Next to your home, your car is probably your biggest asset. Yet when finances are tight, it’s often the car that gets short-changed, with knock-off replacement parts and a cheap and cheerful service.
While it may be tempting to skimp on these expenses, GMSA insists that such budgeting is “penny wise but pound foolish” and could cost you heavily in the long run.
When counted down to the last screw, your car is made up of about 30 000 individual pieces. Intensive research, engineering development and rigorous testing has gone into each part — and it is only through integration and validation testing that the bits finally come together to create a robust vehicle.
“Stick in an outsider part, and you jeopardise the integration and functionality of the whole vehicle,” explains Llewellyn van Antwerpen, GMSA senior manager, aftersales.
“Non-OEM [original equipment manufacturer] parts might look the same as the original, but they are not created equal. There is no way of knowing how they will perform. That’s a risk that could affect the safety of the vehicle and its occupants, jeopardise the validity of your warranty, as well as the performance and life span of the vehicle — not to mention the expensive consequences should major components fail.”
Why are the alternative parts frequently cheaper than OEM parts? Van Antwerpen says they wouldn’t be if they were engineered, tested and certified to OEM specifications.
“There is a cost to the engineering and stringent testing that ensures each part operates optimally and is perfectly integrated with other OEM parts. The knock-offs are usually simple copies, often of low-grade materials, with no quality testing to ensure performance.”
How do you know whether a service centre or panel beater is using acceptable replacement parts? Is it okay to send your vehicle to the mechanic around the corner for its service?
Van Antwerpen says that while some motorists may shun their car’s dealer or approved centres because they assume an independent garage will be cheaper, a little homework might prove them wrong. Routine servicing at your dealership is often just as competitive and it’s important to check whether the independent’s use of non-OEM parts isn’t partly responsible for price disparities.
“Customers can only be assured of having genuine parts fitted by servicing and repairing their vehicle at a manufacturer-approved dealership or body repairer. Additionally, all approved service and repair work is carried out by trained technicians, using specialist diagnostic equipment and tools. With increasingly advanced levels of technology in today’s vehicles, the special tools and access to technical information and training require a substantial investment — and one that only a manufacturer-approved service provider is willing to make regularly. Nobody knows your vehicle better than these trained professionals,” he says.
“The corner dent guy offers no guarantees that repairs are to manufacturer standards.”
Franchised dealers are able to conduct investigative vehicle health checks, which highlight any recall campaigns.
“You get what you pay for,” he says. “I can’t understand why anyone would put the safety of their family and the value of their expensive asset at risk.” – Motor News Reporter