Every year dealers all over the US throw away thousands of dollars worth of new parts that they simple have not sold. Why do they do this? Dealerships have to pay tax on the inventory that they keep in stock so they watch their inventory levels closely. When a part reaches a certain time frame without selling the dealer considers this part obsolete. The time frame in question differs depending on the dealer or the opinion of the parts manager, but in most cases it is 365 days with no sale. However many dealers consider 270 days with no sale to be obsolete or unsellable.
So how then can you find out what is out there? There are a few web resources you can use but most will require you to have a part number and some are only available to the dealers.
Let’s suppose that you are looking for a part for an older Chrysler. You call the dealer to find the part and he says the part has been discontinued. You can then ask him to run a parts locator to see if the part is available anywhere in the US. If the part is listed you could get the part number and call the dealer and work a deal. I am guessing you are thinking ‘Why not have the dealer get the part shipped in for me?’ here is why. When a dealer ships in a part for you they are paying a marked up cost on the part. Chances are that the dealer they are getting the part from has already written off the part and has declared their cost to be lower than the actual cost of the part. So if you have the dealer ship the part in you will be paying full retail for the part and a good markup for the shipping. I guarantee the only truly happy party in that scenario is the dealer that finally got rid of the part. This is why you should contact the dealer that has the part on the shelf. In most cases the dealer would be willing to part with this old part for 50 cents on the dollar or less. Now in my mind that is far better than paying retail price.
How did I find out about this? I have spent every year since 1997 in the automotive dealer industry and have colleagues that have spent upward of 20 to 30 years in the industry. We have worked at the dealership level and for software companies that provide service to dealerships. We found that old parts sitting on the shelf was a point of pain and that a lot of the reason they had old parts was because in there direct market there was not a need. However we found that if they could expand their market they would be able to have a chance of selling these parts. What better way is there of expanding the market than letting the cat out of the bag and letting people know that if they are looking for original parts there is a way to get them at a discount.