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The quality versus price conundrum

In almost all examples of the automotive parts business the adage applies that it’s better to buy one good pair of shoes than four cheap ones.
This is evidenced in the experience of having to replace sooner than later, due to quality.
If we look at what constitutes a good purchase decision, buyers do not only look at the price but also the quality of the product while the availability of a back up service is a crucial element to the pedigree of the product.
Over time it has been seen that the majority of parts issues that have been resolved by the back up service of suppliers were found not to be due to product failure but rather due to how the product is applied or fitted.
It is well known that in the automotive aftermarket parts suppliers claim legitimacy and authenticity of their parts. Without a doubt the Original Equipment Brands carry credibility, in the eyes of the consumer, while in the aftermarket the reputable brands of products with matching quality will provide the value for money expected, whilst not necessarily being the cheapest.
Value for money is a complex concept, and it is viewed in many different ways. In the automotive aftermarket there are a few examples of expectations such as.

  • Does the product actually do what it is supposed to do?
  • How long does the product last?
  • Does the product fulfil the expected lifespan of such a part (different to how long)?

The third item is the most interesting one, service parts on vehicles all have a life-expectancy, some are measured in kilometres travelled and some are in hours of operation and others are in pure aging. However all of these are applied with an averaging in order to reach a commonly accepted measurement of odometer kilometres travelled.
Examples of these various distinctions are:

  • Does the filter actually remove the correct size particle, measured in microns from the air, fuel, or oil?
  • How long do brake pads last?
  • Does the shock absorber reach the accepted kilometre distance?
  • Are the tyres in excess of five years old (the max lifespan, specification)?

The conclusion is that there are a variety of reasons to always source the best possible product available from an MPEA (Motor Parts and Equipment Association) member of the RMI.
Fit for purpose brings with it another dimension. It remains a fact of life that certain things cannot be reproduced cheaply, without compromising on quality or content. The quality being the components used to formulate or produce the product and the content being the amount of material used this can be illustrated by:

  • Is the material thickness the correct dimension/gauge?
  • Is the filter medium the correct micron porosity?
  • Do the brake pads have the correct components in the friction material formula?
  • Does the gasket have sufficient compressibility?
  • Is the spring rate of the radiator cap correct for the temperature/pressure range?

Amount of material

  • Is there the correct amount of precious metal in the replacement catalytic convertor
  • Has the backing plate been made thinner than specified?
  • Is there the correct amount of filter material in the filter
  • Do the brake disc have the correct specified thickness?

There is no such thing as a good cheap products, it is pure logic. The decision remains yours to make, but more so than anything else be aware that you don’t pay the price of a quality reputable branded product for an inferior sub-standard product. Rather spend wisely at an MPEA Member dealer, where reputation counts.