Auto Repair #19:
Global Environmental Laws Limit Spare Parts Availability
How can environmental regulations in Europe possibly affect whether or not you can keep your older model BMW or Mercedes running? Why are you having a difficult time finding parts "Made in Germany" or "Made in Sweden" (or wherever your car was produced)?
The answer is quite simple. The original parts manufacturers located in Germany, Sweden or other European countries must comply with local and regional regulations. Since most of the EU countries have adopted more stringent pollution and safety regulations for cars, the governments have made it a priority to remove older autos from their roads. Rather than outright bans on the cars, they have gone after parts manufacturers and suppliers to eliminate the critical parts needed to keep these vehicles running.
Initially, most of the European OE manufacturers moved manufacturing to eastern European countries, such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, where there were no such rules. But as these countries have had their own internal problems and made attempts to join the EU, these options became more expensive or non-existent. So the manufacturers went further east and to the south, into Asia and Africa.
Hence, it's not uncommon for a German manufacturer's packaging to have a "Made in China" or "Made in South Africa" label affixed to the outside. As a matter of fact, it's gotten to be the norm and the older the models that the part fits, the more likely the part must be manufactured outside of Europe. There are, of course, a few exceptions still in the market but at extremely high premiums - in some cases priced above factory list prices.
In the case of air-cooled VW, for example, the predominant manufacturing is now done in Mexico and South America. These areas continued to sell these models on showroom floors for some twenty years after they were discontinued in the United States due to failure to meet emission standards. But even as popular as the VW Bug was worldwide, parts to keep them running are getting more and more difficult to obtain consistently as time goes on.
The most common thread throughout many European model cars is Bosch fuel and control systems. Drivers of Bosch D-Jetronic, K-Jetronic, or KE-Jetronic fuel injection models should stock up now because most of the associated spare parts on these systems are being taken out of production as factory stock runs out. Even large Bosch warehouse distributors like AutohausAZ have lost the ability to buy hundreds of these system part numbers over the past two years. Bosch is by no means the only company experiencing this but it's by far the most prevalent in European model cars.
So, as Europe cleans up their roadways by modernizing the vehicles being driven on them, the U.S. will also be forced to do the same. We at AutohausAZ will continue to search for all available parts from European manufacturers but please keep these limitations in mind. We believe in your right to continue driving your vehicle of choice and will continue to search out hard-to-find parts so we can have your parts available for as long as possible.