Tuesday, April 6, 2021

What is a Core Charge?

I was shopping online for parts for my car this week, and underneath the price of the part was a "core charge" price. My brake calipers were only going to cost me $62 per side, so what was this other $60 tacked on to each of them? If you didn't know any better, it would feel like some serious dirty pool, but core charges are a legitimate thing, for a very good reason.

So what is a core charge? In essence, a core charge is a deposit you pay a parts supplier which gets refunded when you bring back a rebuildable core part. In my case of buying brake calipers, I would pay an extra $60 for each caliper until I brought the old ones from my car into the parts house, in which case my deposit gets refunded and they send the core off to be rebuilt and resold. It serves to keep remanufactured parts in the system, allowing for far less expensive auto repairs. Using my truck as an example (I can't use the car mentioned above, because new-manufactured brake components aren't readily available), buying a brand new rear left caliper starts at $61. A remanufactured caliper is right around $30. Half price is a pretty hefty savings in parts. "Reman" parts usually come with a warranty, although it may not be for as long a term as a new part, and are regarded as being of perfectly acceptable quality for general use.

The less-obvious thing that a core charge tells you is that a part can be rebuilt, which means that the components needed to bring the part back to function are likely available on the open market. Let's keep running with the example of brake calipers for my truck: $30 is a pretty healthy savings over $60, obviously, but what if you could do them for under $5? A rear brake caliper rebuild kit for my 2001 Silverado goes for just over $3, but this steep price savings comes at the cost of needing to read a shop manual or find other instruction on how to do the rebuild and takes more time than just swapping the caliper itself -- but doing the whole job for under $10 instead of $120 or more can easily justify some education and time.

In this instance, I'm buying the calipers because I'm up against a deadline and don't have the time to do the rebuild, but if it wasn't for that time crunch I'd be all over rebuilding. Most component rebuilds are fairly simple, consisting of replacing rubber seals and other wear components. Read the manual twice, pay attention to detail and take your time, and you can keep your vehicles running for far lower costs.


1 comment:

  1. While I don't mind doing my own vehicle maintenance, my time is more valuable than the savings of buying a caliper rebuild kit and doing it myself. The other advantage is warranty replacement if it turns out defective. Otherwise I am buying another rebuild kit and doing thr job again.


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