Inventory Control

How to Eliminate Obsolete Parts in Your Auto Shop

January 30, 2023 • 5 min read

Most auto body shops keep a fair amount of auto parts inventory on hand, especially for parts they use frequently. But when an automotive shop orders too much inventory, these parts can quickly become obsolete. Selling them off is the best way to free up space in your shop—and recoup at least some of the cash you’ve spent on these items. 

Wondering how to get rid of obsolete parts inventory? In this article, we’ll reveal how to get rid of obsolete parts inventory, touch on what causes obsolescence in auto shops, and zero in on how to practice better auto parts inventory control


How to get rid of obsolete parts inventory

If you already have obsolete parts on hand, your auto shop needs to find a way to sell off these parts—and the sooner, the better. 

To salvage as much of your obsolete inventory as possible, determine just how “undesirable” each auto part is. Some parts may have little to no value to your business but can still be used by other shops or customers who repair their own cars. Some parts may have value because they can be mined for the raw materials used to manufacture them. Others may belong in a junkyard. 

Take some time to make a list of all your obsolete inventory and classify it accordingly. If you’re using inventory management software like Sortly, you can generate a report of your shop’s inventory, have a look, and then create tags, folders, or notes to organize these parts as you see fit. 

Once you’ve made those determinations, move forward with selling them off. Start with what you can sell online. This expands your market almost infinitely, especially if you’re willing to subsidize shipping costs to other customers. Create a website, list parts on resale websites like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace, or consider becoming a seller on eBay or Amazon. 

You may also want to contact your suppliers to see if they’d consider buying back any parts. These suppliers may have customers needing the exact items you’ve decided no longer serve your business. If these suppliers do not wish to repurchase products, they may be able to connect you with other customers interested in taking the parts off your hands. 

For parts that do not sell online—or for which you are sure there is no resale market—you may want to contact a liquidator. Remember that liquidation usually occurs before a business files for bankruptcy, but your auto shop can consider this option whenever necessary. Keep in mind that you probably won’t receive much in return for your stock, so you may want to explore other options first. 

Related: How to Find Suppliers You Trust


What causes obsolescence in auto shops?

An inadequate inventory control strategy is often the cause of obsolete inventory in auto shops. As your business grows and scales, the inventory control practices you started out with can lead to inefficiencies over time. When properly implemented, inventory control helps businesses stock enough inventory to meet customer demand without unnecessarily tying up cash on backstock. An inventory control system that automates your inventory and allows you real-time visibility into everything in stock is critical to ordering the proper amount of inventory and avoiding obsolescence. 

Practicing better inventory control, along with these six best practices, can help a business avoid inventory obsolescence:

  1. Carefully organizing inventory and always knowing what’s in stock—even across multiple locations
  2. Understanding what inventory you actually need to keep on hand to meet demand
  3. Strengthening relationships with your best suppliers to ensure swift, accurate deliveries of specific parts
  4. Improving your demand forecasting strategy
  5. Improving your inventory management strategy 
  6. Selling off parts rapidly before obsolescence occurs whenever possible 


How to take control of your inventory

Now that you know the root causes of parts obsolescence, it’s time to implement an inventory management strategy that prevents your business from the overordering which leads to inventory obsolescence in the first place.

First, organize your auto shop’s inventory, from the floor of your shop to your storage room to whatever you keep in an off-site warehouse. By understanding what your business truly has on hand and transferring that information onto a proven, flexible inventory management system, you’re that much closer to pinpointing what your business has and what it needs to keep in the shop.

As you get organized, consider upgrading to inventory management software that automates your inventory management process and streamlines your inventory-related tasks. Inventory apps like Sortly feature powerful automation features like barcode and QR code scanning, expiration and low stock alerts, end-of-warranty reminders, customizable reports, and the ability to maintain a visual, detail-rich inventory across multiple locations. 

Once you’re confident you know exactly what your auto shop has in stock, your team can begin to strengthen its demand forecasting strategy by reviewing customer trends over the past few years and weighing them against predictions. Seek to understand when manufacturers are making significant changes to the design of certain vehicles, how environmental legislation may change customers’ wants and needs, and how economic trends like increased car travel, fluctuations in new vehicle prices, and supply chain disruptions may affect future demand.

Once you’ve settled on demand forecasting, you can use standard inventory formulas and ratios such as safety stock, reorder point, and lead time to optimize your inventory reordering strategy.

Related: How to Manage Auto Parts Inventory 

Experience the simplest inventory management software.

Are you ready to transform how your business does inventory?


About Sortly

Sortly is a top-rated inventory management software that helps auto shops practice better inventory control and avoid auto parts inventory obsolescence. By helping your team create a flexible, transparent, and intuitive inventory list, your auto shop will always know what it has on hand, what it needs to order, and where every last part is located—even across multiple shops and locations. By automating your inventory management strategy, your business can forecast demand more accurately, reduce inventory spending, and ultimately better serve your customers.

Wondering whether Sortly is a good fit for your team? Try a free, two-week trial of Sortly today.