Bhigdog

Auto Zone vs NAPA

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I'm replacing the exhaust system on my 69 big block Vette so I need a heat riser to ex manifold gasket. My NAPA store is owned by older guys that are anxious to help even if it means going into the old paper books....... BUT....................  I was near an Auto Zone so I figured I'd just stop in there. The store was manned by a kid barely old enough to shave and 30ish guy. I brought the heat riser along and as the kid was trying to find the gasket on his computer I showed him the heat riser and asked "do you know what this is". He said "no, what is it". About that time the other guy came over and I asked him if he knew what it was. He looked a few seconds and said "it's a butterfly for a single barrel carb."

I explained to them it was called a heat riser, how it worked and that it routes a portion of hot exhaust to a cold intake manifold to help vaporize the gas.

The guy thought a second and said "so it's a turbo charger". I said "no".

He then said "well a turbo charger uses exhaust."

He declared the heat riser sounded like something only GM would come up with.

I told him most all cars of the era used a similar system.

The whole exchange was civil and non confrontational.  The guy shook his head and walked away.

The kid found a listing for the gasket but not in stock.

I drove to NAPA and bought one.

$2.29...................Bob

 

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 Depends on the NAPA. The NAPA stores around me aren't much better than Autozone and no longer have the books. Add to that the last time I wanted something from NAPA that wasn't in stock they charged me to have the part shipped in without warning me ahead of time. I now very rarely go to NAPA.

 I now search the websites to try and find the parts myself before going to any of the parts stores.

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I drive past an AutoZone and an Advance AP then 8 miles to the NAPA store. And back. It is not like I didn't try them. The help was good but the parts let me down.

 

We bought our house in 1981. It had an existing Sears electric hot water heater. One of the elements failed. I called Sears Parts with the model and serial number. They vowed they never made such a unit even though their name was on a badge and the tag. I called APD, Appliance Parts Distributors. I got a little, gray haired, old lady on the phone and told her my problem. She asked "Is it square or round?" She handed me the part when I got there.

 

I think companies with a human resources department have a harder time at the customer level.

Bernie

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I went into a A.Z. to borrow a compression testing kit for all engines. The set had ends for only the 2 modern spark plugs none for the 7/8".

I was told by the manager those were the only sizes ever made.

I pulled a plug out of my pocket and said "then I take it you don't have 4 of these", his reply "we don't carry industrial parts"

The manager was around 50

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You should be educated when you walk into any parts store ...

 

You shouldn't look to them to do the educating ....

 

Most auto parts counter positions are entry level wage jobs.

 

Most don't pay the equivalent what old car guys made back in the day.

 

Some folks are  Quick To Criticize and Lament about " The Good Old Days " ....

 

 

Want Things To Change ?

 

MENTOR

 

One of my favorite museum visits was to NATMUS in Auburn, Indiana last year.

 

In the basement they run a thriving mentoring program teaching the Automotive Skills .....

 

Regarding Autozone ....

 

That is where I buy my parts ....

 

There and O'Reilly's.

 

Gave up un Napa years ago - the smaller stores do not carry lifetime parts in stock - that is not good when you are on the road.

 

 

 

Jim

 

 

Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)
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As 1937-44 pointed out above, the quality of a NAPA parts shopping experience depends on the store and its staff.  I'm lucky to have a NAPA Store staffed by knowledgeable, guys, in a nearby town, Umatilla, Florida.  If they don't have a part in stock, they can usually have it shipped in by 0700 the next day at no extra cost.

 

Cheers,

Bob

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13 minutes ago, Trulyvintage said:

You should be educated when you walk into any parts store ...

 

You shouldn't look to them to do the educating ....

 

Very true. The flip side is I shouldn't have to educate them. I did try, but it seemed above their pay grade. And so it goes.................Bob

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Try buying something for a (I'll mention that dirty word) for this site,  Hot Rod. I was working on a '46 Ford that was updated with disc brakes. When I went up to the counter at the auto parts store the kid asked "what year". I answered '46 Ford. He said that it's not in the system and they wouldn't have what I wanted anyway. I gave him the PN for the brake pads and he said "sir, these are not for that car". I told him that the car had been modified and he replied "but you know they are the wrong part and we can't take them back". I asked him to just give me what I asked for and even then, called the manager over to ask if it was alright to sell me the part. I'm 73 and remember the day's when you went into a parts store and the counterman knew the part you had in your hand and went to the shelf and got the right part.

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10 minutes ago, Trulyvintage said:

You should be educated when you walk into any parts store ...

 

You shouldn't look to them to do the educating ....

 

Most auto parts counter positions are entry level wage jobs.

 

Trulyvintage is right that the old car owner with obscure stuff like 7/8" spark plugs is asking too much to expect the counter person to know.  It has always been like that really, it's just that in the days of greasy counters and big parts books you might walk in with a bearing and seal asking for "one of these" and get it right.  My experience is the Autozone counter person does usually want to be helpful but the system does not make it easy with old oddball parts.

 

BUT the upside of this computerized parts world is that you can do some research online yourself and find things.  I recently needed a tiny speedometer gear pinion seal for a Turbo 350.  I had bought one from rockauto for pennies just to have in reserve and when I needed it I found it was not correct. I ran the number online and other sources also said it was correct.  I went to NAPA to buy one and they gave me the same part.  So I entered the GM part number from my original in a Google and came up with a few cross reference numbers.  I found (on line) that the local O Reilly's had a box in stock, I went in and asked to see them and I bought the right part for less than $1.  

 

Old timers may lament that they shouldn't have to do this themselves but I was happy to walk in knowing what I needed to see without having to go through the drill over and over again.  And this was for a part made by the millions, imagine for the same for something obscure.  Todd C

 

 

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I always check both pricing and store availability before I go to any local auto parts store. Here in northern VA the NAPA stores are no better than the big boxes. Parts are Chinesium either way, and rarely do any of them have the items in stock. Worse, more often than not their inventory data is wrong and they don't have it even when the website says they do. If I can afford the few days shipping, RockAuto is both more convenient and less expensive (including shipping).

Edited by joe_padavano (see edit history)
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To be truly scared just remember these same people or their siblings are manning the TSA checkpoints at our airports.

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What irritates me is having to educate counter help, when you know that the part is probably on the shelf. You guys with newer post war, Big Three cars are lucky, you should try this with a Studebaker. At least you don't have to educate the kid behind the counter who made your Chevrolet. 

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We're blessed with a local independent parts store with 3 knowledgeable countermen. They even hooked me up with a 3 pole solenoid that fit my wheelhorse out of one of their "stuff" boxes in back... and it took them 15 minutes to find it and since it wasn't in the computer they guessed 5 bucks ought to cover it...

 

I got an oddball size roll pin there because they took the time to look for it and when it came up 11 cents he said to just take it.  They have 6V and 12V bulbs - you know, the ones that are on a bubble card at 2/3.99. They charge anywhere from 38 to 54 cents apiece....... and all those tricky brass fittings are in a huge cabinet - they always find what I need......

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, 46 woodie said:

Try buying something for a (I'll mention that dirty word) for this site,  Hot Rod. I was working on a '46 Ford that was updated with disc brakes. When I went up to the counter at the auto parts store the kid asked "what year". I answered '46 Ford. He said that it's not in the system and they wouldn't have what I wanted anyway. I gave him the PN for the brake pads and he said "sir, these are not for that car". I told him that the car had been modified and he replied "but you know they are the wrong part and we can't take them back". I asked him to just give me what I asked for and even then, called the manager over to ask if it was alright to sell me the part. I'm 73 and remember the day's when you went into a parts store and the counterman knew the part you had in your hand and went to the shelf and got the right part.

 

 

No kidding.  I had a prewar Plymouth with a SBC and aftermarket air cleaner.  Some genius had plugged the PCV system which of course caused leaks.  I knew the year and application from the engine numbers so stock Chev valve, grommets and hoses were easy to find and fit OK.  Problem was the air cleaner had a nipple for the intake but it needed a fitting to connect the hose through the valve cover grommet (didn't go through the oil filler cap).  Nothing was listed and counter guys had no clue where to even start looking.  I ambled over to the Dorman miscellaneous parts rack and quickly found a plastic elbow that fit perfectly.  It was listed as a Ford part - not sure of its OEM use but it worked fine for my purpose.

 

I've had good and bad experiences with auto parts stores of all brands.  It really depends on how knowledgeable and willing to help the counter person is - again, good and bad experiences with both young and old.  I'd agree the computer systems make it hard to find out of the ordinary stuff.  OTOH, I'm able to look up OEM and store part numbers, usually see a picture of the part, find out if it's in stock, and order it before setting foot in the store.

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Methinks some of you are expecting too much!

 

We have both an O'Reilleys and NAPA. I shop at both, and have for 40 years. The NAPA store does a MUCH better job of retaining employees; I do not know why.

 

It costs too much to print catalogues these days, so the computer is now the tool of choice. Looking stuff up by using the vendor's computer program is less than efficient if one knows what one wants.

 

For years, I have kept a file for each vehicle with stickers from hoses, cardboard sleeves from belts, etc. Take in the old sticker, sleeve, whatever with the vendor name and part number, and ask for it.

 

One other item: my shop truck is a modified 1968 F-100. I kept a record of all modifications, but when I need a part for the Ford, I visit the local Ford dealer. No, their computer cannot help; BUT years ago I spent what seemed like a ridiculous sum at the time for the 6 inch thick Ford Master Parts book for the trucks. When I visit the dealer, I take the book and hand it to the parts manager. So far (knock on wood) EVERY part I have needed has been available; although often they have to order the part. No additional shipping, but occasionally (example the plastic horn ring retaining button bracket) there is a minimum (in this case 4) piece order. These were packaged 4 to the package.

 

I have answered the telephone for call in orders since 1974.  You should hear some of the requests I get from "knowledgeable" enthusiasts on the telephone. This topic is a double-edged sword! 😜

 

Jon. 

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This can happen at ANY auto parts store and I have experienced it also.

Is it such a big deal to educate the salesperson who likely has never heard of a heat riser?

 

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When I go to any parts stores I like to wait and get the old gentleman that most likely can not find his way home after work BUT  ask for a thingy or a watson valve he will be right on it  God Bless old car . Guys. 

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This also happens in other hobbies. Try going into a music store acquire a needle with a pre-amp for a mid-1960's stereo. Or better yet, a movie on an 11 inch CD. 1 out of 10 might help you with the pre-amp, but the 11 inch CD is just going to get blank stares.

 

Jon.

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1 hour ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

Big Three cars are lucky, you should try this with a Studebaker. At least you don't have to educate the kid behind the counter who made your Chevrolet. 

Actually, I often do have to explain what company made the Corvair.

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9 minutes ago, carbking said:

This also happens in other hobbies. Try going into a music store acquire a needle with a pre-amp for a mid-1960's stereo. Or better yet, a movie on an 11 inch CD. 1 out of 10 might help you with the pre-amp, but the 11 inch CD is just going to get blank stares.

 

Jon.

You might have better luck if you ask for a laser disc.

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the quality of service of auto part stores can vary from location to location, or even from month to month. here's a hint : crack open a cold beer, and go to the autozone web site first. it will tell you if they have the part, or if it can be ordered. don't tell me you don't have internet, i can prove you do.

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18 minutes ago, cahartley said:

Is it such a big deal to educate the salesperson who likely has never heard of a heat riser?

 

Nope. Not a big deal at all. That's why I took the time to explain what it is and what it does. Hopefully it took, but my guess is the next time I go in the store the kid will be long gone replaced by another kid trying to grow a bit of facial hair. My post wasn't a complaint or a rant. More of an observation.

Luckily my local NAPA store sounds like the one Vermontboy mentioned in the un-numbered post above.

It's run by the two sons of the store's founder.

I know they aren't all that way.........If only....................Bob

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5 minutes ago, cheezestaak2000 said:

the quality of service of auto part stores can vary from location to location, or even from month to month. here's a hint : crack open a cold beer, and go to the autozone web site first. it will tell you if they have the part, or if it can be ordered. don't tell me you don't have internet, i can prove you do.

 

I do indeed have a computer and just like the ones in most any store they are often flat out liars. ....."Gee, it says we have 6 of them but I guess not."..............Bob

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