Most of the trucks on Australian roads are from Japan, but you’ll spot the occasional Mack or Chevrolet. You might also see Japanese brands sourced from factories in the US, which means their parts differ slightly from Japan-bought cars, and they might have left-hand drive. Keeping your American truck in shape can be a challenge though, because the factories are so far away and truck spare parts may not be as easily available.
Fortunately, you don’t need a visa to repair or modify your American truck. You just need to do some smart shopping, and be on the lookout for American accents when you travel. The advantage of truck routes is you get exposed to far more people than the average 9 to 5 worker, so you’re more likely to bump into a friendly Yank who knows a guy with an American garage. If you’re a fleet manager, ask your drivers to keep their ears and eyes open.
Look for Facebook groups
Social media is the new meeting spot for like-minded individuals, so use it your advantage. You can still use it to ‘spy’ on your teenagers before they tighten their privacy settings. And you can catch up with friends from nursery school, or show off your grandkids. But it’s also a good place to join hobby-based groups.
WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, Telegram channels, Instagram pages, Pinterest pages, and Twitter lists are built around everything from obscure home towns to favourite celebrities and car enthusiasts. Do a quick search for American trucks. There are probably groups for owners and manufacturers. You might even find specific groups for junk yards or truck spares hunters.
Check shopping sites
While scouring the web for bargains can be tricky, it can also be fruitful. You just have to be extra careful. If you’re meeting a seller, do it in a public place with lots of witnesses. Google them if you can, just to get a feel of who they are, and check their social media footprint. Don’t do it in a stalkerish way. Just confirm they’re who they say they are.
Sites where you can buy spares include eBay, Gumtree, Amazon, and Shopify. Ask to inspect the spares in person before you make your purchase. If the seller offers to deliver the item, consider receiving them at a place that isn’t your home, just in case. Office drop-offs are safer, during office hours when there are people around.
Double-check that you can thoroughly check the part and send it back with the delivery guy if it’s not up to par. It’s important to go over this requirement, since some sellers will use a third-party delivery service on the assumption that their terms and conditions don’t have room for returns.
Ask your truck seller
Where did you get your truck in the first place? Whether you bought it off a car lot or had it imported, you probably have a number for the truck office or something. If you didn’t do so when you first bought it, give them a call and find out whether they sell spares, or if they can point you in the direction of somebody that does.
If you can’t get in touch with the seller, talk to the person that looks after your truck. Your regular mechanic should have a good idea of where to get the right parts for your truck, regardless of the truck’s country of origin. Hopefully you trust him / her not to rip you off. You can also talk to other garage customers, especially if they have trucks like yours.
Go to the source
Parts from your original manufacturer can be quite expensive, but truck brands sometimes partner with local aftermarket suppliers. They can advise you on which distribution centre can sell you parts that won’t void your truck warranty. Look for an afterparts supplier that has ten branches or more. This means their stocks are more comprehensive, both in type and volume.
A wider network is helpful because it’s easier to find a branch even on remote parts of your truck route, or you can plan to look in on a branch as you drive by. It also means they’re likely to have a friendly delivery policy and are willing to come to you. When dealing with any aftermarket supplier – whether it’s a store or Twitter sale – inspect the parts to be sure they’re genuine.