Used semi-truck parts often face an unfair perception of being of “lesser quality,” while the businesses selling them are dismissed as junkyards or scrapyards. However, this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Used truck parts are not only manufactured by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), but the beauty, or rather the utility of used parts, lies in the eyes of those smart enough to see them, buy them and sell them. Joshua Gwózdz, Marketing Specialist at Truck Parts Inventory (TPI), based in Canada, delves into the irony of labeling used parts as junk, explores the underlying reasons for the negative perspective surrounding them, and highlights the cost-effectiveness and reliability of the used truck parts market.
While it is considered a smart move to buy used parts, it should be noted that using solely new parts doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of intelligence on the part of the individual. Rather, it can be considered a less cost-effective approach. The fact of the matter is that at one point in time, every single truck component was OEM. So people pointing out the differences between new and used are essentially only drawing a comparison between OEM and used OEM. The phrase “junk” is purely derogatory.
Obviously, you’re not buying used brake pads, so why is there such a negative perspective on used truck parts? Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with used items, but the driving factor is generally a perception of the product and not the effectiveness of it. It’s the same reason you choose to buy one specific brand of toothpaste over another. The differences are minimal at best and often purely aesthetic, but the companies making them want you to buy more of the same thing without catching on that you’re paying more for the same or less.
This logic can be applied to used truck parts because most reluctance to buy used comes from aesthetics and perception rather than function or reliability. Could you imagine if every used engine looked brand new? The used truck parts industry would have no issues selling their inventory. In fact, TPI sellers who have the ability and capacity to dyno and put effort into the appearance of their product often sell more than those who don’t/can’t.
This may be correlation and not causation, but the reasoning is there, and it’s sound. When you are in the market for new clothes, you probably wouldn’t want the clothes stained or looking used, despite the used clothes fulfilling the same need to cover your body as new ones. The new clothes may be twice the cost, but they look cleaner. Now apply the same logic to the trucking industry, only instead of a $20 shirt, it’s a $20,000 DPF system.
In an industry where nearly everything is expensive and adds up very quickly, cost-effectiveness is playing more and more of a role and will continue to do so as we head into hard economic times. Cost-effectiveness is where the used truck parts market really shines. After all, why spend thousands of dollars on something new when it’s just as likely to fail as the cheaper version?
You may be thinking, “They’re called junkyards for a reason!”. Except that’s not entirely the case. Selling a poor quality item, or junk helps absolutely nobody in our line of work. So ask yourself what good will come from a salvage yard selling you a junk part, and consider that aside from making a quick buck (which many yards are not concerned about), they have literally no reason to sell you something of poor quality. TPI Sellers want repeat business, which doesn’t come from selling junk.
You might have been burned by buying used before, and chances are you’ve also been burned buying new too. Whether that’s the item you need being on backorder or the cost, the risk is still there. The difference with used parts is that our industry isn’t made up of huge faceless corporations and companies obsessed with the bottom line. Instead, the vast majority of yards and groups involved with selling used truck parts are family owned or smaller in scale.
Now think back to the question, “Why would they sell you something bad?” and remember that this isn’t a corporation you’re dealing with, but likely a family man or woman who is concerned about helping not only you but their kin as well. They won’t be inclined to sell you something that doesn’t work because if they do and you complain about it to enough people, they could go out of business.
That’s why things like returns and warranties are so prevalent in our industry. They get used no more often than the OEM warranties do. Of course, there’s the occasional seller who thinks they’re above rules and reputations, who may try and sell you junk. When this happens, they’re removed from our TPI Seller’s list and avoided like the plague. These types of sellers are where warranties are used, not your everyday parts transactions.
When you, as a trucker, or a mechanic or a dealership, succeed, the industry succeeds. And when the industry succeeds, we all succeed and grow. That’s the sense of security and pride that we’re trying to instil in everyone working with us and everyone within the industry.
If we can get enough people to not only take pride in the work they do with used parts but show it as well, then the stigma surrounding used truck parts should begin to fade as people realize the benefits of going with the more cost-friendly options.
Once people understand that OEM and used parts really only differ in terms of cost, the reluctance to go to the used truck parts market will decrease. Not only that, backorders will become less of an issue for OEMs if everyone opts for products that are already made. This will give OEMs time to catch up to the backlog demand and maybe focus on innovating designs rather than releasing a new model every year as Apple does with their iPhones.
An engine being run once does not make it junk, nor does a used truck or part warrant being called junk. If it functions properly and costs less, it’s no more junk than the used vehicle you drive. The utility of used truck parts lies in the eyes of those smart enough to find, buy and sell them.
Find out more about TPI at truckpartsinventory.com