For years consumers have been led to believe that original car 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.
This is not the case, says Gunther Schmitz, Acting Chairman of Right to Repair SA (R2RSA).
"Probably 99% of the parts required for repairs (excluding accident repairs) and maintenance are manufactured by Original Equipment Suppliers (OES) such Bosch, Mahle, GUD etc.
"Consumers need to know that OEMs buy these same parts off the assembly line, by the commission, and sell them to the aftermarket repackaged with their logo on them," explains Schmitz.
These same parts from the OES 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’.
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Aftermarket good after a few years
"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. 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," he says.
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," he said.
Right to Repair says that motorists can benefit from 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."
"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 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. So far we are very positive about the work done by the Competition Commission and hope for publication of the code of conduct in the next month or two," concludes Schmitz.