Lesson Learned

There is so much on the Mustang forums here in the UK about prices of parts for our beloved Mustangs. It’s a well known fact that the cost of living has gone insane amounts, partly due to the Covid pandemic over the last couple of years. There have been shortages of materials, that then means shortage of parts which ultimately leads to supply and demand shortages.

Fact: costs of freight have quadrupled from the USA to the UK. I can state that as I have seen the import duty charged for the last couple of months compared to what they were two years ago to Mustang Maniac. Will the costs go down again? I very much doubt it, so the whole economy suffers in one way or another. Indeed Adam (from Mustang Maniac) had even predicted this a while ago on their blog too.

So where am I going with this? Companies are now careful about what they buy and what they keep in stock, sometimes ordering the parts once they have been paid. I have even heard it said that ‘Stock that sits on the shelf isn’t paying the bills’. I usually ask Mustang Maniac to get me the odd bits and pieces from the USA which he does for me without a problem. To save him the bother this time as I know how busy he gets, I thought I would have a go myself. Here is the story of how it went for me.

I saw a picture of a rather nice PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) valve on an engine that was built ready to be put back into their project car and yes it was a Mustang. This part was required as part of legislation by California state I believe to clean the pollution up. The part is to basically allow a controlled air leak back to the carb to reburn any dirty emissions from the ‘blow by’ of the pistons back into the combustion cycle.

It took me a little while to find where they were being sold, eventually I found it at Summit Racing. I liked the look of the polished aluminum tower with a right angle outlet, something a little different here in the UK, that’s all it was – pure cosmetics.

As it was on another Mustang small block engine, it was treat time for Mart. So I added the part to the basket. The part was $27.50 which worked out to £21.93 this side of the pond.

First thing to hit me was the “Shipping Costs” at $30.63 or £24.42 in the UK.

This is is more than the cost of the part in the first place. Heart was ruling head at this point as I ordered it at a total of $58.13 or £46.35 in UK. That is a lot of money around ten times the price for a standard PCV valve at $4 or so. This was going to be a luxury part.

The part was ordered on Friday 5th May 2022 when I was given a link to a tracking page.

It took nine days to get to the export facility. The part eventually arrived at the UK distribution on Tuesday 24th May 2022, within ten hours of it landing in the UK it was delivered. The six days between 18th to the 24th I assume it was in a row boat heading across the pond to our little ol’ island.

For $30 I expected the part to be flown over by a beautiful Golden Eagle with my part clutched in it’s talons. No need to comment on the postage times as they a plain to see. The 24hr service from Parcel Force in the UK was impressive – but it comes at a cost of course.

The part was in my hand early afternoon and I couldn’t wait to get to the car after work with a little tinkering to be done. The first thing I did was to compare the parts, with the old valve on top, the new one underneath. Diameter of the fitting was correct at 3/4″ fitting to valve cover grommet.

On a side note, the quality of the part wasn’t great, it was marked and tarnished on the surface, you can clearly see it in the picture. I have no doubt I could buff it and polish it up, but why should I have too?

Then I checked the underside for the ventilation hole which was significantly smaller. The new one on the right, the old on the left.

Before I dismantled the old setup, I had already built the new one with a piece of spare vacuum hose ready to be a direct replacement to the original which I know is was working fine. The spring in the new valve was also much stronger than the current one. A little press of the inner plate with a small screw driver confirmed that.

I fired the car up and allowed it to warm up properly. To swap them over it was a simple case to pull out the old valve from the top of the rocker cover and the other end pulls of the vacuum input on the base of the carb. Then I quickly swap them over, literally five seconds or so. I checked the valve was fine by placing my thumb over the bottom and it sucked my thumb to form a seal just as I expect it to before pushing it into the grommet on top of the valve cover.

With the new setup pipe fully in place the car started to cough and splutter with a significant drop to the idle revs. When I selected a drive gear the engine tried it’s best to hang on, but it stalled out. I started the car up again and I had to throttle the gas to keep the engine alive. To keep the engine alive on its own I had to turn the idle adjustment screw up by well over a turn and a half, which is a lot to keep the engine from stalling out. The car didn’t seem to happy with that, I wasn’t happy to make that much adjustment either.

I was disappointed with the product and the results from it, so I swapped the old one back in and reversed the changes I had just made – all was good again.

What valuable lesson have I learned?

The PCV valves are different and will effect on the running of the engine as expected. But, how the valve and current settings are now are fine. To make this part work, I would have to mess with mixtures and idle to which is not good, I was hoping for a straight swap which it should be.

The point to make is that I now have a part in the UK which won’t really work on my car. I could send it back. Lets just say it cost me another $30 to get back to the USA. Then I would have to wait for Summit to reimbursed the cost of the part and not the shipping I paid to send it back. That would mean that I would have spent $60 on shipping with a new total of around $90, just to get my £22 back. That means I would have lost £50 or so on shipping. It’s just not worth it.

However, if I had of purchased the part from the UK, I could have returned it and got a refund with just a fraction of the shipping costs as the part is incompatible or so it seems. My head told me no at the time, and my head was right.

People in the UK are quick to moan (a lot in fact), at the costs of UK shipping and the costs of the parts. The UK supplier would have to put their shipping costs and taxes on the part, along with their business mark-up which is constantly under a squeeze now days. So lets say that part now cost £60 + £5 shipping; I could have returned it and I could have of gotten my money back if it was the wrong part sent to me. But, as it wasn’t the wrong part, it was the part I had ordered, so technically they are under no obligation to take it back unless it’s faulty or mis-sold.

The moral of the story is yes, you can get it cheaper from the USA, pay the shipping, pay the import costs, taxes and whatever anybody else tries to rip you of for. Then you have to wait unless you pay a premium for the postage to get to you in a reasonable amount of time. What if it’s faulty or the wrong part? The decision is yours at the end of the day send it back, or keep it depending on the original amount of money for the part I guess. I’m not on any retainer for this post from anybody – it’s my own findings. I may have another crack at this part later on once I have spoken to the experts at Mustang Maniac for guidance. I like to think that I’m supporting local business who do all the hard work and store these parts until I want them. when you know what’s involved and what could go wrong, the costs aren’t that bad.

I’m not even sure if this will be helpful to anybody to be honest – I just wanted to get it of my chest.

Please let me know what you think or have any points to add.

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7 thoughts on “Lesson Learned

  1. Nothing else for it, you‘ll have to save up, go on holiday to America and bring back your parts in your own suitcase voilà. I have stopped ordering what appears like good clothes bargains online from America for the same reason shipping costs back if they aren‘t good quality or good fit.

  2. Stupid crazy madness indeed. And surely Brexit has simply added to these woes. Sob, thanks Boris!

  3. What an ordeal. Good post and a depressing sign of the times we live in — a lesson for all of us. Great line here: ‘For $30 I expected the part to be flown over by a beautiful Golden Eagle with my part clutched in it’s talons.’

  4. There’s another moral to the story: If California requires it, it can’t be good for performance. Their standards are beyond ridiculous; without getting into their politics.

    1. Agreed. One of the first things that happens is the smog control comes of over here in the UK. Politics always causes an argument so u tend to steer clear. Over here the Politics is a joke, they are called different party names but they are ALL in it for themselves and all do the same thing, screw everybody over.

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