Fleets get new lease on life with Mopar
Lenexa, Kan.—Automotive care shops can quickly give cars and light trucks a new lease on life with the ready availability of replacement engines and transmissions. But they’re not all created equal, and genuine Mopar powertrain products can provide a number of benefits to retail and fleet customers, said Keith Scheidt, parts director of New Century Dodge, which sells Mopar wholesale parts for all Fiat Chrysler Automobile nameplates throughout eastern Kansas and western Missouri.
Mopar remanufactured powertrain units are upgraded to correct known defects, bringing them up to current specifications, Scheidt said, who added that Mopar remans include more new parts, such as valves and seats, that in competitive reman units may be reground. Mopar units also provide peace-of-mind that there will not be a chargeback for a non-rebuildable core.
“We now have a no-fault core policy,” said Wholesale Parts Manager Dave Gibson, who pointed out that some core deposits, particularly on one popular transmission, now exceed the cost of the reman unit.
“As long as we get it back in the box and it’s together, it can have a hole in the side of the block,” Scheidt said.
The two industry veterans, who have worked together in the same business since 1984, under a handful of company names, said they don’t see pattern failures of engines and transmissions with manufacturing defects, and instead see most replacements needed for high mileage.
Although New Century stocks more than $1 million in parts inventory in its 14,000-square-foot warehouse, almost all the powertrain it sells is now stocked by manufacturer/distributor AER in its Kansas City distribution center. The change means next-day availability for most engines and transmissions, Scheidt said.
New Century operates four in-town delivery trucks and is a member of the Kansas City Parts Connection, which runs 11 daily routes in Missouri that serve as far east as Columbia, the Lake of the Ozarks, Kirksville, and north of St. Joseph; to Beatrice, Neb.; and in Kansas, to Pittsburg and Wichita.
“I tell our customers we cover nearly half of Missouri and a third of Kansas,” said Scheidt, who teams with AER Sales-Chrysler Regional Manager Greg Gordon to call on New Century customers and prospects.
Shops often prefer Mopar reman units but run into friction from insurance companies and extended-service contract companies, who often buy used engines and transmissions and ship them directly to the shop, Gibson said.
End-users who pay a little more for a premium product can look forward to a number of benefits, he said, including after-sale technical help, a “true” nationwide three-year/100,000-mile warranty, a “minimal” failure rate, and a flat labor allowance for independent repair shops.
“And our warranty stays with the vehicle,” Scheidt said. “So if the owner sells the car, that’s an added point for the buyer: ‘I put a reman in a year ago, and it has two years left on the warranty.’ It’s married to the VIN, not the customer.”
Parts order accuracy remains at the top of the wish list of wholesale customers, Scheidt said, and veteran New Century parts specialists Bobby Covington and Bryan Hunt each have about 30 years of parts experience, with “relative newcomer” Kenny Smith having several years of experience in the aftermarket.
Genuine Mopar powertrain products are “plug-and-play,” Scheidt said, with the correct application tied to the vehicle’s VIN, and not a number of applications consolidated into one part number.
And for other parts, New Century staff assist shops in not only getting the correct part, but in procedures needed for their installation, such as instructions for installing a Sprinter van quarter panel, or they may refer customers to New Century’s service department to see if they can assist. And they’re versed in the nuances of what ancillary parts may be needed for superseded parts, such as a hood redesigned to require a different style windshield washer nozzle, he said.
“So we automatically send new windshield washer nozzles,” Scheidt said. “Customers tell us, ‘One thing I know, when I order from you, you know what I need.’ Especially out in the country, when the Parts Connection truck shows up, they like to have the right part, or it’s another day’s wait, so experience means a lot.”