Engine Air Cleaner housing and The Parts Department

2000 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup Quad Cab V8 5.9l 2WD 165,000 miles This is the third time out of three where I had a non-satisfactory experience with the parts department of a local Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep
dealer. I am saying Ďaí local dealer as there are other dealers in town and I donít like to generalize. Not sure if anybody reading this is familiar with Dave Ramsey, but he reminds people that call in complaining about Bank of America, that it is their choice to bank there, and if they donít like the way they are treated or the service, that they are free to go anywhere else. In other words, it is my fault that it happened the third time, and my excuse is twofold: it is convenience as I drive by them every day, and that what I need is not complicated so they should be able to handle it. I am writing about this to a) document the details about the part in case somebody else runs into the same issue with the part and b) to describe a non- satisfactory experience with the parts department. In the 10+ years that I had the truck (I am the second owner and bought the truck when it was 20 months old and had 30k miles on it), it has been in a shop 5 times max (including and only once at this dealer for a recall), meaning I do pretty much everything myself. However, in my opinion, the attitude of the parts people gives me the feeling that they feel bothered by my question, and that they believe I donít know what I am talking about. In the case before this one, I was ordering a part for a different car (Jeep Cherokee) and was looking at the graphic at the computer of the part and stated to them that it is similar but not the same. They guy argued till I ended the conversation with committing to pulling out the part by the next day (I originally wanted to have the spare part at hand when I take it out) and put it on his table, which I did. The next day in front of the part he had to admit that it was in fact different. Digging deeper, he found an explanation that this was a design change compared to the original part. Go figure. I was there because the part did not last in its original design. What really gets me is, that these folks should know that and/ or dig out these rather important facts from the very beginning. My conclusion is that they never worked on a car not to mention a Dodge or Chrysler or Jeep, or that it was so long ago that they lost touch with the mechanics of cars. Based on their fingers being clean and manicured and the fact that they wear white spotless button-up shirts and khaki pants proves that point. But then donít put a plaque awarded for customer excellence on your desk if that is the service you deliver otherwise I assume that the dealer has a rotation by which these awards are given out and it was simply the parts guyís turn to get one based on that rotation, but not based on actual customer feedback. Maybe somebody amongst the readers actually knows how somebody gets this job and can shine some light on the necessary qualifications and keep-up with such. The story does not end here. I demanded to talk to a mechanic as I could not see how this new design could fit. This is one of those fancy dealers where you when you have your car serviced, you drive up, are greeted, the paperwork is done and you can hang out on the shiny sales floor while your car is driven off to the mechanic. You never see a mechanic nor the work bays. They seriously wanted to charge me for just talking to one. They finally got one without me having to pay (and he actually had grease on his work cloth and fingers) and he explained it to me and it made sense (I had to take one more connection off and the new part would fit in there, basically one connection was eliminated, the one that was giving this car the problem, hence redesign). Anyhow, this time I had to order the housing for the engine air cleaner/filter. I could have gotten an aftermarket performance- improving, etc. design/brand, but I wanted to stick with the original mainly for maintenance reason as it is easy and cheap to just pick up the original air fitler type at any auto parts store for future changes. Even at this mileage and age of the truck, the housing has maybe been opened 5 times to change the filter. But nevertheless, the plastic had become so brittle, that the little hooks on the rear had all (there are four) broken off and it hence was leaving a little gap when assembled. I figured I just change that box besides the fact that this is clearly a material defect. The plastic should be designed to last 30 years even while an in area (engine compartment on top of engine) where it is exposed to very hot temperatures when the engine is operating. When I ordered the part, I pointed to the picture and said I want the entire box. It was one part number (4897529-AA BODY AIR 14029001) and $97. Steep price, but I justified it by it having lasted 10 years. What I got however was the lower half of the housing only. You cannot tell me that he was thinking when ordering/selling me the part. My mistake, I assumed that the one part number listed on my invoice and the price of ~ $100 would represent the whole thing. I need to assume now that the entire assembly runs $200+ minimum (I would have not ordered it at that price but rather put two $3 shells around it to keep it together). They guy I dealt with when I picked it up and started to voice my dissatisfaction spent another 30min on his computer and printed a parts list of about 5 parts. Makes sense, because there is a lower half, a top half, clams (3), a rubber boot and a plastic pin that makes the housing assembly besides the air filter itself, the shell that secures it to the carburetor and the gasket in between. I got lucky, the hooks that had broken off where in fact on the lower half. I was able to reuse the three clams and also the rubber boot and plastic pin (latter two where tricky to extract as they are not designed to ever be separated from the housing once together) to get the housing completed out of all existing parts except the new lower half. They guy then tells me that I would actually have to order 3 parts Ė lower and upper half and a hose, as the design was changed pointing at the note and picture. And yes, the hose connected to the upper half comes in the new design out towards the rear instead of on the driver side. Well, yet again, it would have been nice to have all those details upfront to make an informed decision. Maybe I didnít look hard enough, but I tried to find the part on the internet (typically shop at rockauto.com) and at the local parts store, but I was unable to locate the original design and only therefore I ended up at the dealer. The point in all this is, I wish there would be experienced mechanics that still get dirty selling you parts with an attitude and a desire to spread their knowledge to their customers educating you to consider all your options. Also, if you run into this, you may want to make sure to order the whole housing assembly or realize that you only getting one of the parts that make up the whole thing. I have taken a picture if anybody is interested lower half with the broken hooks. Oh BTW, the third time I was there was a recall, that 4 weeks before it became an official recall when I drove up and complained about it (truck was 7 years old at this point and hence they denied any claim initially), they actually broke a part that I then waited 6 month for. The local Firestone shop had at three other occasions touched the same part without breaking it. So much for Ďfactory trained techniciansí, only good news was the entire procedure was free because of recall. Axel
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Best parts-counter guy I ever knew was Calvin King... he used to work at A&B Auto Parts in southeastern VA.. The dude knew what you needed, remembered what you were driving (or at least bothered to look outside the window to try and guess), and if he had the one part you needed in a set, would break the set to sell you the part.
Unfortunately, he was the exception to the rule of piss-poor service by parts 'professionals'.
He moved on to a dealership somewhere further south.. The service at the store promptly went downhill, and the place is no longer in business...
Where I live now, there are a couple stores where they try to please you, but often it is the parts themselves or the delivery of said parts that kills you. Dealerships -- forget it.. The Dodge dealer has had at least three owners in the past 7 years.. The local BMW dealer wants every bit of information about you transmitted via fax or email (yeah sure!) before they will sell or order parts for you over the phone (yeah, it's fun driving 40 miles+ each way for a 10 dollar part, especially when it doesn't arrive the day they said it would)...
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