Are All Replacement Car Parts the Same?
It is obvious that each different make and model of vehicle has different parts required. Each different vehicle has varying features, unique performance components and packaged characteristics to be addressed in terms of replacement parts, or in terms of custom and/or high performance offerings from the after-market parts industries. It is rare to find a line of vehicles that utilize the cookie cutter method of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) parts, that is, a one-part-fits-all type of approach. This was how the automotive industry started out, but it hasn’t been seen for nearly a Century. Variations are not just common for parts, but for entire systems.
In today’s market a case can be made for a movement toward standardizing of auto parts across the board. Many new items are engineered from the ground up, and it is expensive to do so. Every new part requires an endless list of research and development, market research, engineering, testing, integration, purchasing, stocking, advertising, support, manufacturing, distribution, accounting and much more. This turns a giant economic wheel in almost every industry, and trickles down opportunity for many smaller businesses. Recently there has been a lot of talk about the need to reduce costs and deliver quality in the same breath. This can almost assuredly be accomplished, but the only way it can be is through standardization.
This is not to say; reduce the quality, but it is to say; reduce the cost of producing quality. The reality of today's automotive and after-market parts industries, is fairly clear as most see it; price vs. quality. This is not always true for everything the consumer has to make a decision about, but it is true for most. True after-market products are really copies of the originals. The problem is though, they are not like the original parts. They may look like true manufacturer’s auto parts, especially in the obvious places where the after-market manufacturer knows the consumer will look. Automotive replacement parts, whether OEM or budget priced knockoffs, where quality and performance is concerned, you pretty much get what you pay for.
Custom made and high performance parts have the reputation of delivering what they say they will, at a price. This creates even more confusion for the consumer. They see mostly higher pricing (not all) with high performance and custom vehicle parts, and ask themselves: is this far and away, above and beyond what I really need? The consumer may then convince himself, usually with the aid of a salesperson, that the budget knockoff part is good enough, or these are all really the same part, they will do the same job, they are the same quality. So the consumer may end up with an after-market part on his vehicle that does more damage to related vehicle systems, or simply doesn’t perform or has very limited durability. There is evidence that modern vehicle parts manufacturers and for that matter, vehicle manufacturers themselves will continue the trend toward standardize, reduce and reuse in the future.
Many internal components of Toyota made automatic transmissions are reused in new vehicles. Daimler-Chrysler has been noted of late for recycling existing equipment into new and updated processes. GM and Ford have also demonstrated the will to start a carry-over of standardization program, in which much of the component parts will be identical. The idea is to “engineer” around existing proven components.
Variation will eventually dwindle and ultimately the cost of producing quality will as well. A good number of internal components have been subjected to a standardizing platform. Some components that the consumer can actually see and touch have been standardized as well in recent late model designs.
What has all this got to do with replacement parts for your 1978 Buick? Nothing whatsoever. But what it does have to do with is a future where automotive parts will be of high quality, and will be inexpensive. You can’t find after-market parts for your 2006 Infiniti. There is a reason for that. There’s no market for it.
You can only get parts for it from the dealer right now. Vehicles under warranty will not have a need for replacement parts until that warranty is over.
Someday, in the not too distant future, you will be able to buy custom and high performance quality at after-market pricing. That day, however, is not today. You must be concerned with value-added automotive parts in the sense that quality, in general, and quality and proven performance name brands come with an initially higher price tag than others. Realizing that those “others” will end up costing you more in the long run in irreversible damage to your vehicle and peace of mind, be mindful of your decisions about quality, and what its true value is.
This article was posted on March 24, 2006
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