Buying Parts for Your Used Volkswagen Car
There are many less than new cars on the road, on average, the car owner is now keeping them anywhere between 6-10 years. With that, sooner or later the car will need parts and of course, you seek the best for the least-that is a dilemma. The old saying, "you get what you pay for" is most true most of the time. Then, when you cannot find what you need locally, you search the WWW. You are sure to find someone selling what you need, but that is where the other old saying enters, "buyer beware". As with the other old saying, it can be an issue even when the business appear reputable after researching its BBB (better business bureau) rating, which does so how many complaints or issues have been filed, Yelp, various forums that deal with your car make, customers). Just because everything seems good, does not mean, it is.
When buying car parts, the issue is further complicated by demand for the part you seek, are there only a few being sold, location, shipping and most importantly, is the part new (never used) or reconditioned (used). Then, deeper, what did reconditioning consist of? just cleaning? testing? rebuilt with new or good used parts? You may never know. It becomes an act of faith. Just make sure they have a good return policy.
My story is recent. My 2006 VW Jetta TDI suffered major damage when the timing belt broke. We were cruising when suddenly, I had no power. Nothing alerted me it was this serious. The engine needed a new engine head. The problem was the 2005-06 models had an engine code of BRM. Little did I know, they were hard to find. Prices were impacted by this from $1000-3000.Had the engine had a BKW code, or other, finding one would not have been an ordeal. Nothing was found locally, so I search on the WWW. Even that, yielded only a few within that insane range.
Then, I found Rothenbacher Engineering, DBA Han's Auto Parts, LKS, and VW parts. They had a great BBB rating, lots of happy customers, decent return policy, a ton of VW parts for all makes, they had a 2 yr. part warranty for all, and have sold over $500,000 in 2010. Of course, they had exactly what I needed for $590, far less than anyone, ready to install. The photo made it look new. I bought it, knowing it was reconditioned. Upon its arrival (this is where the Buyer Beware and You Get What You Pay For come in) my mechanic checked it out. It did look nice, like-new in most respects BUT one. Upon, turning it over, a good size notch was discovered (see photo). The part was taken to a machine shop, which indicated these engines cannot be resurfaced because it takes them out of spec. The mechanic would not use it because of his own shop's warranty and because the diesel engine is very high compression. If he were use it, as soon as the engine revved, the engine would blow again. So, they sold me a defective part that I had to ship back at my expense.
Of the 21 complaints filed against them, 17 were for defective parts. If you visit online VW forums, you will see many stories of woe from past customers. They often simply take off parts, clean them and resell them, The company has 5-12 employees and is owned by Peter Rothenbacher in Matthews, NC.