Shelf Life — Tales from the ePartsLand stockroom

Sometimes you can't save them all....

posted 2012 Jun by Erica Jacobson — 1 comments

I've spent hours trudging along behind Jeff and Paul as they harvest junkyards. While they're digging through cars for the bits and bobs to help keep our and our customers' cars going, I usually stop and sit in a Volvo wagon here or crawl through the hatch of a locked Saab c900 to pay my respects. 

And sometimes, as we're walking along, we find the same model car that lives in our own herd. The guys see it as a bonanza and set to work plucking such critical items as ECUs, shifter surrounds, headlight switches and that damn chrome trim piece that runs along the top of an Audi 200 avant grille that always flies off and leaves the car looking rougher that it actually is. 

I understand their enthusiasm, but I do more of a pause. This is what my car will look like when it's dead. This is how easily the plastic interior panels will crack and yield to reveal the ECU, that's how the leather will look when rain and mold have taken over. This is how elderly it will appear when someone has taken the headlights from their sockets or how just excising the speedo cluster from the dash is like erasing its memory. All those miles driven? Gone, even more so now that most cars count them electronically. 

So, as the guys find the story of why the car has come to rest in the yard in the engine compartment, I leaf through left behind manuals with first owner's names carefully written in and service interval pages stamped. Someone, somewhere, sometime drove this broken shell off a lot new. Maybe they had trouble finding the headlight switch the first time or marveled at the weather band button on the radio or the two-tone horn switch. It's possible they even chuckled at how the salesman explained the use of the now highly mysterious button with a highway bridge overpass depicted on it.

This week, a car one of our friends had modded and driven like it was stolen took its final trip. Oh Enduro, you mysterious three-door Saab NG900 with a blow off valve providing an exhaust-fueled exclamation point every fall when we gathered to romp along NEPA's winding roads. You were never ashamed to leave the house partially dressed - front bumpers are for pussies - and rightfully so since deeper than they seemed puddles shattered at least one prized Viggen part. You ferried me to parts stores when my own car needed a belt transplant and, a year later, to a wedding, serving as a rolling dressing room and hair salon. And, later that night, your sport suspension pulverized my bladder to the point where behind the dumpster of a shuttered Cumberland Farms was as good a place of any to hitch up my party dress.

Years of life in central New York and the desire to drive something a little more modern came to an end at a Virginia junk yard with it being rolled like a ball of play dough. But let's not linger on those terrible last moments of Swedish steel being turned to scrap and go for one last ride.

Godspeed, Enduro, godspeed.


We also sell on ebay, but you should buy it here and save some money!

posted 2012 Jun by Jeff Henderson — 0 comments

Any items you find listed here that are also listed on ebay, you should buy here!  Why?  Because it costs us significantly less to sell an item on our website than it does on ebay.  We price items on our website to pass the savings onto our customers.  If you find an item of ours listed on ebay, check our website & compare pricing.  You will find most items at a significant discount over the ebay price!  Why pay more?  Buy directly from us on and save yourself up to 30% over the ebay price!   

Save even more, Enter the discount code "ebay discount" at checkout and get another 10% off the price !!! - Limited time offer.

My Mechanic says I need a new ECU, New price is $1300, you have it for $199.99 - how do you do it?

posted 2011 Oct by Jeff Henderson — 0 comments

Simple.  Our control units come from lower mileage crash-damaged vehicles.  These units we can acquire for very reasonable price, and can pass the savings onto our customers.  Most ECU ECU PCM's you buy from us, are original OEM quality units, that are used functional units, that in most cases will last the remainder of the life of the vehicle they are destined to be installed into.  The main difference you may find between this $1300 control unit, and our $199 control unit?  Basically, it's just the price.  You will get a good functional component either way,  you just keep more (much more!) of your hard earned money.

Want to save even more?  Enter the "SWITCH&SAVE" discount code at checkout, and you will save even more!  Keep your car going, and don't spend more than you have to!

ECU's What's in em, why so expensive?

posted 2010 Feb by Jeff Henderson — 0 comments

The average Joe may find the ECU boring. To US, it’s interesting! We offer good used guaranteed units for sale to the customer at a very very high value for dollar, often times saving customers 900% over the new part price. Firstly, Every ECU (Electronic control unit) for every make, model & trim level car is different. Many times, there are even many different units for the same exact year and make car depending on where in the world it was sold, what emission system equipment it came with, what transmission it has, what assembly line it was produced on, etc. The part number MUST match your original part number for the ECU to work correctly. There are some exceptions to this but this is generally the rule.

The ECU, also known as an PCM, ECM, DME, or simply “control unit” is a complex microprocessor electronic control device. These units cost manufacturers hundreds of dollars per vehicle, with initial production costs in the millions of dollars! This is why these often times cost several thousand dollars for a new replacement ECM from the manufacturers. Even though there may be only a few hundreds of dollars worth of components, they are trying to differ their initial investment. If the ECM you are looking for is for a low production vehicle these costs can skyrocket and the difficulty of finding a correct unit for your car from anyone but the manufacturer rises dramatically.

Why would they go wrong? There are many cars that will last their entire lifespan with their original ECU and never have a hiccup. Other cars have a near 100% failure rate by the time they are 15 years old. The 1989 Saab 900 models come to mind. Most are somewhere in the middle. Many times the initial ECU design is flawed and a manufacturer comes up with a revised unit that has a significantly better lifespan. Other times an individual situation such as a solder joint that was never as good as it should have been from new, fails once it hits a certain age. Sometimes internal corrosion is the issue… Other times wiring faults such such as a short circuit or a bad alternator can cause a failure. Also, The ECU’s internal “ROM” does not have an indefinite lifespan either. Typically ROM can store data (such as a cars fuel maps) 100% reliably for approximately 30 years. Occasionally, and possibly by external factors such as heating and cooling cycles, this can potentially be dramatically reduced. Other times, there are no identifiable reasons as to why a failure has occurred, it “just happened”

What does it do? Quite simply the ECU is the brain of the car. Everything related to the engine control, and sometimes more is done here. The ECU has data stored in it’s ROM (Read only memory) system which the ECU’s internal CPU (central processor unit) uses to calculate the amount of fuel to inject based on sensor inputs. The CPU is where the data is processed. The ECU’s CPU uses the sensor inputs and the data stored in the ROM, to calculate the amount of fuel to inject turn on the fuel pump, run the emissions equipment, and all other external devices connected to it. This makes it quite clear why this device is so critical.

Also, on many newer cars (typically 2005 and newer), these ECU’s are “married” to the original car they were installed in at the factory. The reason for this is increased theft deterrence, to deter after-sales, and to decrease the likely hood of the wrong ECU being installed into the wrong car. While this does deter after-sales, it does not prevent it! As long as the vehicular VIN is provided along with the used ECU for which is it programed, it can be re-programed to work in ANY car – provided the part numbers match. We offer full VIN programing on all SAAB ECU’s that require it. Dealerships also have this capability as well, but sometimes require a bit of arm twisting to get them to do this for you, as they would rather you to buy a NEW ECU from them… at probably 10X the price. A simple VIN-program will only get them about 1/2 hour labor from a customer. In time ePartsland hoped to be able to offer more VIM programing so you can avoid this trip to the dealer with newer cars.

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The EPL Warehouse, um, Orphanage

posted 2009 Nov by Erica Jacobson — 0 comments

Every now and then, we stumble across things in the old EPL inventory that defy recognition.

Sometimes Jeff just plain forgot what kind of car from whence he plucked them. Other times, they’ve been on the shelf longer and, well, that doesn’t help kickstart the collective EPL memories any better. They stump all kinds of research, Googling and even the occasional call to a dealership parts desk.

They’re our orphans, the auto part equivalent of Jane and John Does.

There’s this Mercedes Kraftstoffpumpe

or this Nissan transmission computer unit.

Try as we might, we just can’t find them a home in the right model category. And, short of putting their photos on the backs of milk cartons, we may never know their true identity. If you do, drop us a line here and help us put some of these unsolved mysteries to rest.

P.S. There’s one more week to take advantage of our November discount code. Just enter “THANKS” at checkout and get 11 percent off your order only here at our store through Nov. 30.

Pick of the litter — Smoke signals

posted 2009 Nov by Erica Jacobson — 0 comments

I came home from the hospital in a 1972 Mercedes 180D back in the days when a mother’s arms, not infant seats built to withstand atomic blasts, were good enough for hospital nurses handing over newborns.

For the next five years or so, that car was chariot and cradle. My grandparents idled it in the driveway until I woke up from the nap I had started during their daily drives. I probably logged at least 25,000 miles strapped into a carseat with Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and other assorted Midwestern states passing along to my left and those fantastic peaked headrests straight ahead. And one of my earliest memories is when two guys showed up in the driveway on a cold fall night and drove away in MY car. I never saw it again or had its magnificent marble factory lull me to sleep.

My parents dabbled in U.S. diesels next, picking up first a white 1978 Oldsmobile 88 that smoked only slightly less than a 1930s Hollywood starlet and balked at turning over on the coldest mornings the Chicago region threw at it. Combine that with my father’s tendency to oversleep and it’s no wonder I completely failed to learn my morning prayers at school. A 1980 Olds Cutlass followed but both cars proved to have the worst Detroit Diesels engines one could buy at the time and they departed with little fanfare after multiple failures tested my parents’ patience and wallets. When my aunt’s diesel VW Rabbit was retired, an era ended in our family. We were officially gassers.

So my point, and I do have one, is that this li’l BMW 524td ECU from the mid-‘80s that we’ve got for sale holds a special place in my heart.

Turns out a lot of folks still love these cars, too. YouTube has a bunch of clips of folks drifting their 524tds through forested twisties. Not a lot came to the United States, but a few of them are still out there burbling away and can be found on Craigslist for anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand bucks. I revisited diesels for about a year in the mid-‘00s with a TDi New Beetle — shoulda held out for a Jetta wagon, honestly. But the sound of a diesel idling still brings a smile to my face and a ride in one through, say, a Midwestern state still makes me a li’l sleepy.

Got your own memories of dabbling with diesel? Drop us a line and we’ll post ’em up!

P.S. Don’t want to miss a single blog? Visit this page and scroll to the bottom to subscribe to our blog feed and get e-mails when we tell you about all the latest parts, discounts and crazy stuff we find along the way. And don’t forget our 11 percent discount off orders at during the month of November by entering THANKS! during checkout.

Pick of the litter - Touch me in the morning

posted 2009 Nov by Erica Jacobson — 1 comments

Finally, when it seemed that the guys could bring me nothing but silver Bosch ECUs to list here at the store, they’ve brought me something really, really intriguing…

Now, I know it doesn’t look like much pulled from the dash of an Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo, but this VIC – Visual Information Center – was pretty much the closest to Kit from “Knight Rider” you could get in an Oldsmobile in the late ‘80s. And man, was it ever chatty! “Engine overheating – Decrease engine speed.” “Climate control problem – AC overheated, compressor disengaged.” I mean, it’s amazing more Trofeo’s haven’t ended up deceased due to driver inattention to the road.

Still, there’s something neat about a car that wants to tell you all of its secrets, its wishes, its desires as well as give you a calendar and a neat-looking radio display. It almost makes me want to find a used…nah, it’s cool, but not that cool. We’ll let one of you snap this puppy up.

A VIC (not ours)in action

P.S. Don’t forget about our November 11% discount, only good here at our store. Just type “THANKS!” at checkout. Also, check us out on Facebook and click to subscribe to our blog feed to find out the lastest about what’s new at the store and more.

P.P.S. For some real Trofeo yuks, check out these YouTube commercials. Roger Moore Harry Belafonte

Minivan memories

posted 2009 Nov by Erica Jacobson — 0 comments

Erica: Hey chief, what’s up with all of these truck and Jeep and minivan ECUs I’ve been listing lately?
Jeff: Well we have gotten a few requests recently. Since it’s another one of those “common failure” items that the dealers charge way too much for, we can get them cheaper used, and we can pass the savings on to our customers!
Erica: What kind of vehicles have you been poking around in?
Jeff: Just about anything manufactured by the Chrysler Corp. — Jeeps, Dodge trucks, Dodge vans and Mitsubishi-manufactured, chrysler-branded cars.
Erica: When you say vans, do you mean minivans?
Jeff: Yep, minivans — and their expensive failure-prone Body Control Moduels – as well as full-size vans commonly equiped with the 3.9 liter V6, 5.2 Liter V8 and the 5.9 Liter V8’s.
Erica: You know, I know you don’t think we have a lot in common, but it turns out we’ve both spent time behind the wheel of some pretty rad minivans, no? I’m partial to a circa 1990 white Town and Country with wood paneling my mom nicknamed “Vanna White.” It was like driving a living room.

Jeff: Funny you should ask, one of the recent “pulls” was from a car model I used to own, a 1989 Dodge Caravan Turbo, 2.5 Liter Automatic.
Erica: I’m not even going to ask what your top speed was in that vehicle.
Jeff: Transmission limited – it was only a three-speed auto.
Erica: Yeah, but the best part about driving minivans was that the cops rarely gave you a second look. That was handy when I was zooming around past curfew. So, have you noticed anything different about the store lately?
Jeff: No, you?
Erica: Oh, chief….We’ve now got more than 900 items listed. And, once our customers click on their favorite make, they can search by model by clicking on links in the orange field at the top of each page. It’s the best way to find that much needed bit, say an ECU or idle control valve, as well as a bunch of neat extras like switches and cup and change holders to help make your car complete. You’ve got to admit that’s neat. And, we’ve got a page up and running on Facebook. There, our customers can find all the latest ePartsLand new. Oh, and to get this month’s 11% discount on all merchandise, enter THANKS! at the checkout now through Nov. 30. Pretty neat, eh?
Jeff: Yes indeed!

Merchandise, bad brains and pumpkin pie

posted 2009 Feb by Erica Jacobson — 0 comments

Erica: Hey chief! Notice anything different about the site today?

Jeff: No, you?

Erica: Hmm…It seems something has changed. Maybe you should take another look….

Jeff: Huu, just looked, it looks the same to me?

Erica: Jeff!!!

Jeff: Oh, wait I see it. I had to click a different link. I had to click “catalog”

Erica: What did you find?

Jeff: Well it looks like we have a few new items listed that we used to only have exclusivly on eBay.

Erica: “A few new items”? Just a few, Jeff? Try 800 or so.

Jeff: Wow, how did we do that?

Erica: While you and Paul were off searching for more merchandise today, I was back at the ePartsLand ranch posting merchandise to the site. You can find all of ePartsLand’s amazing stuff on our own store now, too! And I even managed to cook dinner, too. Amazing, I know.

Jeff: How do you do it?

Erica: I’m just that amazing. And, for folks visiting the site, we’ve got a discount to celebrate, and, well, to make more work for you and Paul.Through the end of Oct. 31, customers who enter the discount code BADBRAINS during checkout can get 10 percent off their order. And, having posted more than 800 items today, I know we’ve got a pretty good stock of ECUs, switches, relays and a bunch of other stuff to keep your favorite car on the road. Speaking of bad brains…what’s so important about having a spare ECU around?

Jeff: Well, funny you should ask. In some “high failure rate” cars, such as any car with a Bosch, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, or Bendix ECU, it’s about as important as having a spare tire on board! Though unlike a spare tire, a defective ECU can leave you stranded with a $500 diagnostic fee, plus a $1,500+ bill for a NEW replacement unit. For example – Cars with Bosch ECUs usually won’t start or start and stall. Sometimes they will run but have no power. Sometimes they will work intermittantly. Idle control circuits can go defective, which will cause a stuck slow or fast idle speed. Sometimes the fuel pump turn-on circuit will die, which can cause a no-start due to no fuel pump function. But, if jumpered, the car will run. Also, potential lean running, or very rich running causing excess smoke or pinging are possible. None of these symptoms are necessarily ALWAYS caused by a faulty ECU, but they are some of the typical possible causes.

Erica: So, it’s a good thing to have in the trunk? Maybe the glove box if it’ll fit?

Jeff: Yes! Even if you own a car that does not have a high failure rate ECU, they are still good to have due to the expense of getting a correct replacement unit. And the savings are clear if you already need an ECU for your car due to a failure. Price one new and you will buy from us. And, remember, the easiest way for our customers to find the exact part they need is to compare the part number from their original to the ones we have in inventory. They can be sure to get the right unit that way! And our customers can be assured of quality. even though our units are used, they are guranteed functional on arrival and offer a 30 day replacement warranty!

Erica: OK, now for the really important question….What’s a girl got to do around here to get a slice of pumpkin pie?

Jeff: Ya gotts-a walk into the kitchen & get it. Bring one for me, eh?

Erica: Oh Jeff….

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Shelf Life - Tales from the ePartsLand Stockroom

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