations, to justify carrying it. That's one of the reasons that Pep Boys doesn't carry exhaust components, only mufflers and a few generic adapters. The $400 pump sensor, are you sure that wasn't the entire PS pump for $400?

garagemark
11-11-2010, 12:09 PM
It has little to do with litigation or liability to you. All the bits, parts, and proprietary tools to work on a particular car are patented. Designs are copyrighted. Pretty open and shut. You may make any modification to your own car (as long as it is legal and doesn't alter EPA or safety standards), but to attempt to mass market any of these proprietary bits will be fruitless... and expensive. You will be in court and shut down before the ink drys on the lawsuit papers.

snowman
11-11-2010, 12:15 PM
I've always wanted to do restoration work for the parts you simply can't get anymore.

RKW
11-11-2010, 12:16 PM
I know what you mean. I got a quote on replacing a hood release that was going to be $240 for the parts alone and then the labor was going to be two hours for a total of around $400. For a hood release?!

As it turned out, the plastic handle itself is not replaceable since it was molded/formed to the release rod directly, it had to be the WHOLE cable release system. I made my own replacement handle from aluminum and used a couple of set screws to hold it on.

Undercutting the big %$@&s sounds like fun work but you can only guess how it would all turn out for the guy doing it ... But how dare we question these folks for making a "fair" profit :rolleyes:

sansbury
11-11-2010, 04:35 PM
The fundamental challenge in this is that it's really hard to make a large enough market.

My thought was to start a business (Let's call it Cheap Replacement Parts Inc.) that would market itself to the public as the source for cheap replacement parts. CRP would take orders from consumers, and sub the work out to small shops. Depending on the age of the car and how common it was, CRP might order just one piece or more and hold an inventory. Suppliers would be creating parts against specs provided by CRP, which would provide them a degree of firewalling on liability risk. They would also be dealing with one large company, instead of random Joes off the street who have no idea what they're doing.

I've actually run this up the flagpole with a couple of entrepreneurs and early-stage investors I know, just for giggles, and unsurprisingly, they all got an acute case of alligator arms. I don't blame them. Though they did say that if metal-based 3D printing (like laser sintering) ever got much cheaper, something like this could work with everything being done by 3D scanning. I thought about having a roomful of VMCs and just storing the program and fixture design for every single part ever made, but even with that the setup time is going to bite you. Either way, you really need to gain a lot of advantage to make up for all the overhead.

What I think is needed to make this kind of thing work would be some kind of safe harbor law that strictly caps the liability of the part manufacturer. In my fantasy land of unicorns and pixie dust, the machinist would give the consumer a waiver to sign that essentially read, "If you are capable of replacing the part, then you are capable of judging whether the replacement is of suitable design and quality for the intended purpose," and cap the liability at something in the low five figures, so that insurance policies cost a few hundred bucks a year or some such. But that is asking for far more sanity than our legal system is probably capable of.

Ries
11-11-2010, 04:54 PM
Obviously you CAN make replacement parts for cars- there are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies doing it.
And therefore, liability insurance is available.

You do need two things though-

first, a legal right to make the parts- which means, in practical terms, a car that is old enough that the original manufacturer is either out of business, or doesnt care any more.

second- enough volume to justify your cost.
This can vary, depending on what the part is, how hard it is to make, and what the market will bear.

I met a guy once who owns two Bugatti's- type 35's, I think. hundreds of this series were made, and he told me that you can buy, brand new today, every single part for these 1930's cars, including brand new engine blocks.
The catch, of course, is the cost- these cars sell for a half millon to $1.5 million and up, depending on the exact car. A totally bare, non-machined short block for one is available- but it might be ten grand, and another ten grand for machining, and another ten grand for parts to go in it. But you can get it.

But on a more down to earth level, there are companies making most parts, new, for old Chevy pickups, various muscle cars, or even BMW Isettas.
You can buy brand new brake cylinders for early 50's Jeepsters, or new taillights for 1920's Indian motocycles.

Which means you absolutely CAN make, and sell, parts for older cars.

However, you have to sell them for enough money to pay for insurance, taxes, advertising, and all normal business expenses. This is where many people dont make the connection.
To make one of something in a basement shop, it seems easy and you can imagine it costing very little.
But try making, and selling, a few thousand a year- all of a sudden you need to have a business licence, insurance, employees, an account with UPS, a packing and shipping room, and all the rest of the things that go with actually being in business. Suddenly, that $1.50 part is actually costing you $10 bucks, and you need to sell it for $20 to make it worthwhile.
But if you stay small and nimble, you can sell it for less than $400, thats for sure.

The trouble lies when you try to step on the toes of a giant corporation, with deep pockets and lawyers on retainer, that is happily selling sensors for $400.
Right or wrong, they can sue you for longer than you can afford to pay a lawyer to defend you.

You gots to pick your battles, and choose ones you can win.

Black_Moons
11-11-2010, 06:36 PM
I think the whole auto industry needs a serious shakedown. The fact they can charge $1000 for a $10 part they KNOW is gonna fail every X miles is just robbery and nearly fraud IMO. At the very least a parts breakdown and typical service life should have to be provided at the sale of a car. I sure as hell would'nt buy any car if it said 'Flywheel/Clutch plate unit: 1,000 miles MTBF, $1200+4 hours labour to replace' But thats the kinda bull we put up with now because you just don't know untill your a thousand miles down the road and your $1200 flywheel/clutch plate/whatever fails... as it was designed to.

And honestly some of this stuff is just insanely overpriced because they know they can gouge you for no good reason.

Example: my *PLASTIC* headlight cover units? $110 EACH. The bulb? $15~30 each.
My friends SEALED GLASS HEADLIGHTS with bulb included and sealed in, $12.
How can he get a better quality part, designed never to get scratched/frosted to uslessness like so many plastic headlight covers, For less then I can even buy a replacement bulb?

And yaknow what, Glass headlights used to be the required by law. Reason? plastic would frost over. That reason for glass headlights has not changed, But someone sure payed thier lawyers enough to get the law removed so they can sell ya a new $110 plastic cover every couple years if you want your headlights to be usable and actualy SAVE YOUR LIFE or someone elses.

Isent that nice. Risking your life and others (And double risking your life with other people driving with these usless frosted over headlights) just so some jerk can sell $110 plastic headlight covers that where never needed or desired to be invented in the first place.

Infact, I really like the whole 'service life list' idea. I wonder how that would change the auto industry if some 3rd party website started looking into that and publishing a list... With a sumtotal at the bottom of $ of repairs/service per 1000 miles typicaly needed.

Of course, with them releaseing 'new' models every damn year, does not help things one bit, By time a car is proven reliable and low cost, its gone through 5 revisions and the same make/model of car is totaly diffrent and you can't buy that old reliable model car new anymore.

aboard_epsilon
11-11-2010, 06:50 PM
Had the door lock pull rod actuator mechanism come apart on me a few weeks ago ..

cause, was broken tiny little green clip made of plastic ..no bigger than a small pea..and probably cost 0.000001 pence to manufacture

anyhow ..they...a ROVER PARTS DEALER wanted 5.95 for the thing plus postage ..stuff that for something that can blow away in the wind.

anyhow ..electrical blocks to the rescue..i never even cut it in half ..because it worked was out of site ..and would probably outlast the car as it was .

never mind
this will do for now....it is nice and tight and is unlikely to come off.,

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v190/aboard_epsilon/P1010158.jpg

where it came from.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v190/aboard_epsilon/P1010161.jpg

all the best.markj

saltmine
11-11-2010, 06:53 PM
When I worked for the County, the majority of my work was keeping police cars running. I discovered a small company in Michigan that specialized in refurbishing old Chevy Caprice police cars. They were reasonably priced, and they turned out a virtually new car, with everything wearable replaced, new upholstery, and paint. Unfortunately, a logistics problem kept me from using them....The transporting of the cars to and form Michigan.

I have, in the past, remanufactured and refurbished many parts for cars, both old and new.

When I worked at a dealer, in California, I was doing a "land office" business re-doing Chevy Corvairs. But, as luck would have it, the availability of NOS (New Old Stock) parts started to dry up and I soon had to turn customers away. Bear in mind, this was 25 years ago, and the first hard part that disappeared was rear wheel bearings for Corvairs. Now, in the parts catalogs, the Corvair bearing isn't even listed. Most owners are reduced to haunting the junkyards for used replacements...and even these are getting scarce.
I would imagine that, with a little creativity, and some machine tools a suitable replacement bearing could be fabricated. But, I'm not going to make a bunch of them...

sansbury
11-11-2010, 07:55 PM
anyhow ..they...a ROVER PARTS DEALER wanted 5.95 for the thing plus postage ..stuff that for something that can blow away in the wind.

The part may cost 0.01, but the cost of the shelf space, ordering them, answering calls from customers, finding them, writing up an invoice, collecting payment, and whatnot, all that probably adds up to 5.94 or so.

aboard_epsilon
11-11-2010, 08:15 PM
The part may cost 0.01, but the cost of the shelf space, ordering them, answering calls from customers, finding them, writing up an invoice, collecting payment, and whatnot, all that probably adds up to 5.94 or so.

yup, but was a part that was probably made 15 years ago /..and probably within months was due to meet the same fate as the one that had just buggered up because of plastic brittleness-with-age after a period of time phenomenon ..so could not justify spending ..and waiting .

I had it apart ....I made the call........I got the price ......I knew the fix ....it wasn't going to be put back together whilst i waited for 5.95 part.,.then took apart again to fix it ..
Was shown just as an example of ........"you don't always have to buy the part ..if you can improvise and diy..a better fix ."..some other guy was talking about parts the regularly fail and cost lots ..so i thought why not show this while it was in my photobucket album ..i posted the fix a few weeks ago in a rover forum ....the car whilst in this state was a bit un-usable ..as i had to get in through the passenger door ..so i needed a quick and hopefully permanent fix .

all the best.markj

ADGO_Racing
11-11-2010, 09:25 PM
As far as litigation goes, if one sets them selves up properly, you can tell the whole world to kiss your fuzzy a$$. The only insurance you will be required to have is workers comp!

snowman
11-11-2010, 09:36 PM
And that's called a shell company, and any lawyer worth a damn will work right through the IRS red tape you used to make it.

ADGO_Racing
11-11-2010, 10:51 PM
There are other ways....Which are legal and cannot be penetrated. Just because someone sues you, does not mean they will get ANYTHING, except a piece of paper saying they have a judgment against you.

gnm109
11-12-2010, 03:13 AM
There are other ways....Which are legal and cannot be penetrated. Just because someone sues you, does not mean they will get ANYTHING, except a piece of paper saying they have a judgment against you.

It sounds really sinister. Had you ever gone to law school, I believe you might change your mind.

.

wierdscience
11-12-2010, 10:35 PM
My liability plan is simple,put these all over everything you build-

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/wierdscience/madeinchina.gif

Black_Moons
11-12-2010, 11:07 PM
wierdscience: Awsome! I love it! I think it will work, But where do I buy dodgy genuine made in china made in china stickers, Idealy with toxic unremovable glue that melts the plastic/paint under it. Sticker is easy to remove of course, but the glue will remain forever.

jkilroy
11-12-2010, 11:30 PM
Wierd, that is freaking brilliant!

jkilroy
11-12-2010, 11:33 PM
Someone needs to make retrofit kits to replace HID headlights with el-cheap-o halogens. The bulbs are sometimes over $100 ea and the BALLAST can be close to a grand each and you need TWO. Ask an Acura or Lexus owner about this.

TriHonu
11-13-2010, 12:23 AM
My thought was to start a business (Let's call it Cheap Replacement Parts Inc.).
Plus


My liability plan is simple,put these all over everything you build-

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/wierdscience/madeinchina.gif

Equals

Cheap Replacement Auto Parts Inc. (C.R.A.P.)

I think the Asian Exporters have already defined this market...:D

mike4
11-13-2010, 04:53 AM
Plus



Equals

Cheap Replacement Auto Parts Inc. (C.R.A.P.)

I think the Asian Exporters have already defined this market...:D

I recently had the pleasure of having a front wheel bearing self destruct , in my main service vehicle and was very lucky to be in town and not far from the workshop.
The roller bearing when removed had disintergrated to the point where it was starting to lock due to the rollers collecting on the bottom of the races.

The cage was ground to shreds, but no damage to the shaft or hub.

This was a genuine replacement part purchased from a reputable supplier , after cleaning all of the trash out and inspecting everything for damage I have replaced the seals with genuine and the bearings with Timken equivalents of the genuine parts, I fabricated replacemebt lock washers and retainer nuts ,used a circlip from a Caterpillar water pump .

I think that this repair will be safer and outlast the originals as it has been made of tough steel not soft rubbish for the lockwashers ,the nut is made from the head of a grade 8.8 50mm bolt .

I will make replacement parts anytime that I can find suitable materials for any of my vehicles .

By the way I carry liability insurance as well as professional indemnity both to the value of $20million ,so far I have only paid premiums ,there are people lurking out there who like to dump the blame for their actions on others and if they can find some way to weasel money out of some one they certainly try.

Why is there no protection for manufacturers and repairers from morons who think that someone esle will pay for their stupidity.
Michael

Liger Zero
11-13-2010, 11:58 AM
My work-van has 250,000 miles on it. It had 190,000 when I got it.

One of the belt idler pulleys let go on it while I was driving, managed to coast to the side of the road. Not a big deal.

Paid $22.50 for a new one installed it and was on my way.

Two weeks later I had to install another one.

A week after that I had to install another one.

Took it to the garage, he checked the tension-system and all the other pulleys, and replaced it again.

This one lasted two weeks.

Went to a junk yard that had a 1994 Town And Country almost identical to mine with 34,000 miles on it. Sadly this van had been crushed by a falling tree.

Got the pulley off the engine, and here I am six months later without a complaint.

Went back recently and spent $1,800 stripping parts off of the crushed one. Got a fuel pump, alternator, power steering pump, tranny, front wheel-bearings, CV assemblies and rear speakers.

Now if I can stop the rust-cancer I can make the van last another quarter-million miles. :)

DeereGuy
11-13-2010, 03:45 PM
When I worked for the County, the majority of my work was keeping police cars running. I discovered a small company in Michigan that specialized in refurbishing old Chevy Caprice police cars. They were reasonably priced, and they turned out a virtually new car, with everything wearable replaced, new upholstery, and paint. Unfortunately, a logistics problem kept me from using them....The transporting of the cars to and form Michigan.

I have, in the past, remanufactured and refurbished many parts for cars, both old and new.



Yes we did that for years....very lucrative business with the demand, and saved the State, County, Municipalities, and tax payers lots of money.

kbertoson
11-13-2010, 04:17 PM
A guy on line sells a replacement heater blend door. It goes by the name of "Heater Treater". It is all metal and replaces the plastic blend door in Ford F-150's and Expedition's plus other cars. My only connection is a customer. Bought it a year ago and just put it in. Wow works very well. Now have heat. The old door was cracked at the bottom also the actuator had failed. Gives my wife something else to complain about now.

travisn
11-13-2010, 10:57 PM
Someone needs to make retrofit kits to replace HID headlights with el-cheap-o halogens. The bulbs are sometimes over $100 ea and the BALLAST can be close to a grand each and you need TWO. Ask an Acura or Lexus owner about this.


ddmtuning.com

my buddy has some in his 636, my other buddy had them in his 08 CRV, and I have them in my e30.

work mint and are cheap!!

wierdscience
11-13-2010, 11:45 PM
Wierd, that is freaking brilliant!

American knock-offs;)