A cheap imitation will not have the quality that a well-researched, patented product comes with. These are also backed by good service and warranty conditions.
Words by Jon Gibson.
I’m not really a watch guy, but we all have that mate who will drop an obscene amount of cash on a watch that essentially does the same thing as my old Casio G-Shock.
The likelihood of me ever owning a legit Tag or a Rolex is fairly minuscule. However, I certainly can admire the finer things, especially when they’re engineered to function like clockwork (pun intended).
I did, however, buy a cheap copy while in China a few years back that lasted all of about three days, despite the assurances of the salesman that it was in fact ‘‘same quality’’. I never did see that warranty he was going to mail out, but at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.
The feeling was like having seen your favourite band live in concert, then seeing a local pub band mutilate you favourite song, leaving it forever tarnished.
The same can be said for aftermarket parts to suit your equipment. Sure there are exceptions but essentially the same is true, you will get what you pay for. As we’re all aware, a lot of products are made in China these days due to the low cost of labour and blatant disregard for patents and trademarks.
The term ‘‘reverse engineering’’ was penned in reference to the way an existing product is replicated by an aftermarket opportunist, as opposed to the genuine product engineered to meet the needs of the application. Reverse engineering therefore is a shortcut to the podium, wherein a lot of the research and development has been bypassed, along with the lessons learned along the way. This saves time and money, but ultimately the manufacturer is there for the quick transaction, not the lasting relationship or repeat business anticipated by your OEM equipment dealer.
The aftermarket product needs to be cheaper than the genuine product or there would be no place in the market for it. With the genuine parts distribution chain already established, quick, easy access to product warranty already in place, the sheer volume of the genuine market and the buying power of the genuine factory, you’d be naive to believe a cheaper imitation would ever perform the same as the genuine article. Just like me with my Chinese Rolex, I had felt like I’d had a win but this soon passed once I was sitting on the flight home and I realised my watch had stopped.
Items such as exhaust manifolds are a common aftermarket choice because on face value they’re quite simple, with no moving parts, seals or electronics. They are, however, exposed to the most extreme temperatures and pressures in your whole powertrain, and must maintain a sealed gallery to provide maximum flow to your turbo to make boost. In order to avoid cracking, loss of performance and the resultant potential for fire, a recipe of iron, carbon and various other base metals is refined through rigorous testing, the results of which are a proprietary secret. When you put it like that, maybe genuine is in fact a better alternative.
With the downturn in mining came a reduction in parts consumption and a push for cost cuts. Component lifecycles were extended and as a result, less parts were stocked, shipped and consumed, meaning lower overheads in fewer locations were achievable. This meant that in many cases, the genuine product has become more price competitive.
There are specialised manufacturers that actually produce parts and other industrial supplies for the genuine OEMs, but as you’d expect, these high quality, non-genuine alternatives are often at a similar price point to the genuine article anyway. With so many aftermarket alternatives, it is important to know who you’re buying them off and whether or not that entity is licensed by the manufacturer to sell you that product accompanied by their warranty. This applies not only to parts, but also maintenance items such as filters and lubricants.
WHY QUALITY MATTERS
High quality aftermarket products such as Fleetguard filters and Castrol lubricants have proven their quality over many years and can therefore offer a significant warranty for added peace of mind. They don’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts, they factor a small premium into every ‘‘unit’’ they sell to cover potential claims. Naturally, they’d rather put their cash either back into product development or in the till rather than paying out warranty claims for expensive failures.
Therefore, they develop stringent conditions, upheld by a network of authorised retail outlets. Bearing in mind you’re essentially paying for this warranty every time you purchase their product, imagine your dismay in the event of a failure, when you learn that you’d paid the premium, yet not received the support you’d thought you’d bought.
Nobody likes an imposter. Once you’ve experienced the genuine article, you don’t want to go back to the pub band version anymore. Stay genuine.