I am no mechanic. I have successfully changed the oil in my car a few times, but I don’t even attempt that anymore. I take my car to Paul at Paulco in Seattle. Paul is the best mechanic there is in town. But prior to this week, I never really thought before about what parts he installs in my car when he does tune ups, brake jobs and other maintenance. The only reason I thought about it this week was because of a few articles I read that discussed the flood of Chinese car parts that have been reaching our shores recently. I would urge you to read both reports, especially the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) paper. If you are not familiar with EPI, you have been missing out. For almost thirty years, EPI has been focussing on the concerns of working Americans. In their own words, EPI is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank created to “broaden discussions about economic policy to include the needs of low and middle-income workers. EPI believes every working person deserves a good job with fair pay, affordable health care, and retirement security. To achieve this goal, EPI conducts research and analysis on the economic status of working America.”
While EPI urges U.S. government officials to attack the Chinese government’s illicit support of their auto parts industry, I have a simpler approach to the problem: Buy auto parts made by members of your extended American family. Need a muffler? Get a Gibson exhaust system. Coils and springs worn out? Eaton Detroit Spring has the original replacement parts you need. How about worn wheel bearings, wheel hub bearing assemblies, tie rod ends, idler arms, pitman arms, ball joints, brake components, and suspension parts? I have no idea what half of those things are or where they are located on my car, but I want Paul to replace them if they wear out. And if I want American made wheel bearings, tie end rods and especially pitman arms, the only firm to go to is MIBearings LLC located in Traverse City, MI.
From my perspective, getting the Chinese to play fair on trade issues is about as likely to happen as Seattle’s Mayor McGinn being reelected. But I don’t worry about that. I just decide that I am one American who is not going to be buying Chinese Auto parts. And if Paul tells me that MIBearings’s tie end rods, which usually last about 80,000 miles, are 20% more expensive than tie end rods manufactured by some Chinese firm whose name I cannot pronounce, my response will be “Paul, install the MIBearing tie end rods please.” Because it is worth it to me to know that my purchase of tie end rods will be providing employment for a member of our extended American family. And I hope it is worth it to you as well.