Don’t be duped by the car parts deception

The hotly debated draft code of conduct for the motor industry has once again brought into the spotlight the issue of original parts. Director of Right to Repair SA (R2RSA), Les Mc Master, says for years an impression has been created for consumers that original parts can only be obtained from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), that they are superior parts, and independent workshops deal in inferior, or commonly referred to as pirate parts.

“The reality is that probably 99% of the parts required for repairs (excluding accident repairs) and maintenance are manufactured by a great number of Original Equipment Suppliers (OES) like Bosch, Mahle, GUD etc. Consumers need to know that OEMs buy these same parts off the assembly line, by commission, and sell them to the aftermarket repackaged with their logo on them,” explains Mc Master.

These same parts from the OESs and the same production lines are available to the independent aftermarket i.e. independent repair workshops. These manufacturers produce for the independent aftermarket according to the same quality standards, and are referred to as ‘parts of matching quality’.

He says motorists should educate themselves about car parts as these can end up costing a fortune if you don’t know of better-value alternatives to OEM or original parts. “A car is a big investment so obviously we want to know we’re getting the best possible quality when it comes to parts.”

“Aftermarket parts are a good option, especially if your car is three to four years old. Of course there are inferior parts out there but by sticking with brands you know and those recommended by a reputable, accredited workshop that knows your vehicle and uses the right products and parts, you can get the same performance out of aftermarket parts versus OEM and original parts, at a lower cost,” says Mc Master.

He adds that the aftermarket also has the advantage of access to parts with an improved design. “After a vehicle has been on the market for a few years it becomes apparent what parts fail and for what reason. A quality parts producer will redesign the part, correcting the fault that only becomes apparent after the part is used in real life conditions, thereby providing a part that will perform to the exact or better standard than the original part.”

Another plus for motorists is that there are many companies that produce aftermarket parts – more variety means a better price range for the independent workshop owner when sourcing parts. And, with such a big supplier pool, the parts are readily available.

Mc Master concludes that the new-car market in South Africa unfortunately still burdens consumers with warranties which dictate the use of original parts. “In many first-world countries, this is a thing of the past and consumers are free to use aftermarket parts in their vehicles without affecting the warranty. This is the kind of change we desperately need in South Africa and which is why R2RSA is at the forefront of lobbying for change and legislating the Right to Repair initiative in South Africa. Right to Repair has been advocated and legislated in first-world countries around the world since the early 80s. It promotes consumers having the right to choose where their vehicles are serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice.”