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Finding car parts

July 29, 2015
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Sometimes people get hot under the collar when a seemingly simple car repair takes a long time to get done. Sometimes the problem is a lack of skill, and sometimes it's a lack of parts. A shop should be able to correct the skill shortage by training or hiring. The parts problems, however, can just drive us nuts. Sometimes we simply can't lay hands on the necessary parts in a reasonable amount of time.

"How can that be?," you ask. "You can find anything on the internet!" The answer is that there is a difference between seeing a part on a computer screen and laying hands on it.

Here are some examples that have happened in the last few weeks.

n A couple of very nice ladies drove up in their 2003 Chrysler Crossfire and asked if anyone could help them get their convertible top up. It was part way up, but stuck. An inspection showed that a hydraulic cylinder that operated the convertible top was leaking and the resulting loss of fluid was the problem. We pushed and pulled until we got the top up for them, and assured them that we could replace the leaking cylinder for them, a fairly simple job. We then began looking for a replacement cylinder. Our after-market sources told us it was too specialized for them, it would be only available from the new car dealer. We called our local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealer. They told us the part was not available from them because the car was more than 10 years old and they don't stock parts for cars that old. "It's made by Mercedes Benz," they said. "You'll have to get it from the Mercedes dealer. Here's their part number." We called the Mercedes dealer. "That's not a Mercedes number," they said. "We have no way to look it up on a Chrysler. Try the Chrysler dealer." On the internet we located a company in Oregon which would rebuild the old cylinder. We had to remove the cylinder and ship it to Oregon for rebuilding, with a few days shipping each way and the turn-around time for the rebuild, it was about a two-week job. The actual repair would only take about an hour.

n An older Jeep came in with a leaking transmission cooler line. Those lines are factory made with pre-bent steel tubing and rubber hoses with snap lock fittings. Almost impossible to fabricate in the field. The local dealership didn't have one, but a dealer in Alabama did, and they said they could get it in two days. We ordered it. Eight days later it arrived. "That's Chrysler for ya," said the Chrysler parts clerk.

n A 2001 Chrysler Sebring needed the rubber bushings that mount the front struts. The after-market bushings never seem to fit quite right, so we have been using bushings from the dealership for many years. We called to order some. "We're not carrying those anymore. Those cars are too old." We had to use the aftermarket bushings.

n A very frustrated man called. He had lost his ignition key to his Chrysler Sebring at the Beach. He called a locksmith, who took his steering column apart, but then said he couldn't fix it, it would have to be done by a dealership. He had it towed to the dealership, where they told him they couldn't fix it either, because the steering column and switch was made by Mitsubishi and they no longer kept parts for those. They suggested he try to find a used Mitsubishi steering column to put in his Sebring. I suggested he take off his shoe and beat it on the service manager's desk until they fixed his car.

n A man brought in an older but very well maintained Lincoln Town Car. Among other things, the six way power seat only partially worked. The power seat assembly with three motors and gears and tracks have to be replaced as a unit, usually costing around $700 from the dealership. But, in this case, the dealership didn't have any, because the car was over 10 years old. We had to resort to recycle yards to locate one from a wreck. The first one we received was no better than what we had. The next one was the wrong style. The third one also was defective. The fourth one finally worked. Nobody pays for the labor to install the first three.

Yelling at your mechanic for taking so long to find a part might not be a smart move. Remember, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Larry DeHays is the author of the book "The Car Care World", a compilation of his most popular columns. It is available now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble,, or at the DeHays Automotive office, 17617 Broadway Ave., Fort Myers Beach. He has been an ASE Certified Technician for 37 years and an arbitrator for the Florida Lemon Law for 16 years. For more information go to or



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