Tuesday, January 26, 2021 Detailed Auto Topics
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The red brake warning light, on Jim’s wife’s car is on.  Saturday morning Jim checks the vehicle and finds the rear-wheel  cylinders are leaking.  A big part store on the corner has the cylinders.  Several hours later, everything is fixed.  Two weeks in the future, the light is back and now the rear brake locks up on application. Brake fluid covers the right rear drum, and the shoes are soaked with fluid.  Jim assumes he must have done something improperly, but did he?  Problems came with the wheel cylinders Jim selected.

Low quality, off specification parts are an extremely common problem

The bore of this new cylinder is off specification

Jim would have been shocked, had he measured the parts before installation.  For the cylinder to seal, the piston must fit tightly into the bore, with just enough room to move freely. The bore diameter should read 19.05 millimeters (mm), ± .025 millimeters.  This bore measures 19.1 mm or double the allowable error.  

Cheap parts sometime fail, right out of the box

To fit properly, the piston should be 19.0 mm in diameter, and sized within a .025mm range.  This piston measures 18.974 mm, far too small.  Such sloppy manufacturing, results in parts that do not last and often do not work, right out of the box.  Jim was fortunate; he only lost several hours of time.

What is the difference in price and cost?

Everyone wishes to reduce their costs, particularly with auto repair.  Not understanding the true costs leads to a huge amount of money being wasted.  Price is the initial amount a person pays for an item or service.  Cost includes the price, but also other problems that they cause and is considered over time.

For instance, the price of the wheel cylinders was $15.00 each.  The cost includes the $30.00, and several hours for installation, a new pair of brake shoes and having to redo the job.  Divide this by the two weeks they lasted and the costs per week are astronomical.  A high-quality part may have cost $25.00 each or $20.00 more.  This part lasts for many years and gives no trouble.  Costs-per-week on such a part is almost nothing.

Bob is not as lucky

The starter on Bob’s truck quit working.  They price an original equipment starter at $250.00 plus $90.00 installation.  Checking around, Bob finds a shop that will do the whole job for $275.00.  He has the truck towed to the shop and when he picks it up, the sound of the starter is strange.  This shop assures him it’s just new and will be quiet after use.

Flywheel ruined by cheap starter

Three months later, the truck makes a terrible noise after starting.  Bob turns the engine off and then tries it again.  A loud grinding noise is all that he hears.  Having learned a lesson, he decides to pay extra and get the original starter.  The cheap, rebuilt starter has come apart and damaged the flywheel.  Now, the truck needs transmission removal, flywheel and starter replacement.

In retrospect, the $65.00 savings seem negligible.  The original $275.00 paid is gone, and the additional damage amounts to more than $1000.00.  Costs equal $1275.00, and a wrecker charge divided by six months use.

The cheapest way out is often the most expensive way in

The costs of cheap parts is far greater than original equipment parts

Had Bob realized what might happen, he would never have selected the cheaper shop.  Unfortunately, without a great deal of experience, it is difficult to see what might occur.  High quality repair shops have vast knowledge about cheap parts and the problems they cause.  This is why they refuse to use them; they are too expensive.

Cheap parts are just too expensive

When selecting a high quality repair shop, this knowledge is part of the price.  Comparing prices, without considering the risk from substandard parts, is ill-advised.  A person never gets more than they pay for, and often they get far less.

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