Aftermarket parts brands - Who to trust and for what.

dj_efk

A2OC Donor
Hi all,

I found this interesting article on the TDI forum focusing on aftermarket parts brands and discussing who does what. There is also a link to an old-but-good subjective assessment of various brands from a Mercedes forum.

I thought I would share - To be honest what drove me to look for this information was the revelation shared from the German forum by @bretti_kivi that Meyle track control arms may not be the best quality (LINK). This surprise me as I'd always thought Meyle as a brand were "up there".

The conclusion I have come to is this: Just because a brand is good at making one part (Meyle and drop links come to mind - and even then I understand Meyle HD are the ones to go for), do not blindly trust a brand name - seek feedback.

One brand I've come to trust implicitly in recent times is Febi / Febi-Bilstein, I wonder if I should be more on my guard and just do my research (in terms of search forums for feedback) before important purchases, where buying genuine OEM is not an option for whatever reason.

Oh and for those who think Mann filters are the ultimate, take a look at this: LINK

What do others think?
 
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audifan

A2OC Donor
It is unfortunate that manufacturers are always looking for the cheapest way to produce their parts. In some cases that cheapness equates to lower quality standards either by using inferior components or reduced quality control checks. This is true all the way through production of parts all the way up to complete cars. The day of the rock solid product is pretty much over, I doubt many current models will be around in twenty years time. Unfortunately it is even getting to the point that good names are being used on fake rubbish by copiers of the parts. Really is now a case of buyer beware.
 

Rusty911

A2OC Donor
I did a big service on my Passat a few years ago (so included full belt kit).

Despite all parts being genuine VW from TPS a) not one was made in Germany, and b) no two parts were made in the same country. On that one batch of bits:

China
Turkey
Czech Republic
Israel
Spain

Similarly I noticed my V70 had British wing mirrors but, I think, Turkish wiring.

O.K. The brand sets the quality, but even so, it's amazing how global the whole supply chain has become.

To answer the question, I've never had an issue with any of the big (hopefully) quality after-market brands. Worth questioning fitting methods and original diagnoses: bushes pre-loaded with car jacked up, turbo's fitted without finding out why original failed (oil supply / drain), wheel size and tyre pressure (over-inflation must surely make everything work harder). Wrong anti-freeze / tap water (water pumps, radiators) poorly maintained brake fluid (callipers).

All will impact on the life of a replacement part. Well, you see what I mean: I'm not suggesting a drop link has failed due to a poor turbo oil feed 🙂

Even so, the Mann filters is interesting. I know Euro's are hoovering up a lot of previously reliable brands and rumour has it, cheapening them down.

All I do, even so, is use Euro's and ask for their top brand for that application.
 
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Rusty911

A2OC Donor
It is unfortunate that manufacturers are always looking for the cheapest way to produce their parts. In some cases that cheapness equates to lower quality standards either by using inferior components or reduced quality control checks. This is true all the way through production of parts all the way up to complete cars. The day of the rock solid product is pretty much over, I doubt many current models will be around in twenty years time. Unfortunately it is even getting to the point that good names are being used on fake rubbish by copiers of the parts. Really is now a case of buyer beware.
I'm not sure I agree: aftermarket parts used to be of shockingly poor quality. My experience is that unless you go for the very cheapest parts, it's incredibly rare for a good OEM part to fail. I mean, I'm sure I've literally never had it.

The way modern pattern parts fit is just incredible: I remember having to ease the holes on cheap water pumps back in the day, they were that bad.

The other thing that has improved beyond belief is accuracy of supply: just give a reg number and odds are pretty good you'll get the right bit.

When I was first doing cars 28 years ago the factors would say 'there's a choice of three' and then supply three versions, all wrong. Yes, even now there's the odd mistake but it's better than its ever been.

Finally, this stuff has never been cheaper in real terms. You can buy significant bits of car in exchange for a day's wages.

So, would I want to wind the clock back 30 years in this regard? Absolutely no way. Aftermarket parts were of poorer quality and expensive: we just didn't hear about the failures as we weren't all online.
 

johnyfartbox

A2OC Donor
And unfortunately it's not just car parts, everything from a screw to a major component in a life saving machine will be subject to costings.
Obviously if one is prepared to pay top dollar for something then you will in all probability get a component that is up to a very high standard.
The subject of the pressure washers on here is a good example.
Even the steel that is used in construction is now substandard compared to steel used 20 /30 years ago.
Example, back when I worked in the roller shutter door industry we always complained about the duff drill bits they provided then suddenly they were great, but we found out that they were the same and it was the steel that was softer, this was from the same supplier but they never said anything but charged the same price.
I've come to the conclusion that all these skyscrapers being built now will have substandard steel girders, nuts and bolts and such.
 

audifan

A2OC Donor
Personally I have had problems with thermostats, brake light switches and suspension mounts. All from the better names but not going to slag them off as they could have been from bad batches and others perfectly suitable. So what do we do? We check the parts as much as possible, we compare them to what is fitted, we stick to the better brands and lastly we hope that the built down to a budget and quality control still made a fully working and durable part. Just look at the Boeing 737 max.....
 

gills

A2OC Donor
Just look at the Boeing 737 max.....
Ironically the most serious Max problems were due to poor software and proceedures (admittedly the software problems were triggered by a h/w failure, but there were 2 sensors, it was just the software only took readings from one of them). If anything, you could argue that aircraft are getting too reliable and pilots are now less used to dealing with problems, as in the Air France flight 447 crash. Perhaps a warning for us all as cars become more autonomous?
 

audifan

A2OC Donor
Being in the aircraft industry 40 years I will never argue aircraft are getting too reliable. My job is to make sure they are reliable. Far more involved with the 737 max incidents. Bit like the Concorde crash debacle.
Aircraft industry is plagued with counterfeit and poor quality parts.
 

philward

A2OC Donor
You just can’t tell what you are going to get but if a brand delivers I stick with it. Febi have in general been good and their TDi chain kit is genuine VAG. TRW are Lemforder with the branding removed. This is a good one bought a cheap Van Wezel radiator and condenser for my A2, both arrived branded Serck 👍
 

spike

Well-Known Member
Long ago I worked for a commercial diesel engine company and one of our suppliers of alternator belts also made Audi OE timing belts. I asked about aftermarket equivalents and they indicated they are not always to the same spec. For example , during engine development Audi may tweak the belt construction to match engine characteristics and optimise life etc. That 'recipe' would be owned by Audi so the aftermarket version would not be identical.
Similar situation applied to our filter supplier where the canister could look identical but the pleated element within (the expensive bit) may not be to the same spec as the OE part.
Most aftermarket parts sell on price so if you don't expect the same quality you won't be disappointed. As we know the occasional part bucks the trend and can be both cheaper and better than OE

Cheers Spike
 
Hi all,

I found this interesting article on the TDI forum focusing on aftermarket parts brands and discussing who does what. There is also a link to an old-but-good subjective assessment of various brands from a Mercedes forum.

I thought I would share - To be honest what drove me to look for this information was the revelation shared from the German forum by @bretti_kivi that Meyle track control arms may not be the best quality (LINK). This surprise me as I'd always thought Meyle as a brand were "up there".

The conclusion I have come to is this: Just because a brand is good at making one part (Meyle and drop links come to mind - and even then I understand Meyle HD are the ones to go for), do not blindly trust a brand name - seek feedback.

One brand I've come to trust implicitly in recent times is Febi / Febi-Bilstein, I wonder if I should be more on my guard and just do my research (in terms of search forums for feedback) before important purchases, where buying genuine OEM is not an option for whatever reason.

Oh and for those who think Mann filters are the ultimate, take a look at this: LINK

What do others think?
Well within last 6 months I fitted meyle cast control arms on one of our a2 tdi i also have a new set of lemforder for petrol a2 sat under bench quality looked no different inc ball joint ...unless meyle source from different manufactures and that was a bad batch .. I can only speak as I find ..oh and the petrol ones are for sale if anyone needs a set bagged ..I’ve put in the sale section ..
 

Un4tural

Member
Personally if it is something that potentially can kill me or cost me more in the long run (and if it matters) i do my research and go for the quality parts (brakes/brake pads/belts/some sensors) but if it is something i know will get replaced shortly after, wont be used for long and quality generally isn't as important (hoses/filters normally, depends for the most part) just go to cesspool of knock off bits that is eBay and get a set of febi knockoffs, though there are plenty genuine sellers too.

A lot comes to seller reputation too, some will likely pay more attention to where they source the parts than others. It is probably not a rule but stuff i had from eurocarparts seems to be about what i'd expect, with eBay sellers, there are ones where seem to be helpful and courteous if part is not genuine and some who either bicker and try to argue it is OEM, even though it is quite obviously not even close or just quietly issue a refund in what i assume is calculated risk in people who just go for the cheapest and do not care too much or know the difference.


new A6 just had a recall for alternator fire risks, new materials/cost savings etc. but the thing looks like a child's toy with the plastic housing...

I am no expect by any means, but there's probably a reason my grandpa's tools from the 70s/80s are still churning along with frequent use and minimal maintenance where new plastic fantastic seem to be destined for the bin after 5 years.
 

Rusty911

A2OC Donor
I am no expect by any means, but there's probably a reason my grandpa's tools from the 70s/80s are still churning along with frequent use and minimal maintenance where new plastic fantastic seem to be destined for the bin after 5 years.
Yes, but your Grandpa would have worked long hours and saved hard for those tools. They would have represented days or weeks of pay. They'd have been cherished because of this.

These days tools take minutes or hours of labour time to earn. Look at a Bahco FineCut saw as an example: less than a tenner, and yet a very good saw. At my workshop rate, that's not even fifteen minutes to buy. At little above the Living Wage, it's still barely an hour. Think how we'd treat that saw if it had cost us £100, or £200 (still a fraction of a week's wages).

You have to compare like with like, after all this conversation was based on pattern parts: well, straight away the fact you (I, we) use pattern parts already says 'I don't want to pay OE price'. The tool equivalent would be not buying a set of four Faithfull files for (I'm guessing) £20, but one Bahco or Nicholson for similar money. Even then, I bet the inflation adjusted price of that would be less than the 1970's price of an equally high quality product. Nevertheless, we don't 'have' to buy cheap things: there is always a premium version out there somewhere. What happens? We look at it, see the price is multiples that of a perfectly adequate cheap substitute and generally say 'I'm not paying that'.

Another one I like is mowers: look at ads from the 1950's: mowers would have represented a serious lump of investment. The sort of thing that would have been saved and saved for, or perhaps been a wedding gift. Now, the average week's wage would buy a pretty decent one, or several cheap ones. A couple of week's wages would get you something really good. Stuff is cheap: really cheap. We don't know how lucky we are.
 
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