Economics

We’ve tried to price our used ZF 5HP-24A transmissions to be better value than commercially available used transmissions, which sell around $1,300 and typically come with a warranty of a month, sometimes even a few months. From some of the horror stories we’ve read on the Internet, buyers sometimes have an excruciating time getting these warranties honored — and please don’t take our word for it. There’s much such data available.

To be positive, let’s assume you’re diligent or lucky, and you find a basically honest, decent used-parts vendor. On the lower-price end, that’s your basic alternative, as opposed to buying from us.

To be competitive, we price our used unimproved transmissions at $1,300 as well.  However, the classic failures we see are due to

  • Valve body pressure regulator failure
  • Using the wrong fluid

That’s why we insist on including a renewed valve body pressure regulator.  We don’t renew the regulator ourselves; we pay the ZF distributor to do so.  We also used the ZF officially recommended type of fluid, the ZF filter and the ZF pan gasket. We consider that a $500 value which is why we charge $500 more for that, for a total used price of $1800 for the improved transmission.

Our rebuilt units also include these items in the $2700 price.

Other value that we include is more subtle but no less real:

  • A nice buying experience for you
  • Peace of mind for you in years to come

Specifically …

  • You value that we understand and specialize in this type of transmission, and its most typical way of failing, and that we’ve addressed it — including in the fleet of Audi Quattro cars that we own and drive, from which you get to choose the transmission you buy, after test-driving the car personally, if you so choose.
  • You value that we’re fanatic about working closely with the ZF distributor, and that we use the ZF-recommended parts and fluid. You like that the pressure regulator renewal on your transmission is done by the official ZF distributor.
  • You value that we respect leaving well enough alone, not disturbing components that might well be just fine, so that as much as reasonably possible, we want the last person who touched the great many complex items inside the transmission that you buy to have been a formally trained, skilled ZF factory-worker employee.
  • You value that we respect ZF, and that we go to great lengths to do the work the right way, including understanding the different variations and being precise about not combining things that should be kept separate.
  • You value that we personally cherish, own and drive Audi Quattros with this type of transmission.
  • You value that we’re meticulous and precise.
  • You value that we communicate well with you, interpersonally.
  • You value that we don’t see your objective as just buying a transmission, but rather to have a nice ownership experience, to which the purchase of a transmission is simply the means to that end.
  • You like that we offer installation, so that you’re not stuck in the middle between a mechanic who claims the supplier messed up, and a supplier who claims the mechanic messed up.

… but even so, we are indeed not your only option.

Imagine that you were to place the various suppliers of your replacement transmission on a spectrum as to understanding and respecting the engineering that ZF put into these transmissions — and that this respect has implications as to work ethic, and subsequent quality. How could it not?

It’s probably safe to say that, with the exception of ZF itself, we’re likely to be at the extreme end of that spectrum.

On the other end of the spectrum are those whom we parody in the next paragraph, hopefully also in the process proving that German-raised people can have a sense of humor. Most of us at my shop have several decades’ worth of experience in the automotive field, and we have sometimes reluctantly dealt with this mindset in the past, folks whose mindset is best exemplified by them muttering things like:

“German engineers are all stupid. I hate them all. They unnecessarily complicate things. ZF slushboxes are finicky crap especially. They’re fragile and they break all the time. Throw them out and put in a good stick-shift, I would. But, hey Mr. rich man, if you’re dumb enough to drive one of these uppity snobmobiles then sure, we’ll take your money and sell you a ZF 5HP-24A. Nah, I don’t need your VIN or model; they’re all the same anyhow, and believe me, this one we have for you ran just great right before we pulled it out of a car so I’m sure it’ll just keep on running fine for years ‘n years. Me, personally, I prefer me some good ol’ Detroit iron with a solid transmission the way a transmission should be: Simple — nice and simple, the kind of thing .you use a pry-bar to dismantle.”

[And no, we’re not making this up … though the above dialog is a contrived composite of multiple people].

Sometimes we hypothesize that the relevant shops have a culture that includes profanity screamed in anger at inanimate objects, and wrenches being flung in anger across the workshop … and too often, when out of morbid curiosity we have a private conversation with one of their mechanics (or former mechanics) then these hypotheses are confirmed.

We see way too much of that attitude in the used parts business, competitors who disrespect complexity that they don’t bother to try to understand.

Even so, such competitors might well, for the brief span of time they’re talking to you or emailing you, succeed in hiding their opinion of you, your car and its type of transmission.

From whom would you rather buy your used or replacement ZF transmission — someone who respects your choices or someone who disrespects them?

Advertisements