My aftermarket background has centered primarily within the Brake, Chassis, and Filtration categories.
I’m very proud to say that every brand I’ve represented have been products considered to be of the highest quality the industry has to offer. On the downside however, I also witnessed enormous increases in demand for lower cost solutions in each of those product categories, all vital to the aftermarket. As a result of the multitude of lower cost options, we’re now facing a dramatic increase in warranty claims, constant and chronic complaints about performance, and total confusion for the ASP about how to address consumer frustration when ‘the job’ comes back to the shop because of noise, performance or life.
All about brakes…
For example, let’s talk about the brake category. Lately there have been a number of articles written about changes in the brake industry, particularly about manufacturers developing products that will eliminate noise, increase performance, provide extended life and, at the same time, be price sensitive. Over and above those assumptions, the brake manufacturers are under constant scrutiny on the environmental front to ensure the components within the brake system do not pose a threat to the environment and/or the safety of the vehicle’s ability to perform appropriately.
What a conundrum! We’re being told to eliminate anything in the manufacturing process that could be harmful to the environment; while insuring the finished product meets OE Standards; that these products are completely quiet and, oh yes… insure that while the products meet all these conditions that they aren’t too expensive. This is a very tall order! To make this more confusing… there are no government controls in place today to mandate any standards for these attributes and no enforcement to ensure the multitude of brake suppliers are compliant with these demands.
I’m happy to report to you that, a very small number of manufacturers that support our aftermarket have been able to adhere to all of these requests and demands. In order to accomplish these benchmarks, these manufacturers have had to invest enormous amounts of revenue in Research and Development and subsequently, enormous investment in ‘on vehicle’ testing to again, ensure their products can meet FMVSS standards.
No government mandated compliance standards
Because there are no government mandated compliance standards however, any manufacturer who wants to provide product similar in application specifics dimensionally, can sell their products in North America and at a price that’s substantially lower than many of the companies who invested in R&D and Vehicle Testing. Typically, their price is lower as they don’t have the burden of R&D and Vehicle Testing and are simply reverse engineering the product based on dimensions, not metallurgical content. So—the old adage—you get what you pay for. When all’s said and done, if the component is significantly less expensive than the National Brand you’ve been accustomed to, there’s probably something missing. That missing component could be poor performance, less life, and most importantly to the North American consumer, more noise!
So in the spirit of Doing it Right the First Time, in reducing Come Backs and Warranty, and in generating ultimate loyalty with your clients, buy premium national brands—they have your interests close to heart.