Why you shouldn’t believe that aftermarket gear is bad…
There’s a bit of a fight brewing in the Australian parts and accessories scene, between the genuine and aftermarket parts worlds. There are campaigns going out, and stongly-worded letters being penned. We’ve had a good look at the issue, and we have separated the facts from the spin.
The problem with fake gear
There is a particular problem that needs to be highlighted here: Fake ‘genuine’ parts. Consumables like filters and repair kits are subject to counterfeits and fakes. Like that Rolex you bought on Kuta beach with the warranty in the mail, the fake gear looks and feels like the genuine article.
Fake genuine parts are a serious problem that consumers need to be aware of. This load of Toyota branded gear was all counterfeit.
How do you tell if it’s fake or not? More often than not, it’s the price. Genuine branded gear is almost always going to be the most expensive option; so that old adage should be adhered to: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Another thing to look at is where you’re buying it from. Dodgy Mick’s eBay store might stock genuinely genuine stuff, but it also might not. If you love to only use OEM stuff, you’re best off buying through dealerships and reputable resellers.
Fake gear is rubbish, and could lead to expensive ramifications for an otherwise oblivious user. That oil filter could be just full of cotton wool, for all you know. In this situation it’s pretty clear-cut. Avoid dodgy fake gear at all costs.
But there’s a problem with all of this. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has now kicked off a ‘Genuine is Best’ campaign – telling the public that genuine gear, sourced only through approved sellers, is your only option for parts, accessories and kits. Rather than just attacking dodgy counterfeit gear, its message goes out against anything that isn’t a genuine product.
The aftermarket fight-back: Fake news!
The aftermarket scene isn’t terribly happy with this situation, and the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) is rallying against the manufacturers’ ‘genuine’ campaign. It’s a war on two fronts: Bolt-on accessories, and service and repair parts.
The AAAA wants to highlight the difference between counterfeit gear and aftermarket gear, and the potentially underhanded tactics that vehicle-manufacturing mobs are using to convince end users that ‘genuine’ is the only way.
Who really builds the gear, anyway?
Imagine if a car was a cake, and a vehicle manufacturer was a baker. No baker I know heads out to the paddock, harvests a heap of wheat and mills it into flour. They buy the bag of flour, ready to go. The same goes for the chocolate, the icing and the eggs. They buy it all in, and then assemble and bake the cake.
Australia is home to a vibrant and world-respected aftermarket scene. We research, develop, design, manufacture and test some of the best gear in the world.
Vehicle manufacturers are kind of the same as an enthusiastic baker. Sure, they make some stuff for the vehicle from scratch, but they also buy in a lot of other gear from other mobs. Have a look around under the bonnet of your car, and you’ll surely start finding names of tonnes of different companies. It’s the same deal for accessories and consumables.
Instead of spending tonnes of money researching, developing and producing a fuel filter, a manufacturer will simply commission a fuel filter company to supply branded units built to a minimum spec. The same thing goes for bullbars, roof racks and towbars. In other words, the aftermarket builds a majority of the ‘genuine’ accessories.
What do we think? Focus on quality!
There is definitely crap aftermarket and flat-out fake rubbish gear out there. But simply buying ‘genuine’ is not the best answer. Smart buyers will focus on quality and do their research before putting down any dosh.
More often than not, genuine gear is significantly more expensive than aftermarket gear. And the bare-naked truth is that the only difference between a genuine item and a quality aftermarket option is (often) the absence of a manufacturer’s logo.
The price is wrong
Buy your gear based on its apparent quality and reputation, and don’t be afraid to shop around. Do some research, ask hard questions and make your own conclusions. If you’re using your vehicle in a certain way or in certain environments, buy gear for your vehicle that suits it.
At the same time, don’t get tricked into buying the cheapest gear out there – especially if it’s going to be something you’ll need to depend upon at some stage. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some of the cheap aftermarket gear out there isn’t worth pissing on.
Genuine is your only option for quality suspension components? Umm, try again sweetie.
You can’t tar the whole aftermarket scene with the same brush of fear. There is so much gear out there that meets or exceeds the quality of ‘genuine’, and it pretty much all costs less as well. Yes, there is rubbish out there… but the smart buyer can avoid this by being cluey about it.
At the end of the day, an educated and researched buyer is a smart buyer. Do your due diligence.
Stand up for your rights
Don’t forget that anything you purchase in this country these days is covered by our very comprehensive Australian Consumer Law. Most notably, the ‘fit for purpose’ clause is one you can pay attention to. Put simply, any product (or service) purchased must be able to do what it said on the box, and be free from defects. If it isn’t, the buyer has the right for recourse and compensation from the seller. And you can contact the ACCC, who will go in to bat for you.
Most products sold in Australia adhere to specific Australian Standards, which maintain a baseline for quality, performance, longevity and safety. Sometimes these codes are compulsory; sometimes they are voluntary. Regardless, any manufacturer of gear worth their salt will aim to meet or exceed these standards – so find out if they do or not.
Like any other companies, vehicle manufacturers have one simple goal: To make more money. They’re running a bit of a scare campaign, with that simple goal front and centre. It’s important to take what they’re saying with a grain of salt. There’s nothing wrong with genuine gear, but it’s important to know that it’s not your only option.
Pub Ammo – Some Facts
- 98% of car parts are not made by the manufacturer.
- 70% of the AAAA are OE suppliers.
- Australia accounts for less than 1% of global turnover of automotive parts.
- The vast majority of the Australian parts market runs through big, established companies like Repco and Bursons.
- Only a few manufacturers have casting and fabricating abilities in Australia; almost all accessories are manufactured by the aftermarket industry on behalf of the manufacturers
- Does using non-genuine parts or accessories void the warranty of your new vehicle? No.
Buying parts? Arm yourself with the right knowledge…
Genuine: Parts branded and supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. Usually the most expensive option.
OEM equivalent: Original Equipment Manufacturer. Branded by the manufacturer of the part, not the manufacturer of the vehicle. It’s the exact same part as the genuine option, without the branding and the box. Cheaper, too.
Aftermarket: Parts made by a separate, independent company. These vary from better, equal and worse in quality and value – depending on who makes them.