Piston Slap: The Parts Vs. Production Fallacy

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the parts vs production fallacy

Mike writes:


I have a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4WD with 69,000 miles on the clock. It has been very well maintained and caused me no problems whatsoever. Hell, I’m still running on the original brakes and my service people tell me there’s no need for a brake job yet! I’ve been very happy with this truck. But, Nissan discontinued the Xterra in August 2015 and I’m wondering if I should sell mine now (because factory-only parts will become harder and harder to get) or keep it.

I want to keep it! But I do not want to face the possibility of having to replace a left-handed thingamabob in the future and no source of supply for it. Your advice and wisdom is greatly appreciated, as always.

Sajeev answers:

Take it from the guy who spends many a lunch hour on eBay hunting for “New Old Stock”, or NOS, parts for his absolutely insane 1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino restoration project: You’ll always find the parts you need. The myth that parts become unavailable when production ends is particularly frustrating to read, as I live the opposite on quite the regular basis.

What’s the myth’s reality? Manufacturers sell and dealers normally stock parts for 10+ years after production. Some dealers will sit on their stash until they go out of business. I recently got an unobtainium driver’s side turn signal lens for my 1988 Mercury Cougar from a Ford dealer in rural Kansas. It just took a phone call from my local dealer and they found it.

So parts will be available, but 10+ years from now you may not ring up your Nissan dealer to get them. Where will you get the parts instead?

  • Generic auto parts stores: Your local Autozone, NAPA, Advance, Pep Boys, etc. will stock or order damn near any mechanical/electrical bit for your ride for several decades. Lest we forget, factory parts are often made by the same companies that sell parts to these places. Nissan doesn’t make everything by themselves! And being in love with Nissan-branded parts isn’t the wisest move, making quality aftermarket parts worthy of your consideration.
  • Online junkyards: Thanks to the power of computers and the Internet, junkyards are filled with easily accessible parts counters across the country. While restoring the LSC, I effortlessly ordered the factory hood, fender and header panel from LKQ, they pulled the right parts from their local inventory (sourced from a deceased, red 1994 Mark VIII) and delivered them to my paint shop within two days.
  • eBay: If you know the part numbers, you’ll find what you need almost instantly. Don’t have a part number? Check the forums or call a dealership. They should oblige if they no longer stock the part.
  • Brand-specific restoration companies: There are tons of them for American marques, but Google “ Datsun parts” and your heart shall be warmed. The future is bright indeed!
  • Other tools: There are third-party websites just waiting to sell you factory parts without the higher price/hassle of eBay or a restoration company.

What if you can’t get the parts with these tools? It’s not very likely for most vehicles, but try every week until you can because it will show up. I must have faith lest my restoration projects fail miserably!

[Image: Shutterstock user 1000s_pixels]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 43 comments
  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Nov 10, 2015

    And some vehicles are still manufactured and sold in other markets after being discontinued in North America. So parts can be imported.

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Nov 13, 2015

    FWIW the round headlights on my 1967 Mustang are the same size and plug pattern as many round headlighted Jeeps. I know that means that I'm not using the correct part with the little "Ford" oval in the center but I'm not looking to be judged in a concurs competition either.

  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?
  • DenverMike What else did anyone think, when GM was losing tens of billions a year, year after year?
  • Bill Wade GM says they're killing Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Any company that makes decisions like that is doomed to die.
  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.