If you are looking for a new part for your truck, it is important to consider whether you are interested in an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) part or an aftermarket part. Aftermarket parts are parts that are manufactured by an independent company.
The pros and cons of purchasing an OEM part are extremely straightforward. However, not all aftermarket parts are equivalent to each other. If you do decide to purchase aftermarket parts, it is important to evaluate the part source.
Benefits of Buying OEM Parts
OEM parts are made by the company that made your truck, using the same materials and standards as the original. The quality assurance that comes with OEM parts is the biggest benefit to buying these parts.
Aftermarket parts are made by independent companies. They may not be made of exactly the same materials and they may not be manufactured to the same standards. What makes this issue even more pressing is that there are no rules or laws governing imported aftermarket parts. An unscrupulous manufacturer can make a part from inferior materials and legally sell it to US customers. That being said, there are many aftermarket manufacturers that make extremely high quality parts.
OEM parts typically come with a warranty that further protects your investment. Many aftermarket parts do not.
OEM part replacement can protect the resale value of your truck.
Drawbacks of Buying OEM Parts
The biggest drawbacks to purchasing OEM parts are price and availability.
OEM parts are typically the most expensive parts on the market. Aftermarket parts that are made by a reputable manufacturer can save you money while still giving you a high quality product. It all depends on the specific aftermarket manufacturer and dealer.
OEM parts are not as widely available and often have to be special ordered. You may have to choose between a period of downtime for your truck while waiting for a part, and going with an aftermarket part. This can often tip the balance towards purchasing an aftermarket part so you can get back on the road.
What to Look For in Aftermarket Parts
Believe it or not, there are no standards in labelling, product descriptions, testing, or quality control for aftermarket parts. Therefore it is up to you, or to a reputable dealer, to investigate with a “Buyer Beware” mentality. Your safety may be on the line.
High quality aftermarket part suppliers provide:
- End-user training and technical support
- In-house product specific experts
- Available literature on part materials
- Available literature on part design specifications, tolerances, etc.
- Warranty and return policy
Form a Relationship
A good parts distributor has done a lot of the legwork to determine which parts are worth purchasing, and which are not. A distributor with expertise around your make and model and good policies around returns and warrantees can save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation. Distributors that have invested in education and training tend to be more successful. Therefore, these distributors are likely to be around for you for the long haul.
Aftermarket Parts to Run Away From
Some of the aftermarket market is still the wild west. Aftermarket consumers can receive the wrong part, or parts that don’t fit. Make sure you can return anything you buy. Before making a purchase, try contacting the vendor. If you can not reach a human or if you reach someone with no knowledge about the product, look elsewhere.
Many companies build a strong reputation based on the quality of their products, only to be purchased by another company with lower standards. If you have good results with a particular brand of parts, keep an eye on the brand. Make sure it hasn’t been purchased by another company since your last purchase.
Aftermarket parts can often be 60% cheaper than OEM parts simply because they do not have the brand name. However, if a part is substantially cheaper than even the other aftermarket parts on the market, you should be suspicious. The part may not be as durable, it may be made from inferior materials, or it may not have gone through the same quality control process.
The decisions you make when buying parts for your truck should put safety first. Whether you purchase an OEM part or an aftermarket part, make sure you are getting quality.