Saturday, July 14, 2012

Should you use "Factory" or "Aftermarket" Parts?

Question: Are genuine factory parts always better than aftermarket parts?

To adequately answer this question requires providing information concerning the source of both factory and aftermarket parts.
First let’s establish the fact that car companies do not directly manufacture their own parts.
Back in the day, Ford Motor Company corporate management style was what is referred to as “vertical integration” which is when a company’s supply chain is produced by one owner.  An example of this was the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan where Ford produced their own parts for their vehicles.  In other words, within the Rouge complex, all the car parts were produced and finished cars rolled off the assembly line. 
Fast forward to today and to the best of my knowledge, no automotive company directly produce all of the parts needed for the manufacture of their automobiles.
Therefore, another company produces parts the auto manufacturers use to assemble their vehicles.  Let’s take a look at the parts scene.

There are two categories of replacement parts for a vehicle:
  1. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM):  These are parts that are produced by a designated company which makes parts according to the specification of the manufacturer and are installed at the factory during the assembly process.  They are also sold as replacement parts which are obtained primarily from the dealership.  They usually are an exact duplicate of the original part the vehicle came with unless it has been superseded by an updated part.  Here are the Pro’s and Con’s of OEM parts: 
·         Ease of selecting parts (according to model only one available)
·         Greater assurance of quality
·         A warranty is provided for most parts
·         Usually more expensive
·         Primary competition are other dealers
·         Quality is not always superior

To automatically replace all parts with OEM parts is a safe but expensive method that will not always ensure satisfactory results.  For example, some aftermarket parts may be better than factory parts, such as: brake pads (better anti- squealing), filters, shifter levers, speakers, and parts that have been improved from the factory specifications.

     2.  Aftermarket:  These are parts that were produced by companies which were not the original manufacturer but were designed to fit and perform as good or better than the original.  The quality of these parts can range from very good to very poor which is why you must know which parts and maker can be used and which parts should be OEM.  Generally speaking, large name brand companies will produce good parts and be priced significantly lower than OEM parts.  However, some parts are not available as aftermarket parts and you’ll have to purchase OEM parts.  To play it safe, most major electrical parts you purchase should be OEM parts unless you are convinced otherwise.  In addition, body parts would be included in this category, although, some insurance companies may have a surcharge to your policy if you want OEM parts.  Here are the pros and cons of aftermarket parts:
·         Less expensive
·         Quality equal or better (from name brand companies)
·         More variety to choose from (competition reduces price)
·         Availability  (many sources to purchase from)
·         Quality varies widely  (inferior materials,   inaccurate dimensions)
·         Overwhelming selection
·         May not have a warranty
The decision to use OEM parts or Aftermarket parts is determined by the customer and their mechanic.  If you don’t mind paying a significantly higher price and want to play it safe, use OEM parts.  In this case, you can still reduce the price of the part by locating it on the internet and purchasing it from sources selling OEM parts (such as competing dealers, OEM suppliers or EBay.)
However, if a lower price is the most important thing, then aftermarket parts will help you achieve your goal.  In addition, some aftermarket parts come with a life-time warranty, therefore, you only have to purchase it once and after that, you can exchange the part for a new one if failure occurs (within the warranty terms.)
This especially works well for brake disc pads or brake shoes, since they are a consumable item and its only a matter of time before they will have to be replaced.  Just be sure to keep the receipts in your glove box and don’t let the brake pad material wear down to the steel plate or you will void the life-time warranty.
It is in your best interest to establish a good relationship with the following:
  • Your vehicles’ dealership service advisor (try to keep the same person.)
  • Your vehicles’ dealership parts department (try to keep the same person.)
  • Locate and retain a qualified personal mechanic to coordinate the work that he/she or the dealership technician will do.
  • A good aftermarket parts store (NAPA is one, locate on the internet or phone book for your area.)
Make sure you keep all receipts together for returns and to be able to document parts that have been replaced.  This will also allow you to sell your vehicle at a higher price if you can prove that certain parts have been replaced. 
Finally, for your information, I’m writing an ebook entitled: “Owning a Car on the Cheap” which will cover many topics and information on acquiring, maintaining and selling your vehicle.  If you would like to sign up on the presale list, please send me an email requesting to add your name.  The release date is by September 30, 2012.  My email address is:
Well, I hope this information will assist you in making the decision that is right for you.
Next topic is:   What is a tune-up?

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