[200q20v] putting the "OWWWW!" into Audi (long)

Phil Rose pjrose at frontiernet.net
Sat Dec 15 12:34:12 EST 2001

LONG POST. You may want to skip down to last half of it to read my
"OWWWW-di Parts-Counter Challenge".

The shipment of parts for my timing belt job arrived yesterday--on
time--from Rod (at TPC). Gotta love ol' Rod at TPC. There was _one_
glitch: the water-pump rubber seal, which Rod promised would be
included with the pump--it wasn't there. There was a sealed box with
oem pump, but no rubber o-ring. Rod was extremely apologetic and also
amazed that the box failed to contain the expected o-ring. In fact he
recalled he had discouraged me from ordering a separate o-ring, since
there definitely would be one _with_ the oem pump. Anyway, since he
wouldn't be able to send an o-ring soon enough for my needs, he
advised that I buy one locally and he would issue me a credit.

"Fair enough," I said, "but this is Rochester, and getting even the
most simple Audi parts is often impossible. I doubt that the local
Audi dealer will  have it."

"Whaaaaaat!", Rod exclaimed. "A water-pump seal not available from
your dealer? You gotta be kidding. Do you have any VW dealers

"Yes," I replied, "two of them."

"Well AFAIR,  a number of VW models use that same seal," he said.

So, afterwards, I called the Audi parts dept (at John Holtz Audi). I
gave them a part description and the p/n, and in a few moments the
reply--as expected--was: "That'll have to be a special order."

Next call was to Dorschel VW. The response: "We'll have to order
that."    Click. And on it went.

Finally, I located a seal at a place called Select Transportation (an
independent shop specializing in VW/Audi), but that would require a
70-80 mile round trip. Before starting out for the hinterlands, I
made one more call--to a small parts-supply place located just a
couple of miles from my house. Hurrah! They had a couple of the seals
in stock. Price $1.75. End of crisis.

When I drove over to purchase up the seal, I mentioned to the counter
guy that this part was something I'd been unable to locate at any of
the Audi/VW dealers in town. His response? "Hah! They probably had
'em, but just didn't want to sell it to you!"

I scoffed,  and then I began to wonder. Is that ploy actually used by
certain dealers? Will some dealers actually lie (what? dealers lie?)
about parts-availability so as to (a) fatten their wallets by
requiring a "special order" surcharge, and/or (b) to discourage small
"nuisance" orders from do-it-yourselfers, like us? That could explain
why the same local Audi dealer could not sell me an 11.2x820 cm drive
belt (p/n 034 903 137 A  for alternator) except by "special order"!
That dealer also claimed he did not stock the alternator
belt-adjuster wheel (p/n 026 903 555A).  Both times they verified
that the part wan't just temporarily "out", but that it wasn't kept
in stock at all.

We often will pay dealers their outrageous markups--and we'll try to
rationalize that maybe it's justified because they carry the overhead
of a large inventory-- available to you when needed, blah, blah. But,
when they charge outrageous prices _and_ fail to carry common
parts--then I get pissed. Some of you may accept the standard dealer
explanation of "Well, you know that's for a 10-yr-old car!". That
sure makes me bristle.

So here's my "challenge".  Next time you have to call your favorite
local, authorized Audi dealer (places like Clair and Carlsen Audi
don't count), enquire also about the availability of the following
three items.

(1) belt (11.2x820 for alternator)		034 903 137A
(2) bolt (with toothed tensioner)		026 903 555A
(3) seal (water pump)			035 121 043

Are they in stock? Or, is it the old "We can get 'em for ya?"

If you report your result to me by personal email; I'll tabulate and
eventually post back to the list.

What'll it prove? Probably not much beyond the fact that many dealers
are inept and/or unconcerned about customer satisfaction--especially
ones who are trying to maintain 10-yr-old Audis. But maybe it could
be used to help light a fire (whoops, bad choice of words?) under
AoA--to upgrade the inventory carried by their dealerships.

In any event, it'll sure get the parts counter guy wondering about
several such inquiries within a few days time.



Phil Rose				Rochester, NY
'91 200q	(130 kmiles, Lago blue)
'91 200q   (57 kmiles, Tornado red)
	mailto:pjrose at frontiernet.net

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