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Technical Anybody know how to speak "parts counter"?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Gasoline Junkie, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. I am facing a traumatic situation this year, my go-to parts guy for 35 years is retiring this year. He is now the manager of a business that has been bought out by a nation wide corporation, and he has expressed to me on many occasions that he wishes he would have archived some of the old jobbers catalogues, because they would be much more helpful for finding oddball parts.
    I have switched to doing my own computer searches for parts, and although it can eat up a lot of time, I have found parts for some of my old equipment, that would not otherwise been found. At the minimum, I have been able to find a major brand part number that my friend can cross reference to come up with a match.
    I write this inconvenience down to the fact that I made the choice to keep all my old stuff running, and the time I spend searching is the price I pay for that choice.
    My son sat in the Back To The Future Delorean, and he didn't bring the flux capacitor home with him, I checked.
  2. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 7,193

    from Nicasio Ca

    O'Reillys has dog treats. I don't always get what I came for, but he does.

  3. greybeard360
    Joined: Feb 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,557


    I don't know how much more correct info I could have given.... quantity and part number. Try to explain to kid right out of high school why I need colder spark plugs? 3/4 of the people on this board don't know why you would need them.
  4. rjones35
    Joined: May 12, 2008
    Posts: 865


    I remember back in the day when I was a parts guy, my catalog rack was MINE and it was awesome. I had it set up right, I saved some of the old catalogs that had certain info that the newer ones didn't, AND I knew where to find that info. Not saying I knew everything, but I knew where to look at least. Good times. Now I dread going to the parts store for anything that I can't grab off the shelf or know exactly what its supposed to fit. I did find one guy close by that was an "oldtimer". He knew stuff, and knew where to look if he didn't.
  5. Jeff J
    Joined: Mar 15, 2007
    Posts: 949

    Jeff J

    As I'm sure it been said ,but the computers system programs they have is set up so they have to ask year,model,make, etc etc. As the catalog racks are almost a thing of the past to compare and look up parts by dimension size and shapes or pictures ! If you go to the chain stores to get your parts don't get mad a the clerks as that's the way they are trained from the corporation's . Which may not be right for our vehicle's but for there world .it is of replacement parts on new vehicle's and the fastest and profitable ! It's all about numbers and profit for the stock holders and the CEO of the corporations !
    Montana1 likes this.
  6. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,734


    Since I know what all the parts on my vehicles originally came off of I usually look up the parts and then take the part numbers with me and hand it to whoever is at the counter.
    trollst likes this.
  7. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,097

    from So Cal

    I think it's kinda funny that NAPA stores are considered the ones with the knowledgeable parts guys these days. I remember when NAPA stores were the joke. Serious parts guys worked at the local mom & pop parts stores. Local to me was Trio Auto Parts; and then there was Fullerton Auto Parts, where my buddy worked in the machine shop; and Stanton Auto Parts, where my dad knew the guys and I would get the good guy prices if I mentioned his name. These were the real deal parts guys, that looked up parts in a rack of catalogs several feet long. Whatever it was you needed, they could & would find it.

    My dad was a parts man at the local IH ag tractor and small utility equipment dealership. He always carried a small brass caliper in his pocket, so he could measure o-rings, seals, shafts, bearings, and could get you the parts you needed by matching them up. One of my brothers was a parts man with the local IH truck shop, eventually moving into sales. Another brother took over for my dad at the parts counter of the tractor dealer, and I hired on into the shop.

    Yeah, parts purchasing public can be a real pain in the ass to the parts guys, but every mechanic loves a good parts guy. The frustration you see in these threads is because it is so hard to find a good parts guy these days, and it makes our jobs 100x more difficult.

    But NAPA being the experts, I still struggle with that......
    partssaloon and Montana1 like this.
  8. flatheadpete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2003
    Posts: 10,033

    from Burton, MI

    Lemme just say...any of you on this board need help with GM parts for a newer vehicle...hit me up. I'll do what I can. If ya buy from me I'll ship free and give ya 'my price'. I like being a parts guy. And the techs at work know who the best parts guy is...
    Montana1 likes this.
  9. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,459

    from Alabama

    It's a game and you have to know how to play.
    These parts guys can't recommend a part even if they knew exactly what the customer needed. The counter person is trained to go by the computer. If he or she recommend what he thinks will work it could be his or her job.

    A knowledgeable car guy is " deprogrammed " to work the counter.

    It's the customers job to know what part to get especially if it is off the reservation.

    It's funny we pointed out it's no longer 1955. The retail industry box store system has not caught up with the net. They ( the main parts houses) are still operating like it's 1989 with thier mark up. They are no longer the only game in town so time will tell.
    Maverick Daddy likes this.
  10. We had ABC Auto Parts locally when I was a kid in northern IL. There was this tall, skinny, bald headed guy named Denny that could tell you the part numbers, whether it was in stock and where it was on the shelf, all from memory.

    If he didn't have it in stock, he'd get it by noon. If it was after noon, he'd have it by 7am the next morning. Those were the days!

    We lived in the best of times! ;)
    Blues4U likes this.
  11. 34Larry
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 1,435


    In short ....................yes.
    Would have expected him to go where the adhesives shelves are and let me look myself. Because..................brake pad cement is brake pad cement, is brake pad cement,
    whether its needed for my need or any other year car running disks. I doubt that the year of car matters at all in grabbing a can of disk brake glue, adhesive, or cement, what every you prefer to call it.

    I think you've busted my chops before on some trivial little thing 31Vicky, what's up with that? But I thank you for giving me the correct way of conducting myself in the parts store. I would venture you have more experience than I do. Mine only goes back to the early 50's.

  12. Gasoline Junkie
    Joined: Nov 20, 2010
    Posts: 329

    Gasoline Junkie

    Oreilly's actually does have a flux capacitor listing in the computer

    Sent from my SM-G930T using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    belair and F-ONE like this.
  13. partssaloon
    Joined: Jan 28, 2009
    Posts: 479


    Having been in the parts business for over 30 years I've collected my share of catalogs. With the advent of the computer you are only going to get what you ask for and what they can look up by application. With a catalog there is so many related items the are available to make the job easier or complete ( special fittings for master cyls.) etc. I could help the customer so much quicker and better when he told me what he was working on and building. The shop next door to my store was the guy who put a hemi in a 56 Ford or a Cad in a 57 Chevy. I learned the books from the back pages forward. 31Vicki has it right, let them know what you are doing , of course you have to get the guy that is interested in cars not computers. (Blues4U I worked at one of the store you are talking about). There are some guys that are putting up with the lousy wage that will help you.
    I also have started parts sheets on my cars with the PART NUMBER listed
    Blues4U and Montana1 like this.
  14. Gasoline Junkie
    Joined: Nov 20, 2010
    Posts: 329

    Gasoline Junkie

    So i was talking with my parts guy at work, talkin about the old stuff.. says there's an old timer at the Chevy store who stashed all the old books away so they wouldn't get thrown out.. Gotta check this out it might be the answer to my prayers i'll keep you guys posted!

    Sent from my SM-G930T using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    rjones35 likes this.
  15. You haven't been dealing with the millennial mentality since the early 1950's, And I don't care who you are. Look at it this way, when you're at the counter there are just 2 people interested in you getting what you want and one of them is rapidly going to loose that interest. Take it for what it's worth or don't. Any place you walk into a millennial will be waiting there to help you.

    I don't recall busting your chops earlier, before or now.
  16. DenK
    Joined: May 22, 2011
    Posts: 122


    Have a Delco starter on a lawnmower. Yup, made in China.
    Iguess these outfits buy up brand names.
  17. winduptoy
    Joined: Feb 19, 2013
    Posts: 2,226


  18. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 3,614


    Years ago I went into a local shop, DV Aldous,that only did brake parts. I needed wheel cylinder for my '42 Fargo. "Mrs. A" simply went over to the shelf and pulled them for me. She really knew her stuff. Never saw her look at a parts book anytime I was in there. A couple of weeks ago I went to a parts store and asked for the camshaft seal for an o/t car. They gave me the same seal as the crankshaft. I said it didn't look right so they checked agai, showed me the listing so I bought it. Next day I went back with the original and they went searching again and came up with the same PN. Returned the incorrect part and then went to another location and they also had the same part number. I showed the older guy the original seal and said that someone at the head office entered the PN incorrectly. He checked different brands and got me the correct seal. He said he was going to contact the head office to have them correct the error and gave me the correct part at their cost. Sometimes it's not the counter person but the keyboard person!
    trollst likes this.
  19. I don't care for the computerized approach, but just occurred to me that if the counter guy didn't go through all the computer business, he probably couldn't get a price, print an invoice or keep the inventory accurate. So, when they ask all those silly questions that the computer wants, it's probably necessary in order to complete the transaction. I guess if the computer goes down, you don't buy any parts that day.
  20. 0NE BAD 51 MERC
    Joined: Nov 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,409

    0NE BAD 51 MERC

    Yeah ,the good old days. I am 63 , been working on cars for 50 years. I remember those guys that new all the part numbers by heart. But I am pretty sure if I walked into the local parts houseback in 1971 and asked the head parts guru for engine parts for a 40 year old motor in an 80 year old car he would have given me a dumb look too. I owned a restoration and hot rod shop for 30 years and my one buddy owns and several other buddies work at the local NAPA. This store dates back to 1946 and there are catalogs dating back to then under the counter and I can locate parts and interchanges numbers up the wazoo. But just because you can find the part number does not mean anyone has them! And I guess we all better get use to ordering online from who knows who, made from who knows what and hope you get what you actually want. Because the days of the brick and block stores and their incompetent counter people are numbered. And if you think the pimpled face counter person has a dumb look on their face , wait till you see the one on the computer when you try to tell it ,it made a mistake. Larry
  21. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 6,761

    anthony myrick

    Set up a commercial account.
    Talk the the same couple of sales people every time
    Have to build that relationship
    You have to understand cars have changed. Memorizing 2 alternator numbers for 1 car brand is not gonna happen
    I generally look up part numbers and give them to my commercial sales lady
    She is super
    trollst likes this.
  22. It's all relative. I don't have any Mom and Pops part stores close by. Napa, Advance or Auto zone are my choices if I need something right away. Mac at Penn Auto was the best, rest his soul. I miss him.
  23. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 770

    ken bogren

    It can be really frustrating, but the parts counter guy didn't write the software.
    And the guy that did write the software may have no experience in the car/parts field beyond writing the software to the spec that he was given by someone farther up the chain.
    And the guy farther up the chain may well be working more to a cost focus vs a customer service or efficiency focus.
  24. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,346


    About 25 years ago I sold a 1940 Ford pickup with a 350 SBC, 400 trans, Buick Apollo rear axle, etc. Typical of what we do here. When I sold it I gave the buyer a very detailed Excel spreadsheet of the parts and what they were from in order to make it easy for him when it was time to replace the benicheehead for the aludium modulator. I also made a video where I went over the whole vehicle and as I'd see a part I'd describe what it was from, if it was modified, etc. It took some time to do, but he's told me a couple times that he was very happy to have the info as it has saved him a lot of time at the parts counter.
    belair, David Gersic and wraymen like this.
  25. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,459

    from Alabama

    Here's one that will make you think. It may even make you mad.
    My Dad bought a part for his truck. He paid up front in cash plus the 50 dollar core charge.
    The part was rung up as say $100 including core. My father paid $110.
    He brought his core back and they refunded him $ 50. He said this is not right. Y'all owe me $5 back in sales tax. I paid $100 for the part and core plus $10 tax. The part is $50 plus $5 tax. I paid $110.
    $110 -$50 = $60.....So I want my five bucks.
    Everybody from the manager to the stock boy had that cash register/ computer doing everything but painting the walls but it would not refund that $5.

    Think about that store in a week. Think of all th stores city wide. Statewide and finally nationwide.......
    That's a lot of money. Where is it going?
  26. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,037


    1964 impala for short water pump small blocks, 1971 impala for long water pump.
    Blues4U likes this.
  27. mountainman2
    Joined: Sep 16, 2013
    Posts: 320


    Hell, I've been in two different Subways that could not sell me a sandwich because their internet was down. o_O
    Montana1 likes this.
  28. [​IMG]

    Next week it's muffler bearings.
    Clay Belt and Montana1 like this.
  29. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,741


    I hear you! I collected a lot of old(new at the time) catalogs to keep in my shop on things I used. Have had the parts guy in the back of O’Reilly’s call me at times to check on an old part number, as he knows I still have them now at my home shop. We go back over forty years together. Bones
    Bleach, Thor1, rjones35 and 1 other person like this.
  30. A couple of summers ago I needed a power brake booster diaphragm for the OT motorhome. I had already hijacked the one out of my new spare booster that I always carry with me and I need to replace it.

    While I was at a friends in MO, I told him what I needed and he told me that there was a brake re-manufacturer right down the road from his car lot. He told me to go down there and see if they have one. So, I decided to go check.

    I took the old one with me and as I was walking across the parking lot, I noticed they were all outside on break. One of the gals got my attention and called out the part # from the picnic table! I said, "WHAT?" She repeated it again!

    She got right up from her break and came inside and got me another diaphragm off the shelf. I asked her how much, and she said $25 cash, no computers.

    I couldn't believe it! :eek::D;)

    You can't buy just a diaphragm at a parts house, you have to buy the whole master cylinder with a booster for $250. PTL! ;)
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
    BJR likes this.

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