Motor vehicles are made up of thousands of individual parts and vehicle manufacturers are in the unenviable position of having to be able to supply virtually every one of them, not only for the vehicles they are currently making, but for many past models as well.
However genuine, or original equipment (OE) parts are only one source of replacement parts, and there are other options that, depending on the circumstances, may also be worth considering.
Genuine v non-genuine
Vehicle manufacturers supply parts for the vehicles they produce, but there is a whole industry producing non-genuine replacement parts. However, the aftermarket industry generally only makes parts that are commonly needed. Many parts will never be available from aftermarket sources as they are not commonly required, too complex to manufacture, or their designs have some form of legal protection.
The quality of replacement parts can vary widely. Many OE providers supply the replacement part industry with essentially the same parts as those provided to the vehicle’s manufacturer. However, there are also parts that are of questionable origin and quality. For the average person telling the quality of one part from another can be almost impossible. In many cases the only measure of quality you will have is the reputation of the retailer and the brand of the parts you buy.
Many believe that non-genuine parts are cheaper than OE spares, however this isn’t necessarily the case, so it would be a good idea to check prices and availability from all sources.
Where a new part is costly or not available, a second hand part may be an alternative.
But it’s important to understand that the part’s condition may be difficult to fully assess and any warranty that comes with it will reflect this. Many parts recyclers only offer a replacement warranty, which means if the part is no good they will replace it with another used part, but they generally won’t cover the costs of removing and refitting it.
Reconditioned components are often a cost effective source of replacement parts and many companies specialise in the overhaul of a wide variety of automotive parts and assemblies.
Warranties on reconditioned components vary from supplier to supplier, but in some cases can equal that of a new part.