It’s All In the Description

Mar 1, 2023 | Industry, Processes

Part grading and descriptions matter for proper inventory management.

By Theresa Colbert

Make sure that your part’s physical condition matches what is indicated in your inventory management system, so that your customer knows exactly what they are getting when they buy from you!

It’s important that we inventory our parts with the correct part types and use the latest Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) part grading standards. However, a lot of yards don’t know where to find these standards, or how they are going to put them into the marketplace correctly.

Where is our marketplace?

Other Recyclers …… Inventory Systems

Insurance Companies …… Estimating Systems

Body & Repair Shops …… Parts Locating Software

General Public …… eBay/Facebook/Craigslist

For those of you who are Car-Part customers, if any of you are putting your parts out into these marketplaces, you may want to look at your Part Grading Inconsistency Report provided to all Car-Part Gold customers. This report will help you find inconsistencies between your ARA damage codes and objectionable words in your part descriptions. If you need help finding this report, give your Car-Part tech a call and they can provide the link.

Ever wonder where the parts grading on Car-Part and in your yard management system comes from?

The ARA has developed part grading standards for the industry. For mechanical parts, ARA also has a formula that uses the model year and mileage to calculate the ARA grade. For body parts, there are ARA damage codes, which describe the location, type, and size of the damage. You can get a copy of these from the website ( or from the ARA website (

When I look at a yard’s Part Grading Inconsistency Report and I look at the “objectionable word list,” I find that the most common error is that a yard has given a part a damage code of “000” but the part’s description says “scratched” or “parking lot ding” etc. A lot of yards think that entering a damage code of “000” will result in an A Grade, but if there’s a word in the description that sounds like there is some damage, the part’s condition will be downgraded, even if the damage code is left “000.” So we recommend that you enter accurate damage codes that truly reflect the condition of the part.

Example: 2015 Escape front door has a 2-inch scratch in location 5. You would give it a damage code of “5S1” and it will still be graded as an A because the scratch isn’t that big. At my yard, we also put in the description “2-inch scratch next to door handle” or whatever would help describe the part to people not in our industry.

The other issue I often see is yards not putting ANY part grading on the part. This is a huge mistake. Some yards think that this will force the shops to call them. I hear, “I would rather have them call me, then I can tell them about the damage.” I don’t know about you, but I am getting a lot more text messages, instant messages, and email orders than ever before. In reality, shops that use Car-Part Pro or estimating systems can filter out parts without grades, so they never see yours at all! Most shops tell me that they think a part with an X grade is no good, and they think that’s why the yard graded it as an X. In the case where the customer could use a B or even a C grade part, you could be losing out on sales.

Another important point: When I talk to shops, other recyclers, and even regular walk-in customers, they all have one thing in common. They tell me, “If a part does not have pictures, or if it says $CALL, I skip over it.” That’s an article for another day, but you guys all know that you would do the same thing if you went to your local hardware store’s website to look at hammers and they all said $CALL.

One last thing I want to talk about is parts being shipped “as described.” To me, this is the best review a customer can give me! Make sure that your part’s physical condition matches what is indicated in your inventory management system, so that your customer knows exactly what they are getting when they buy from you! There is nothing worse than getting a part that is dented or rusted along the seam when it wasn’t disclosed prior to delivery.

As always, if you have any questions for me, please email me at or call/text my cell phone at (859)802-2382.

Theresa Colbert is a Sales and Training Specialist at Her goal is to find the correct product to fit each customer and make sure that they are trained to use it. Reach Theresa at (859)802-2382 or email

ara roe logo
  • Auto Recycling magazine
  • Toolbox_renew_post
  • Induction Innovations

Click Below To Login To ARA Members-Only Content

In the members-only content area, access current or past issues of Automotive Recycling magazine as a flipbook or pdf, and articles available exclusively to members. Login to the website and click “Archive” from the top navigation to see past issues.

Click Below For Toolbox Magazine



ARA Media Kit