The Web is a worldwide resource for the parts counter

Dave Koshollek
Publish Date: 
Feb 13, 2012
By Dave Koshollek

JUST THE OTHER DAY I was down at my local Napa Auto Parts store shopping for an inner primary bearing for my ’66 Shovelhead.

There, a 20-something associate came to a dead end when he couldn’t locate the new bearing in his Napa catalog by using the numbers on the old bearing. He asked his 50-something co-worker for help. The older guy typed the bearing numbers into the Google search bar. Ultimately, we found the bearing I needed.

This experience reminded me that there’s a wealth of technology at our fingertips, and age should not preclude any of us from making full use of it.

For example, many manufacturers have an online accessory catalog on their website. A little surfing on my part identified several online catalogs where you can search for accessories by brand, year and model. This was true on the Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha websites. Even Arlen Ness offers a search function of his product line by brand, model and year.

This can be a huge timesaver at the counter, versus foraging through hundreds of pages in a worn-out paper catalog and then having to read the small print to determine if the product you’re looking at fits the make and model the customer owns. The filtering mechanism built into the search function does all that work for you.

A number of support documents can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s websites, too: Owner’s manuals, service manuals, parts and service bulletins and accessory installation sheets, just to name a few. The next time a service adviser needs to impress upon the customer the importance of proper engine break-in or vehicle loading as it applies to the gross vehicle weight rating, why not print the page or pages from the owner’s manual? It will reinforce the points being made and provide something for the customer to review when they leave the store.

PDFs 'n stuff. Regarding downloads — many are available in the Adobe PDF format. With most PDFs you can locate what you’re looking for by typing in a search word.

For example, Harley-Davidson's dealer-only website has a service operations manual for its dealer network. The good thing is that it answers just about every question a service adviser or manager might have. The bad thing is it’s more than 220 pages long. While it’s nice to have a printed copy, it’s much quicker to find what you’re looking for using Adobe’s search function.