Archive for June, 2016

Our new policy regarding power steering pumps, and why we’re adopting it.

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

airdrie auto repair

We’ve decided to start installing only OEM (original equipment, or factory) power steering pumps in our customers’ vehicles. Here’s why.

 

A major part of us providing you with a lasting, quality repair is choosing the right replacement parts for your vehicle. Our years of experience help us understand what types and brands of parts will work best in different situations. We know where you can save money by going with an aftermarket part, and where only an OEM part will do. (In some cases, the aftermarket part is actually an improvement over the stock design, and we’ll inform you of this, too!)

We’re continuously evaluating the work we do, and looking for ways to bring our customers a better repair while balancing the need to keep things affordable. While our pricing is definitely competitive, we’re competing just as much on quality and service; and we want to protect our hard-earned reputation for quality, honest work. One area where we feel like we can make an improvement (when it comes to quality) is with power steering pump replacements.

The power steering pump can be a fairly common failure part, and we probably replace a few of them every week. In the past, we’ve primarily used aftermarket power steering pumps because of the very large cost difference between an aftermarket and an OEM pump. For the most part, they’re what every shop uses. For a 2005 Dodge diesel truck, as an example, an OEM pump costs over $1000 but an aftermarket unit is less than $200. The price difference on other vehicles isn’t as drastic, but it’s always there. However, this is where it’s important to recognize the difference between price and value. While it’s true that we’ve installed lots of aftermarket steering pumps for customers who have had good service from them, the failure rate of the aftermarket units is higher than we consider to be acceptable. Even with our top quality install and a thorough flush of the steering system, we are seeing too many aftermarket pumps failing within the first couple years.

We really wish the aftermarket power steering pumps were better. Unfortunately, no matter where you buy an aftermarket pump, they mostly all come from the same supplier: Cardone Industries. Cardone rebuilds pumps for Auto Value, Napa Auto Parts, Bumper to Bumper, Partsource, Canadian Tire, and most of the other large auto parts retailers. Cardone builds many good quality products, but their remanufactured steering parts aren’t up to our standards – and this is a feeling shared by many in our industry. It’s pretty much impossible an alternative to the Cardone pump in the aftermarket world, though.

We are not okay with installing a part that we can’t be 100% confident in, or that we suspect will need replacing again in the coming few years. Even though using an aftermarket power steering pump might be cheaper in the short term, paying for the repair multiple times will quickly get more expensive than just fixing the issue once – the first time – with a better quality part.

Even if a power steering pump fails within our warranty period, and the repair is free to you, it’s still a bad thing. A breakdown is inconvenient; could leave you stranded somewhere; and could leave you having to pay for a tow. A failed part also makes our quality of work look bad. It’s just not worth it. This is why we’ve made the decision to stick with the OEM pumps from now on.

It won’t always be the most popular decision. We know that in the event a customer is calling around comparing prices for a pump replacement, our pricing will likely seem very high at first. We’ll have to explain that the competitive shop is likely quoting an aftermarket pump. But we feel that, as with our commitment to only using OEM-approved fluids – and all of the other little things we do differently – we’ll be able to explain the benefits of doing the repair right; and doing it once.