3 Reasons You Should Buy Branded Car Parts

Rowan Benn
By Rowan Benn

The Kenyan Motor Industry Association (KMI) estimates that the average age of vehicles in Kenya is 15 years old. With the average age of a car in Kenya now double the global average, sourcing parts can be tricky – particularly for older models. The cost and availability of parts is a big issue and, of course as car owners, who doesn’t want to keep their costs down when carrying out essential repairs. (Monthly Motor - Jan 2017)

If you need parts for your car, you generally have two choices available to you. You can buy 'original equipment manufacturer' (OEM) parts - these are manufactured by car makers - or you can choose 'aftermarket' parts which are made by other suppliers.

While aftermarket parts may be cheaper to buy, the fact they are what the industry calls 'non-genuine' parts can mean they are less reliable than OEM parts. So what should you do? Our guide looks at both branded and aftermarket parts, and highlights three reasons why branded car parts may be the better choice.

What are 'branded' or OEM car parts?

Vehicle manufacturers and dealerships often boast that the parts that they use are 'genuine'. Genuine OEM parts are made by the same factory that makes the parts used on the car's assembly line, meaning that every tiny component was made in the same way as the original.

Because these parts are exactly the same as those used to manufacture the car, they match the thickness, strength, size and quality of the original component.

OEM parts are fully authorised by the manufacturer as 'genuine', signalling they are the same as those originally used on your vehicle. They are often branded with the manufacturer and you benefit from the peace of mind of buying a part from a reputable brand.

What are 'aftermarket' parts?

An aftermarket part is any part for a vehicle that is not sourced from the car's maker. They are designed to match the manufacturer's specifications when it comes to size, performance and appearance, but they were not designed to be used in the original manufacture of your vehicle.

Lots of companies now make parts designed to resemble OEM parts and function the same. Some are of a superior quality and can perform as well as genuine parts, while many others are cheap and ineffective.

Why knowing the difference between OEM and aftermarket parts is important

Knowing the key differences between genuine and non-genuine parts is important. While sourcing cheap parts might seem appealing you could be buying poor quality, ineffective and potentially dangerous components for your vehicle.

In addition, cheaper parts may have been sourced fraudulently or, in some cases, could even be fake.

While there are some good quality aftermarket parts available, if you want to be sure that you benefit from good quality components, it can pay to buy branded/OEM parts. Here are three reasons why.

  1. They are often more reliable

When buying car parts, you generally get what you pay for. Cheap, non-branded products can often have a very short life span, meaning you could end up replacing a part again and again. As the saying goes: 'buy cheap, buy twice'.

When you buy a branded/OEM part, you can be sure that your new part will work just as your old one did. As they are approved by the manufacturer, you know that they are fit for purpose and you can be confident that you know exactly what you are buying.

One of the other main advantages of buying reliable, branded vehicle parts is that they typically come with a good warranty. Most OEM parts come with a warranty as standard, and this means that you have the peace of mind that if something were to go wrong, your part would be replaced free of charge. You have the backing of a well-known manufacturer if anything goes wrong.

Many aftermarket parts have a shorter warranty or, in many cases, no warranty at all.

If your car is newer, then it is often a good idea to ensure you use genuine parts. This can help you to maintain the resale value of your vehicle and it can help with your warranty. Some dealers and vehicle manufacturers do have the right to deny a warranty repair if they can demonstrate that an aftermarket part caused the problem.

2. They are safer

There are lots of aftermarket vehicle parts available in the marketplace. It may seem appealing to save money by buying cheaper, non-branded options and it is true that OEM parts are often (but not always) more expensive than aftermarket products.

However, buying cheap parts could mean that you are fitting a poor quality component to your car. Not only could you encounter problems within a few weeks or months, but poor quality parts may also pose a safety risk, not just to the car but to you as well.

If you don't know who the supplier is, or where the parts came from, then there is a chance that you could be fitting a dangerous or poor quality part in your vehicle. Non-branded products are generally unpopular with car repair professionals as they simply don't know where they have come from or how reliable they are.

Here's an example: If you need replacement parts after an accident, it can be a good idea to request OEM parts instead of aftermarket parts. Genuine parts, such as body panels, will fit better on the frame of your vehicle. In addition, you benefit from the comfort of knowing that the OEM parts are properly tested and manufactured with crumple zones for crash safety in the event of another collision.

3. They can be supplied more quickly

Main dealers in Kenya can have a limited supply of their parts; even for the most popular makes and models. This can mean that your car can be off the road for weeks or even months when you need a replacement part or repair.

This frustration is unnecessary and can be avoided simply be importing a genuine part from overseas. Sourcing a replacement component can from a legitimate supplier the UK or Dubai can reduce your waiting time to 1 or 2 days.

What this means is that it is often cheaper and quicker to have your genuine parts sent from the UK. A reputable UK supplier can help you to get the right part for your vehicle and ship it to you the same day you call them. Even when you factor in the shipping and duty, importing a good quality genuine part:

  • can cost less than sourcing a part locally
  • can mean your vehicle is repaired faster, meaning you are back on the road more quickly
  • offers the safety and reliability of a manufacturer's part

Overall, the key message when choosing car parts is 'do your homework'. Take time to look at all your choices and make sure you trust the components and the repair centre you are using. Choosing the cheapest option could cost you more in the long run.

When MHH sell cars, we are happy to provide advice on the best suppliers and fitters locally who will carry out high quality servicing and supply you with genuine, branded parts.