Turning Over the Inventory, Part 2

Well, two bits of news here.  First off, the 1978 242 made it through the five-hour journey to go pick up the 1993 245.  This, in and of itself, was pretty amazing considering what I’ve been through on that car.  I can say this for certain – having the extra engine power going over some of the mountain passes made a huge difference compared to other times I’ve driven my B21F-powered 240s on the same road. The car also made it all the way back (10 hours total, about 600 miles of driving) with no issues! It’s been a difficult experience to get this 30-year old 242 back to reliable daily-drive status, but I think I can say that we’re nearly there. It’s been quite an expensive journey.

Here is the car that I went to go get:

IMG_4725

I drove the 1993 245 back home without a hitch, and there are pictures from today posted here, as well as a little info about the car.

The major issues with the car are that it’s going to need a valve shim adjustment soon (I own the tools, so no big deal here) and, much more horrifyingly, it’s going to need a new heater fan soon as well. The current fan is making the ‘shriek of death’ noise, which pretty much sounds like a wailing banshee swooping out of the shadows to devour your soul. Ok, maybe not that bad, but it’s still pretty loud.

An Open Letter to IPD

Now that my brake system appears to be in order, there is another point that I need to discuss:

Dear IPD,

Your prices are too high. I feel like a moron for having bought my front brake kit from you, and I am only consoled by the fact that I bought it at the garage sale where I received 10% off and free shipping, so hopefully the cost of shipping those heavy rotors and calipers ate into your outrageous margins.  Yes, I realize you do a lot for the community, what with hosting the garage sales, building concept cars, and sponsoring events, but let’s think about this carefully.

This kind of above-market pricing for widely-available products only makes people turn away from you and move to lower-cost vendors for commodity parts (like master cylinders & brake calipers, for example).  Why?  Because, like me, they feel cheated when they find out that they paid more than double for a commodity part.  (Caveat emptor you say?  Only one more reason not to trust you in the future.)   Sure, only IPD makes IPD sway bars, or carries XYZ imported part, but for how long?  We both know that your competition for these non-commodity specialized parts is increasing across all Volvo models.

The question is, how many customers can you afford to drive away with your high prices on these commodity parts?  Today’s 240 turbo driver is often tomorrow’s 850R / S60R / ??? driver (likewise with other less-sporty models), and they’re going to want parts (both specialized and commodity) for their new cars too.  Another point to ponder is that Volvo enthusiasts (i.e. ‘nuts’) are often generational and familial.  Look at my immediate family – last month we had 7 Volvos for four drivers!  As much as you work to encourage customer loyalty with one hand (community involvement, excellent service, custom parts), your other hand (pricing of commodity products) is driving customers away.

So today, if I were to buy, for example, lowering springs, adjustable torque rods, chassis braces, stainless brake lines, custom wheels, or other hard-to-find parts (but not impossible to find!), am I more likely to go to IPD or one of your competitors?  Before, it would have been an easy answer – IPD, of course.  Now, however?  I’m not so sure.

I like IPD, and it would be sad to see them fail after all their years of hard work and business growth, so I’ll wrap it up.   The lesson here is simple: save your high prices for your specialized products that are hard to find elsewhere or can’t be duplicated.  Their high pricing is justified by their limited supply, and the customer is typically left unoffended.  Keep your commodity product prices competitive to keep people from becoming disgruntled.  This is just basic Business 101.

Sincerely,

A once and future Volvo driver

 

Broken Brakes

Last month at the IPD Garage Sale I bought a complete set of vented rotors, calipers, and pads for the front brakes on my 1978 242. After swapping this new equipment onto the car, which badly needed it, I noticed that the brake failure light was coming on. After several bleeding sequences using the Motive Power Bleeder there was no change.  The car was driven for quite a while with a spongy, yet functional brake pedal.  Since the brakes were still working fine, I was convinced that their was still air in the system, and that it would work itself out over time through successive brake bleedings.  Despite several further bleedings, the problem remained.

Two days ago, when I went to bleed the brakes on more time, I noticed that the rear passenger’s caliper had started to leak out of one of the piston seals.  “Ah ha,” I thought, “this must have been the cause all along.”  I ordered a new caliper from a local CarQuest ($44), installed it, and… still got the same spongy brake pedal and brake failure light.  IPD sells their rebuilt calipers – same Ate brand – for $105.50 (less $27.50 core) = $78.00 and YOU have to pay shipping to return the core.

After consultation with some of the gurus on turbobricks, it seemed likely that the brake master cylinder had failed.  I ordered a remanufactured one from local parts supplier Baxter Auto Parts for $45, including core charge.  IPD sells this part for $132.92 (no core charge).  Well, the master cylinder fixed the problem, and I now have a nice firm brake pedal and no brake failure warning light randomly turning on and off.  Hooray!