Replacement Parts

Analysis: Should you buy non OEM spare parts for your car

My personal experience with NON-OE auto pasts has not been good at all and often Its come back to bite me on my behind.

BHPian Captain Slow recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The question everyone always asks – Should you buy non-OE auto parts?

Being a kind of DIY guy, my car and bike very-very rarely goes into the workshop for any kind of repair or maintenance. As we all know good quality spares (and a good reliable mechanic) (I WILL NEVER TRUST THE ONLINE CHAIN OF MECHANICS AND REPAIR APPS) can keep your car/bike running like new for a very very long time.

Getting good quality parts is not always easy.

OE car parts are tried tested and their quality is always good.

PROS of OE car parts:

  • Tested.
  • Proven quality.
  • Better life.
  • 100% Compatibility guaranteed.
  • Peace of mind.
  • Saves you time and money (read more).

CONS of OE car parts:

  • Sometimes can be hard to find (Honda, VW, Toyota ETC don’t like to sell parts over the counter).
  • Long wait times for some rare parts.
  • Expensive (sometimes 2x – 3x the price of a non-OE PART.

Non-OE parts are easy to find and cheap.

PROS of non-OE car parts:

  • Easy to find.
  • Much much cheaper than OE Parts.

CONS of non-OE car parts:

  • Poor quality.
  • Untested.
  • Unreliable.
  • Doesn’t last too long.
  • Compatibility is not always guaranteed.

Ever heard of the saying penny wise pound foolish? Well buying NON-OE parts is exactly doing this!

My personal experience with NON-OE auto pasts has not been good at all and often Its come back to bite me on my behind. Costing you time (which according to me is more valuable than a few Rs. 100/1000 for the parts).

Example 1 – Suspension parts Ford:

The original inner, outer tie rods and stabilizer links lasted until about 65-70K KM! The first time these went bad they were replaced by a brand called Rane (these things lasted for another 10 – 15K KM and once again at 88K KM we replaced them with a brand called Monroe – During this time it was observed that the front struts were weak and needed a change soon. Fast forward to 2022 now that we are back to using the cars during a routine check @ 98K KM, It was found that the inner, outer tie rods and stabilizer links are bust yet again!

The Ford OE link rod costs about 1,000 for each side! while the other brands sell them for about Rs. 600-800 a pair.

First time – Rane brand.

Second time – Monroe.

Gearbox mount – Ford.

OE mounted lasted until 70K KM.

Noticed a broken mount during inspection – Replaced with a no-brand local mount.

During 88K – Gearbox mount kaput again. Replaced with a brand called Technix.

Inspection at 98K – Gearbox mount goes kaput again.

Having brunt my hands with non-OE auto parts 2 times over this time I did not want to take any risk and waste my time with junk parts – Every part we ordered was OE from Ford – (Except for some interior clips).

Following parts were replaced:

  • FORD OE front struts.
  • FORD OE inner and outer tie rods.
  • FORD OE stabilizer link set.
  • FORD OE Gearbox mount.

Twice bitten! The third time we played it right!

Next example – Maruti:

Maruti parts are quite easy to source and really don’t cost that much. (YES-YES I KNOW SOME OF YOU WILL ASK me – WHY DID YOU BUY NON-OE MARUTI PARTS ??). This will be another episode where I was penny wise and pound foolish.

I will not get into all the details about this, just one incident will be enough to tell you all how bad non-OE auto parts are.

Lower arms:

One of the sites to buy car parts had a big sale and here is where I noticed a pair for lower arms for 1/2 the price of the OE ones (Maruti Original ones), thinking that this is a good deal I ordered the parts. (The site delivering the parts was perfect in their order and delivery) OTR branded lower arms.

When the lower arms arrived I was in for a rude shock – the parts seemed of very-very poor quality! You may ask how do I know? ah well, I have a pair of OE lower arms (FROM MARUTI) for comparison.

Below is a comparison of the two:

  • The MGP lower arm is heavy and made very very well.
  • The lower arm bush quality, ball joint and ball joint boot quality, fit and finish on the MGP part is 100% better than the local part.
  • In terms of weight – the MGP part is a good 600-800 grams heavier. (Each lower arm).

Very curious to see how well these NON-OE is lower arms are made, I removed the rubber boot for the ball joint.

This is what I saw:

Analysis: Should you buy non OEM spare parts for your car

In terms of weight – the MGP part is a good 800-900 grams heavier:

The lower arm bush quality on the MGP is much much better – The bush on the NON-OE part looks like it won’t last very long:

MGP rubber bush:

OTR rubber bush:

Fellow BHPians and readers, you may think that buying NON-OE parts is good and you will save a lot of money but think about the time/effort and labour costs in replacing these parts? The time your car spends in the garage. Is it really worth it? I mean the end of the day you may save Rs. 2000-3000 for now, but you will have to replace these parts again very-very soon which would mean 2x-3x the labour costs.

The OE engine mounts on our Maruti lasted for over 18 years, the car did more than a lakh km, finally changed it because they were old and parts were cheap.

If you plan to keep your car/bike with you for a long time and really like to keep it in the best condition possible my humble suggestion to everyone: As much as possible please use only OE auto parts on your car/bike. It might cost you a bit more but this cost is justified.

Disclaimer:

All parts were purchased by me.

I’m not affiliated with any online parts store/auto part brand.

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

My answer = it depends. Will buy OE parts for my cars 95% of the time, but with some exceptions. Example, with my C220, some aftermarket parts (e.g. engine mounts, dampers) lasted about double of what the factory parts did. Manufacturers do a lot of cost cutting at the time of assembly. For my Jeep, an aftermarket large custom-built radiator solved the overheating problem in a way that the factory radiator just couldn’t. I will also go non-OE if I’m looking at a superior suspension for my car (example, my erstwhile 8th-gen Civic).

But of course, these examples are rare. 95% of the time, I will buy OE parts only. And remember, it is also important WHO you buy your parts from (too many fakes in the market). I prefer the dealer or a reputable shop like Shetty Motors in Bombay.

I hold my cars for 10 years minimum and top quality parts + labour are crucial to keeping them in top shape.

Here’s what BHPian shancz had to say on the matter:

Voted for OE parts, reasons already listed in the OP.

Non OE parts only if they offer something better than OE.

Examples:

  • I found the Monroe rear shock absorbers to have slightly better damping than OE MSIL ones on the wagonR (2016) but not night and day.
  • EBC sintered brake pads fulfil both scenarios. A friend used them on his D390 as an expensive upgrade while used them on his N1000 as a cheaper option with slightly lower performance.

So the answer really is depends.

Here’s what BHPian Rocketscience had to say on the matter:

It depends on which part we are talking about and the knowledge of our mechanic/online sources, to clarify, parts like wiper blades and horns for example can safely be bought aftermarket/non OEM, infact in many examples they should be bought from the outside, someone the other day mentioned shelling out ₹8000 for Creta’s horns from the dealership which is frankly daylight robbery, a good pair of Hella horns would have given similar sound and performance/reliability while costing less than a fraction this also brings me to the second reason.

In some of the cases, with the knowledge of mechanics or online sources one can learn that the exact same (not similar but same) parts are available for much cheaper outside the dealerships, the reason is simple, car manufacturers don’t manufacture each and every single part themselves but use outside vendors for many of them, those outside vendors can then sell that exact same part for much less outside without the car manufacturer premium in between (the difference can be night and day and very significant if you climb the ladder and talk of higher end German brands), I faintly remember the examples for same in this forum as well wherein someone got the exact same AC compressor I guess for 30% the cost from outside for a VAG car, needless to say one needs to be very careful going down this road as there are fakes and many people to misguide and cheat you.

Then the last is good quality aftermarket replacement parts by reputable brands (like in the case of horns and wiper blades I mentioned earlier but also for many other parts) which once again can perform about as good while costing much less and of course there are better than OEM quality parts by high performance brands which can even be more expensive but better than OEM parts.

So you see it is not that black and white as buying OEM only or buying outside only, while buying OEM parts is a safe bet if you are looking for peace of mind, long term ownership and reliability, you can get about as good an experience in some cases outside for much less money too.

Here’s what BHPian Kosfactor had to say on the matter:

For most Indian brands and in this case I’ll include Hyundai as well – You get several grade of parts, at least 3 grades. You need to choose according to your application.

Someone who bought an M800 for 20K will not worry much about OEM vs MGP, the usage of the vehicle will be very sparse and the cheapest fix to make it road worthy would do just fine. Having had old Maruti vehicles , I am well aware of this. Some parts are no longer available in MGP and you have to rely on aftermarket suppliers to fill the gap. The mechanic’s integrity and customer’s willingness to pay for doing the job properly is key.

While driving my vehicle home after a 1L kms service at the ASC, I couldn’t help wonder that it felt just like the day I brought it home. Same roads , same traffic and same old Silk Board now with added metro mess.

Use OEM parts & technicians for as long as you can.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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