The Good Scandals Are No Longer Limited to Tabloids by Jason Giacchino
It’s a simple matter of personal economics and a situation we have all faced at one point or another: OEM versus aftermarket replacement parts. For many, the decision is an easy one, especially when they find themselves in a situation where an automotive part fails and the OEM component costs triple the price of an aftermarket unit, weighs more, and has to be specially ordered through a dealer.
And it is because of these conveniences the aftermarket industry is thriving. Estimated as a $257 billion market in the United States alone, the aftermarket scene employs some 4.54 million people.
Aside from the money the auto manufacturers (OEMs) aren’t getting because of the aftermarket, it turns out that Ford, a major proponent of the OEM-only approach, has been busy producing videos in the hopes of proving to consumers that aftermarket components aren’t as safe as what’s coming out of their factories.
Before Ford’s “anti-aftermarket” campaign could gain much momentum, the aftermarket, in an unprecedented move, fired back with a video release of their own. Since the aftermarket isn’t a single organization, but rather the generic term for any parts/ accessories that are not produced by the same factories that make the cars themselves, a retaliatory move was quite unexpected. And yet that’s precisely what happened in the aftermarket’s follow-up video, which basically calls “BS” to Ford’s claims.
This video, created by the Automotive Body Parts Association, directly challenges the findings of Ford’s video experiments without relying upon slanderous tactics.
Further adding fuel to the flames of the debate is that many leading auto-supplier chains carry what is generally considered a third option to the OEM versus aftermarket debate, the OEM spec part. Many of these parts will have OEM prominently displayed followed by a qualifier such as "meets OEM standards". These parts are not genuine OEM, but rather are built to the same specifications as the OEM equivalent.
While there is no right or wrong in the debate, more choices for the consumer is rarely a bad thing. This competition ensures lower price structures. It’s been our experience that there are rare occasions where aftermarket parts are actually superior to the OEMs, thanks to solid reverse engineering, but there’s a lot of truth to the old expression that all aftermarket parts are not created equal – but all OEM parts are.