Auto Zone has been around since 1979, and has grown to over 3,600 stores nationwide. For such a short time period, that is quite the growth. Until 1987, Auto Zone was known as Auto Shack, when it changed its name.
Auto Zone was the first in the business to implement a quality control program for their parts.
Auto Zone isn’t just for the everyday layperson when it comes to purchasing parts. They also have a Commercial Division, which deals directly with the local repair facilities and dealers to supply them with parts.
When you walk into an Auto Zone, unfortunately, the shelves aren’t filled to the capacity most would like to see in an auto parts store. Usually what you will find is more accessories than anything. The majority of their “real” auto parts are held out back.
If you happen to need something that is not on the shelf, you will need to ask one of the customer service representatives and they will need to look up the part. Now, if the customer service agent is like most that are employed there, they will most likely not know what it is that you need and will ask all kinds of questions. Unfortunately, those who know about auto parts are working elsewhere, making more money. So the labor pool for a store such as this is slim.
The staff on the consumer end is not that knowledgeable, but the Commercial Division employs higher quality staff who, even though they don’t know how to repair a car, will understand what it is that you are looking for and need. The Commercial Department also offers free delivery to your repair facility, which can save you time and money.
Once you have gotten past the customer service representative at the front desk and he has tried to locate a part for you in the back, it is more likely than not if the part is anything other than brake related or little else, they will not have the part in stock.
Auto Zone does not stock much of anything other than common items for common vehicles. If you happen to need, even sometimes an alternator, they will need to order the part in from another store. This in turn can cost you valuable time when it comes to repairing a car.
Pricing is another issue that the store has to overcome. With all the auto parts stores in the market today, you would think that a store such as Auto Zone would at least try to stay competitive in the market. Many dealers and repair facilities know that the Manufacturers parts are usually more expensive, however compared with Auto Zones prices on some things, you
might as well call the dealer.
But there are times when they are much cheaper, but you have to shop around first. By calling and getting prices from different parts stores, you in turn can keep the competition going and keep prices competitive. For Auto Zone, if you come across the same part for less, they will do their best to match the price you were quoted elsewhere, and sometimes even beat it.
Brake parts are their specialty. Most of the time, this is the place where you are going to find the cheapest brake pads, rotors, drums and shoes. However if you need something else, you might start calling around to check pricing and availability.
If you don’t ask for their cheapest price, you won’t be given it. Sometimes employees will try to pull a fast one on you to boost their sales margins. If you don’t question their prices, you will be taken advantage of. Make sure you ask, don’t just tell them to send it.
One thing that can be said about Auto Zone is their ability to ensure that quality of any part that you receive. They are one up on most auto parts stores when it comes to replacing a faulty part. Usually there are no questions and you are simply given another part to replace it.
Auto Zone has little inventory to offer the auto world. If you need something for you vehicle, make the call to see if it is carried or even in stock to save yourself a trip. If it is a small accessory you need, they most likely have it. But don’t hold your breath if you happen to need rear axle or steering box for your vehicle.