High cost of car parts

By admin
06 May 2011

Factory-fitted and manufacturer-approved spare parts cost a fortune – should you buy from independent suppliers?

No one wants to compromise their vehicle’s reliability – or their own safety – with dodgy spare parts. But more and more consumers are complaining that they can’t afford to maintain their vehicles.

Most of us have had an unpleasant experience somewhere along the line where we’ve had to fork out for expensive car parts.

Recently when I wanted to have a niggling noise in my car’s chassis seen to the Cape Town dealership informed me it would involve replacing wheel-bearing components – and quoted me R6 165 for them.

I called an independent supplier and discovered he could supply the necessary parts from a reputable US wholesale manufacturer for R3 112 – about half the price the car dealership charged.

A colleague told me his car dealer wanted to charge him R85 for a parking light bulb for his new Japanese-make car. He eventually paid R5 for one at an independent supplier in Brackenfell, Cape Town.

Consumer forums also report receiving complaints from vehicle owners who say the cost of some factory-fitted “genuine parts” are exorbitant.

The cost of vehicle repairs is a major headache for insurers as well: the high cost of new car parts results in many vehicles being scrapped instead of being repaired.

But what about owners who simply want to maintain their vehicles?

How do the prices of parts supplied by dealerships and so-called independent suppliers compare, and to what extent do they differ in their quality?

Genuine or alternative parts? Consumers can buy genuine parts, also known as original equipment (OE) parts, or alternative parts (“after-market parts”).

What should the ordinary motorist do? And where do so-called pirate parts fit into the picture?

Many parts are inferior to the after-market or alternative parts sold in his store, says independent parts supplier Deon Serfontein, owner of Good Hope Spares in Cape Town.

But some of the spares he sells are similar in quality to parts dealerships sell under different brand names and packaging.

For example a manufacturer that produces clutch parts for vehicle plants also provides them to independent suppliers like him, Serfontein says, mentioning two well-known brands.

By sticking to well-known spare parts brands, he says, you are assured of a product that’s very close to the quality supplied by the dealership.

Parts replaced during routine services are sometimes identical, whether you buy them from the dealership or an independent supplier.

For instance dealerships use NGK or Bosch spark plugs, Serfontein says, and filters from GUD.

“There are many other products that definitely aren’t made in the same [highly-regarded] parts factories. They’re often exceptionally cheap but definitely not of the same quality,” he says.

“Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) members are trying to create more awareness about pirated parts – inferior-quality unbranded parts. There are also unscrupulous people who mislead consumers by for example distributing a ‘Bosh’ spark plug with packaging that looks similar to that of the genuine Bosch product.”

We did a random check on the cost of some of the most critical service parts. Read all about it in YOU, 12 Mei 2012.

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