Wheels and Tires

Automotive Parts markup - revisited

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[OP]
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Sep 5, 2013
90 posts
38 upvotes
Mississauga

Automotive Parts markup - revisited

I realize this is a thread topic that pops up occasionally, but I wanted to revisit automotive parts markup

I go to an independent mechanic, but lately I'm been wondering about the parts markup %.
As a comparison for parts markup, I compare prices at Amazon.ca and RockAuto.
In fairness, I should likely also call APC, or NAPA to see what they charge for the same item, as that's potentially where he's getting parts from but I can't be sure.

Edit: called a local auto parts store - it's about 20% less than my mechanic's quote, for the exact same part.
So I'm content knowing he's being quite reasonable with the markup. So it's 'locally' very reasonable.
Last edited by Marc9999 on Dec 5th, 2019 10:23 am, edited 4 times in total.
27 replies
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Oct 26, 2008
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You have already answered your own question.
Marc9999 wrote: ...............
In fairness, I should likely also call APC, or NAPA to see what they charge for the same item, as that's potentially where he's getting parts from but I can't be sure.
...........
Especially if you include the dealership parts counter.

Your independent mechanic wants a local source for parts where he personally knows who he is dealing with in case any problems arise.
He ain't going to get that from RA or Amazon.
Sure, he would like to save you money to keep you as a loyal customer, but there is a limit to how far he can do that and remain a profitable business.

The RA or Amazon sensor might be as good as the locally sourced one at twice the price wholesale (or three times the price retail) but who knows.
You can take that chance on your own, but no good reason why he should.
Deal Addict
Jul 19, 2004
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You should be comparing to your local parts store vs the mechanic. Can't really compare to Amazon or Rockauto considering they don't have the same cost to run the business. A local parts store has to keep parts on hand and delivery throughout the day to fix your car right away versus getting it delivered in a week.

Most of the places I've been to they don't really mark up the parts pricing that much, that's just how much they actually get it for. Also they are responsible for warranty if you get the part from them. But if the difference is that much, I'd just get it at Rockauto. Don't think the mechanic would really mind, but you'd lose the warranty on the install.
[OP]
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Sep 5, 2013
90 posts
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Mississauga
macnut wrote: You have already answered your own question.



Especially if you include the dealership parts counter.

Your independent mechanic wants a local source for parts where he personally knows who he is dealing with in case any problems arise.
He ain't going to get that from RA or Amazon.
Sure, he would like to save you money to keep you as a loyal customer, but there is a limit to how far he can do that and remain a profitable business.

The RA or Amazon sensor might be as good as the locally sourced one at twice the price wholesale (or three times the price retail) but who knows.
You can take that chance on your own, but no good reason why he should.
Makes sense, if he gets a bum part, he needs to be able to send it back pronto for a replacement.
Out of curiosity I'll call around to see what local part shops would charge for the same aftermarket part.
It's a learning exercise.
[OP]
Newbie
Sep 5, 2013
90 posts
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Mississauga
someone16 wrote: You should be comparing to your local parts store vs the mechanic. Can't really compare to Amazon or Rockauto considering they don't have the same cost to run the business. A local parts store has to keep parts on hand and delivery throughout the day to fix your car right away versus getting it delivered in a week.

Most of the places I've been to they don't really mark up the parts pricing that much, that's just how much they actually get it for. Also they are responsible for warranty if you get the part from them. But if the difference is that much, I'd just get it at Rockauto. Don't think the mechanic would really mind, but you'd lose the warranty on the install.
And that's the key point there that you brought up.
I take my chances if I supply the part, that it will be fine. If not, I'll pay again for labor.

The shop I go to used to allow customers to supply parts, but he got bigger as did his expenses.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2001
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What most people do not realize is that many shops will simply charge you the list price that NAPA sells the part for. They pocket the difference between what they pay and what list price is. This difference varies on part but is 20-50%.

One thing Rockauto/Amazon/etc have is the sheer variety of manufacturers. At NAPA I bought a belt the other day - I was able to choose between two brands. I go to Rockauto and there are over a dozen brands to choose from. This allows you to get all sorts of price points that NAPA does not offer.
Banned
Apr 27, 2019
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A mechanic is a business, though. With the cost of holding inventory on-site. Sure, they also get discounts, but that's the bottom line.
Deal Addict
Feb 6, 2011
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Marc9999 wrote:

Example: O2 sensor
My independent shop charges / 260% markup vs. Amazon.ca / or 305% markup vs RockAuto /

Amazon.ca: $77 (shipping inc.) pre-tax
RockAuto: $66 (shipping inc.) pre-tax
My independent shop: $201 pre-tax


Total time, including diagnostic/install: 0.4 + 0.8 = 1.2 hrs.

What brand are these sensors?
What is the warranty on these sensors?

.4 diagnostic is cheap = 24 minutes. Your getting a really good deal on that.
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lol, how are they supposed to pay for the overhead, building rent, equipment? So because the internet is cheap as dirt and doesn't include things like installation, diag, ect... At least do a proper comparison.

Downvoted cause bad comparison and redundant.
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Jr. Member
Jan 17, 2017
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Op where do you work? I bet I can get someone from India or Philippines to do your job for less.
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May 27, 2017
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I used to work for a Honda dealership parts dept and the mark up for retail was crazy like almost 40-50% compared to cost
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
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My local independent shop gets same day delivery and if there's any problem with the part they get same day exchange (ie wrong part shows up), also warrantied for a set amount of time against defects. They also get a lot of parts from the same place at the same time, so it's convenient.

For OEM parts sometimes they have to get it through the dealership (if their usual supplier doesn't sell it), who will then also charge their own markup on parts.
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Aug 10, 2011
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I'll share my recent experience at Street Performance Auto at Woodbine/Hwy 7.

I could have ordered brakes and rotors (front) at RockAuto for $210 (tax and shipping included) - but I would have had to wait 1 week for it to arrive. SP supplied for $250 and could do it the day of. So the extra $40 was a no brainer for me.
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Feb 4, 2017
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Lolvtec wrote: I used to work for a Honda dealership parts dept and the mark up for retail was crazy like almost 40-50% compared to cost
45% to be exact.

Parts sold to wholesaler customers:
25% off MSRP is common.
15% over cost is common.
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koffey wrote: lol, how are they supposed to pay for the overhead, building rent, equipment? So because the internet is cheap as dirt and doesn't include things like installation, diag, ect... At least do a proper comparison.

Downvoted cause bad comparison and redundant.
Shouldn't all that be covered under the labour rate?

I think that's the issue people have, kind of like how Ticketmaster adds the facility and convenience fees. It should be viewed as just the total price, and should be included in the actual ticket price, but the reason TM (and the promoter) does this is because people will pay for a $60 ticket with $15 in fees, but are less likely to pay for a $75 ticket, even though they're paying $75 either way. But the $60+15 feels smarmy and misleading.

Same with mechanics. People want transparency and to not feel like they're getting screwed, even if it's the same cost. Charge a higher hourly rate and not marking up the parts seems more honest than charging a lower rate but just hiding the cost in marked up parts. At least with the hourly rate you're "earning" that, but charging 20% just to order a part and open a box isn't earned.
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evosero wrote: Shouldn't all that be covered under the labour rate?

I think that's the issue people have, kind of like how Ticketmaster adds the facility and convenience fees. It should be viewed as just the total price, and should be included in the actual ticket price, but the reason TM (and the promoter) does this is because people will pay for a $60 ticket with $15 in fees, but are less likely to pay for a $75 ticket, even though they're paying $75 either way. But the $60+15 feels smarmy and misleading.

Same with mechanics. People want transparency and to not feel like they're getting screwed, even if it's the same cost. Charge a higher hourly rate and not marking up the parts seems more honest than charging a lower rate but just hiding the cost in marked up parts. At least with the hourly rate you're "earning" that, but charging 20% just to order a part and open a box isn't earned.
When I was working in 'stores', the only markups were on consumables/products. Mixing wages and profits gets messy. Labour rates need to be transparent because that is the only thing that most shoppers look for. How much do you charge an hour. It needs to be competitive against every other shop. So increasing your labour rate would have to be done across the board or you risk suicide by being the only shop that charges $170/hr vs $120.

If I get your vehicle into my shop because you are having a problem with xyz, you will be more likely to pay the increased price of the replacement parts instead of getting your vehicle and buying your own parts online and getting someone else to install them. "Wait sir, please don't fix my car with your $200 part when I can get it on amazon for $80." I will not charge you the diag because you feel like I'm giving you a break and you're more likely to be a return customer.

Transparency would be great, but in a competitive market such as vehicle repair, it will never happen. You'll get the transparent service aspect of it, but nothing else. Besides, who's to say that your online part from wagner is the same quality as my acdelo? You also get what you pay for.

Your business model doesn't work. It will not pay the bills and you will be out of business in 6 months. You think you can't carry and stock items? Do you know how many vehicles are out there and which parts you need to store? Do you think that if you don't stock items and only order it when required you'll have any business? Yes sir I can repair that, but please leave your vehicle with me for 3 days since amazon prime offers 2 day shipping. How much of your labour rates are profit when you have a service bay to pay, not to mention parts employees, service advisers, customer service reps, curiosity shuttle drivers, ect...

FYI I never ran an automotive repair centre. But where else can you buy tickets online other than ticketmaster? Consumerism at its best is where there is competition. It's a fact that people are willing to pay good money and a higher rate for quality work where the customer is well treated. RFD is proof of this.
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koffey wrote: Transparency would be great, but in a competitive market such as vehicle repair, it will never happen. You'll get the transparent service aspect of it, but nothing else. Besides, who's to say that your online part from wagner is the same quality as my acdelo? You also get what you pay for.

Your business model doesn't work. It will not pay the bills and you will be out of business in 6 months. You think you can't carry and stock items? Do you know how many vehicles are out there and which parts you need to store? Do you think that if you don't stock items and only order it when required you'll have any business? Yes sir I can repair that, but please leave your vehicle with me for 3 days since amazon prime offers 2 day shipping. How much of your labour rates are profit when you have a service bay to pay, not to mention parts employees, service advisers, customer service reps, curiosity shuttle drivers, ect...
I understand why it's done, I'm explaining why people get frustated about it when they find out. It's all perception.
koffey wrote:
FYI I never ran an automotive repair centre. But where else can you buy tickets online other than ticketmaster? Consumerism at its best is where there is competition. It's a fact that people are willing to pay good money and a higher rate for quality work where the customer is well treated. RFD is proof of this.
The monopoly isn't Ticketmaster, it's the event itself. You could have 1000 ticket retailers and it wouldn't matter, the prices are set by the promoter/artist and there's only one specific seat at a specific show on a specific date. You can't sell the same ticket twice.

But that's a whole other topic. The point was that people react based on their perception of what is happening, whether that's accurate or not. TM is an example where poeple have no idea what they're talking about, but it doesn't stop them from getting upset. They feel like they're getting screwed, even if they're not, and even if they'd do the same thing themselves.

It's similar to this mechanic situation. You charge a lower labour rate because otherwise you'd deter people and lose business, so you make it up by marking up parts as people won't know the real cost.
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evosero wrote: I understand why it's done, I'm explaining why people get frustated about it when they find out. It's all perception.



The monopoly isn't Ticketmaster, it's the event itself. You could have 1000 ticket retailers and it wouldn't matter, the prices are set by the promoter/artist and there's only one specific seat at a specific show on a specific date. You can't sell the same ticket twice.

But that's a whole other topic. The point was that people react based on their perception of what is happening, whether that's accurate or not. TM is an example where poeple have no idea what they're talking about, but it doesn't stop them from getting upset. They feel like they're getting screwed, even if they're not, and even if they'd do the same thing themselves.

It's similar to this mechanic situation. You charge a lower labour rate because otherwise you'd deter people and lose business, so you make it up by marking up parts as people won't know the real cost.
But people do know the costs or somewhere in between. It would be wonderful if everything you buy was transparent in costs but that isn't the world we live in. I don't hear of people really being upset with the cost of parts relative to what you buy online outside of cheapskates like rfd. It is what it is. So, you either buy your parts online and get someone to install it and if it breaks in a day, where's the warranty? OR you pay markup pricing and get at least a year in parts and labour warranty from a garage. What pays for that warranty? The marked up part? Your choice. No one is telling you what to do or where to go.
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Also, how did this end up in wheels and tires?
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