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Buying parts online

Lynn Jaynes Published on 28 March 2015

One of my former farm-wife duties was to be the parts runner from the local dealership, and I hated it.

Me: My husband sent me to pick up a drive head for the mower.

Parts person: What year?

Me: Are you kidding me?

Parts person: Do you need the drive head or the drive head bushing?

Me: Are you kidding me?

Parts person: (showing me pictures in the book – he’s going to start spelling the big words any minute now) Does it look like this, or this?

Me: (with no patience whatsoever)Are you kidding me?

(Insert mutual dirty looks here.)

Then I’d stand around with five fussy kids, out of quarters for the stale peanut vending machine, trying to keep the kids from jumping off the display lawnmowers as the parts guy interpreted changed part numbers, serial numbers, engine numbers, computed the gross national product of three countries and balanced the federal budget.

There had to be a better way. Is that better way by ordering parts online? I decided to find out. I approached my unofficial research two ways: I posted a poll on our website and then also posed the question on a couple of online ag forums.

On the website poll: 8 percent said they would probably not buy equipment parts online during this lifetime; 3 percent said they had bought parts online but regretted it; 8 percent said they would consider buying online but hadn’t found the right part yet; 80 percent said they had bought parts online and it was a whale of a deal.

But the online forum results – yes, it’s ironic to ask people who are online to determine online parts ordering activity; it probably skewed the outcome, but I did say “unofficial” – were very enlightening. Here are a few replies (with mild editing):

“A month ago, I tried to look up the part number for a Hi/Lo gear shift cable for my tractor. I looked for 40 minutes and found the picture of what I thought looked like the cable. I didn’t think a cable would be that different on different machines.

I wrote down the part number and took it into the dealer. The guy looked up our tractor on the system and put in the part number I had. Nothing came up. Well, it turns out that it isn’t so simple to find the right parts on newer tractors since there are so many different versions and with different options for the worldwide market.”

“As long as you do your homework, it will usually go well. We have bought lots of parts online because we live at least 90 minutes/miles away from the nearest dealer. The trick is that you’ll have to know exactly what you need, though several places online are knowledgeable and can help you figure it out.”

“We were always willing to pay a bit more to buy local. When you are in a major jam and need something fast, the local dealer remembers if you are a good customer.

We’ve had equipment go down during harvest, and our dealer sent one of their guys to another dealership a long ways away who had the part in stock, then delivered it to the farm all in the same afternoon. Don’t think the Internet stores are going to do that for you any time soon.”

“I prefer to go to the dealer and talk with someone face-to-face. Usually, I lay a part on the counter wrapped in oily rags and say – I need one of these.”

This is my official conclusion: Never send your wife to town for equipment parts; either go to the dealership in person or get online and screw it up yourself.  FG

Lynn Jaynes
  • Lynn Jaynes
  • Editor
  • Progressive Forage Grower