Are All Parts Created Equal?

by Conor Burke

Car owners are aware that eventually parts will fail, wear out or be damaged. Few owners have the luxury of regularly getting themselves into a new vehicle, avoiding the challenges of untimely repairs and maintenance.  You may not be able to predict a breakdown but you can prepare for maintenance for instance brakes. But you do have options when it comes time for the repairs.

What you can control is where you take your vehicle for maintenance and the parts used.  If you choose the manufacturer dealership it’s likely you will get Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. Most independent repair facilities use aftermarket.  OEM parts are the manufacturers. The same parts used to build your car at the factory.  Aftermarket parts are engineered replacements that are made by other companies.  There are pro’s and con’s to both. So here are a few things you may want to consider before you decide.

A Collection of Aftermarket Parts
  • With an OEM part you know what you are getting. An identical replacement to what your vehicle came with new and will function the same.
  • With aftermarket parts, you have options. Many reputable aftermarket suppliers offer different lines, for example Good, Better, and Best option. However, the quality typically varies with each. This is a common option with brake pads and rotors.
  • Consider how hard you are on your vehicle, are you a high mileage driver, drive aggressively, or carry heavy loads? If you answered yes, selecting the best available aftermarket option is good decision. 
  • Many aftermarket parts can be a good replacement for OEM. If a part is weak and prone to failure many aftermarket companies will offer a replacement solution or fix for a commonly failing OEM part. 
  • Not all aftermarket parts are better. Beware, sometimes that cliché saying is true, “you get what you pay for”.  The aftermarket parts business is a multibillion dollar industry producing both high and low quality replacement parts.
  • Consider the warranty. OEM replacement parts are warrantied and backed by the manufacturer, the aftermarket parts warranty may vary. Fortunately in Ontario the Consumer Protection Act requires repairers to provide a minimum warranty of 90 days or 5000 kms whichever comes first.
  •  Your vehicle manufacturer warranty.  Repairs and services done outside the dealership will not automatically void your warranty. It is important to note you want to use factory approved fluids and parts like filters.  In addition make sure you keep your receipts, if you do have to make a warranty claim proper documentation will be needed.  You can find vehicle specific warranty requirements in your owner’s manual.

It’s safe to say not all aftermarket parts are created equal. Your decision should be based on needs and what you’re looking for.  In conclusion to get the most out of your vehicle, take all the points above into consideration.