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Wheeler? Dealer! - Where To Look For A Deal

Posted in Features on April 9, 2014
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We’ve been told that you don’t have to be a cheapskate to enjoy getting a good deal. Honestly, we would not know because we here at Jp are most certainly cheapskates. Having said that, saving your, or our, hard-earned cash is always a good idea. Part of getting a good deal is knowing how, when, and where to look for what you want and then knowing how to get the best deal possible when cash is on the table. How do you become a Jeep part deal maker? How do you at least know you are not getting ripped off? Well, like most things, it’s hard to replace experience with tips and tricks, but we are here to help you become the best Jeep and Jeep parts haggler possible.

Know What You Want

Think you need to build up a Dana 60 front axle for your Jeep? Think you can spot one a 1⁄4-mile off? Have you ever heard of a Dana 50 or Dana 61? If not, you might be in trouble. If you have, do you know how to tell the difference between a Dana 50, Dana 60, or Dana 61? What if you can, but you are not sure how to identify unit bearings, kingpins versus ball joints, or the less desirable hubs sometimes found on early Dana 60s? See what we are getting at? You need to be sure what you see is what you actually want so that you can avoid paying a lot of cash for something that won’t work for you or will end up costing you more cash. Know what you are looking for, know what it’s worth, and know what you can spend.

Getting a good deal involves knowing what you want and what to look for to be sure that what you are looking at is what you think it is. Knowing what part numbers to check and what measurements to take helps to confirm that you are getting what you want or need. One week we picked up a Dana 44 for a TJ and an SM420 transmission. ID’ing the Dana 44 was easy—since we are Jeep nuts, we can spot one from 20 yards. The SM420 meant bringing a tape measure and checking numbers cast in the housing to be sure it was what we wanted.

Wait for It…Wait for It!

Getting a truly screaming deal on a Jeep or Jeep part either takes lots of luck or lots of time and effort. If you want a Jeep project or part that the seller is just asking too much for, contact them and make a reasonable offer. If they refuse, and you are confident your price is good and theirs is high, make a good impression on them (so they will remember you) and then be ready to wait. Don’t burn bridges, but let them know that you are still interested if they can come off the price a bit more. This is a gamble, and if you have to have the item you’d better pony up to their price. The part or project is worth whatever someone is willing to pay, so if your offer is real and their price is not, chances are that no one else is gonna come along who will pay them what they want. If they have the item for a few more months or a few more years, they may realize that your offer was as good as it’s gonna get, and then you can get a deal. We’ve used this method to pick up a few projects where the owner had to come back down to Earth before anyone would buy them. The same is true for junkyards. Spending time there is gonna be key. That junkyard Dana 60 front axle, Wagoneer Dana 44 front axle, or Cherokee Dana 44 rear axle just might show up some day, but if you are asleep at the wheel -- or on the couch, and not in the ’yard -- you are gonna miss it.

Where Are the Deals?

Speeling Counts: Deals are all around us, and knowing where to look is a key to getting good parts on the cheap. We could tell you to frequent places like Craigslist, and while that’s a good idea, chances are you already know that. One thing that you can do even on high-traffic used parts places like Jeep forums or Craigslist is to look where others are not looking. For example, let’s say you want a new-to-you winch for your Jeep project. How about searching Craigslist for sale lists for a Warren wench? Hopefully you won’t come up with an ad for some guy who is obsessed with medieval costumes and looking for a date, but rather a $250 Warn 8274 that no one else has called or emailed about. That’s a deal waiting to happen. Search for common misspellings of your favorite brands like Willies, Willy (again a dangerous web search), Willy’s, and so on.

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Swap Meet: So a swap meet sounds like a great place to find parts, but chances are that if you are looking at a sought-after part, the price is gonna be high and firm. If you want a deal, be ready to haggle, smile, and ask for a deal. If that does not work, stay late on the last day and hope the part you want is still there and the guy who brought it does not want to take it home. Similarly, a Jeep forum is gonna be filled with others looking for what you want and sellers who know what they have. Not necessarily a great way to get cheap parts, but occasionally a good place to find that one must-have item.

Junkyard Junkies: In all honesty, we’d rather spend time at just about any junkyard than the mall, fair, amusement park, or movie theater. Why? They are filled with wonderful things that others have decided are no good. False. There are thousands of awesome parts hidden in plain sight at junkyards around the country. We like the pick-your-part style of junkyards because frequently they have good stuff for cheap prices. The negative is that you have to know how to identify what it is you are looking for. Also, you have to pull the part yourself, but pulling the part is good practice for replacing the part on your Jeep.

eBay: Hopefully you don’t need us to tell you what eBay is, ’cause we won’t. We will, however, say that while the website that revolutionized why hoarders hoard can be a great spot for that must-have Jeep gizmo widget or doohickey. We’ve used it for finding rebuildable used parts. A perfect example is if you live in the boonies and need a used a 1.08-inch venturi Motorcraft 2100 carb after reading an article in your favorite Jeep-only magazine. eBay is the place to look. Of course there are no guarantees that the part you get is gonna be as shiny and nice as it may be in your head when you bid, but hey, you should probably pony up for a rebuild kit for any used carb anyway. We like ads with tons of good pictures, a “buy it now” option with a reasonable price, and one where the seller actually answers questions about their item.

Also, there’s the new eBay Now. A delivery option that can get local parts delivered to your driveway within an hour. That’s right, we said within an hour. eBay is currently working with automotive parts retailers to integrate their inventory into eBay Now. Sure, they charge for this service, but at $5 per store with a $25 minimum order, it’s not too bad if you need something now. The idea is great, and it’s only available in a few markets as of now, but that’s the kind of service that the weekend warrior/shade tree Jeeper needs!

How to Seal the Deal

Where To Meet: Generally it’s a good idea to meet up with your prospective Jeep parts vendor at a safe public venue. Sometimes that’s not possible, and you may have to go to someone’s house. Bring a friend and or tell someone where you are going. When possible, we usually try to meet at a gas station with a big parking lot so your dealing is not in the way of people actually using the gas station. If you are planning on trying to haggle down the price, ask them before you meet up if the price is negotiable. You don’t want to tick them off by knocking the price in half after getting them to drive out to meet you. Also, driving across town, state, or part of the lower 48 states with a trailer tells them that you really want their project or part. That makes haggling tougher. Oh, and if you didn’t already know this, cash is king. No checks, no credit cards.

The Dealing: Once there and you have met the seller, smile and use your manners. No one will give you a deal if you are rude or growling like a rabid raccoon. Be nice, listen, and show interest in the guy or gal’s Jeep stories. You want them to want to sell you the part, and you may learn something about the part or project you are about to buy. Know what the part is worth and then ask for a good deal or fair price. You can try a joke like: “Can I get a special price cause I look like your brother/sister?” It may help, or they may look at you like that rabid raccoon. Most likely it won’t hurt to ask for a deal -- everyone likes a deal. If you want the part and their price is good, take it without beating them up on the price and risk losing the part. Then ask if they have that other rare, but related part you are looking for. In the end if you play your cards right, you may get the deal, a deal on another part, a new source for parts, or possibly another Jeeping buddy.



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