Automotive repair shops can often save customers money by using aftermarket parts when advisable or possible. According to the guys at Wisegeek.org, “aftermarket” auto parts are parts from a company other than the original manufacturer of the vehicle. These parts meet or sometimes even exceed the quality standards of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts you buy at a dealer. (Simply stated, Toyota makes Toyota parts).
In fact, some drivers and car enthusiasts prefer aftermarket parts instead of OEM parts. But as Jeremy Nutt posted in his 1A auto blog (Nov. 22, 2010), “… not all auto parts are created equal.”
Just like fake designer handbags, pirated DVDs and seized toys from China, there is a huge market for counterfeit and imitation parts from Asia. These parts are often inferior and sometimes even dangerous. The counterfeit parts business is estimated to be worth billions of dollars each year.
Last month, FBI agents searched a warehouse near Manhattan and made three arrests for selling counterfeit auto parts – including brake pads – to repairs shops in the New York City area. As reported by a story in the Queens Gazette, many of these repair shops work on taxicabs that operate within the city’s five boroughs. There are more than 10,000 yellow cabs in NYC.
Drivers must also realize that not all car models have a demand or need for aftermarket parts. Some high-end BMW models from the late 1990s have no aftermarket replacement for spark plug wires. The only wires that work are those made exclusively by the manufacturer. If you’re on an extremely tight deadline, you may have to have the wires shipped overnight by air directly from Germany. $$$.
Consequently, age can be a determining factor too. Hood hinges for a 1991 Volkswagen Fox are no longer available – either from VW or aftermarket sources. (Salvage parts are the only option.)
Some things to consider:
- Make sure installation of any aftermarket part will not void your vehicle’s factory warranty.
- Don’t insist on the cheapest parts. Would you trust a $99 brake job if someone’s life depended on it? Which of course it does – the lives of you and your family.
- Be cautious if packaging appears flimsy or lacks the name brand or logo. Watch out for names that are similar to well-known brands. EZDelco is fake, ACDelco is not.
- Major parts manufacturers now use holographic IDs, barcodes and even RFID tags on specific components to help consumers and professionals determine imitation parts.
Most aftermarket brands offer excellent quality and value. Some of the brands we use:
- Bosch electrical parts
- Gabriel shocks & struts
- Monroe shocks & struts
- Moog suspension parts
- NGK spark plugs (European models)
- Nippon Denso spark plugs (Japanese models)
Some believe OEM may have actually referenced the Dutch phrase, “onder eigen merk”, which translates to “under own brand”. Oddly enough, not many auto parts are manufactured in the Netherlands. If you have any questions about the parts we use, please ask. We can also help explain warranty coverage.