OEM vs Aftermarket: Are Auto Parts Created Equal?

Being in the aftermarket auto parts bizzz, I often find myself verbally battling with guys that are hardcore OEM auto parts only.  They usually say “I only buy OEM auto parts because “aftermarket stuff” never fits, works, lasts, etc.”  They usually have an example of a part that they bought from a local auto part store that didn’t work out for them for whatever reason.  Fair enough, we’ve all been there.  Now, I have absolutely no problem with OEM parts by any means.  In fact, before working for 1A Auto, I was a technician at a Cadillac dealer using all OEM parts.  Needless to say, I’m quite familiar with a wide range of auto parts.  Do bad OEM parts exist?  Absolutely! (Just ask anybody that has owned a Cadillac Catera (Sorry, I had to…))  Do bad aftermarket auto parts exist?  Absolutely.  However, not all auto parts are created equal. So let’s talk about it.

We’ll start our examples with a company that does really exist and everybody knows of them because they make absolutely fantastic suspension products.  I’m leaving the name out because the auto parts that they build are more relevant than their name.  For now, let’s call them “Company X”.   Now, the way I understand it, about 50% of the suspension parts that Company X produces are OEM parts for brand new cars.   Naturally, they also produce extra’s for the car dealer’s to stock in their parts departments.  It would be in an OEM brand name box, but it is actually built by Company X.  When the OEM’s need a part produced, Company X  is given specs by the vehicle manufactures and as you may guess, they build these auto parts to the exact specifications that they are given.  The OEM engineers really only need these parts to last as long as the car’s suspension warranty, without compromising safety or their own brand name in the process.  All the parts function as they are designed to, but long term, some parts are better than others.

The other 50% of the auto parts that Company X produces are what I call “high quality aftermarket auto parts”. They are Company X’s aftermarket brand, built to their own specs, which are vastly improved over the OEM parts (if they need to be).  They find the faults of the original designs and they correct them for their aftermarket brand because Company X wants them to last forever.  Everything is greaseable (as suspension parts should be), and engineered to be better than the OEM’s originally wanted. It may be a visible change in the look, or it may look identical and be internally changed. In some cases the OEM part doesn’t need to be improved upon, and the high quality aftermarket part brand is the same exact part as OEM but without the part numbers marked on them.

On the other hand, there are the cheaper options available out there which I call “low quality aftermarket auto parts”. These are typically the ones that can give “aftermarket parts” as a whole a bad name.  The reason that they are the cheapest price is because they are the cheapest to produce.  Being the cheapest to produce rarely equals the highest quality.  The unfortunate truth to these parts is that you don’t really know if this is the part that you are buying until you attempt to attach it to your car. Before long, you need torches and welders to make it fit, and you need a new one in a few weeks.

Now you can’t talk about OEM vs Aftermarket auto parts without talking about price.  Here’s the way it works.  Since the average consumer can only buy OEM parts through car dealers,  the dealers can charge a premium.  There is typically minimal price differences between dealers because their doesn’t need to be.  They control the flow of OEM parts.  Aftermarket parts are different because you can have multiple manufacturers of similar products.  You can count on all of them being priced less than an OEM part from a dealer, but the quality can vary greatly.  High quality aftermarket parts are priced far less than the dealer, but sold from a variety of different outlets which means competition and a super high quality part at a competitive price.  Then there are the cheap (and I do mean cheap) low quality aftermarket parts.  They will be priced the lowest, and may or may not be what you want when you open the box. “EEEK! What is that!?”

So although my opinion may appear to biased because of my position, I’ll give it to you anyway.  I prefer the high quality aftermarket parts over OEM because I know what goes into them, and the price is right of course.  Want more? Ok, fine. Recently I installed some new ignition coils in my wife’s RX8 as a general maintenance procedure.  I took a few pictures for OEM vs aftermarket comparisons.  The new ones were perfect in  every way, and the RX8 is happier than ever.  (OEM’s are on the left side of the picture, and the 1A Auto coils are on the right.)

Today’s Crazy Idea: Turn 1960′s Metal Into 1930′s Metal.

If you have been following the 1A Auto Nutt’s and Bolts blog, you have no doubt seen the pictures of the 60 Pontiac Ventura rot box that is waiting patiently awaiting some love in my garage.  If you are sick of hearing about it, I’m sorry, but it is weighing on my brain, and I need to get my thoughts straightened out.  So yea, I have spent a lot of time recently trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with it.  It definitely doesn’t make sense financially to restore it back to original, because you can easily find clean drivable examples for sale for less money than it would be to restore this (and that doesn’t include my 1000+ hours of my “free” labor.)  That fact has definitely been established.

So my latest wild and crazy idea is to turn it into a 1930′s style hot rod. (Disclosure: Yes, I was somewhat inspired from Gary Campesi’s paintings from the other day.)  Anyway, I would do this by cutting it up and shrinking the body into a 2 seater, almost like a T-bucket but with all the sexy 1960′s body lines.  Then I would drop it on a home made chassis and suspension. I’d probably power it with something more modern like a 4G64, L92, 2JZ, or maybe a KA24DET. No matter which I choose, it would be backed by a manual transmission, because that’s how I roll.  Wrap some giant brakes and big wheels around the whole thing, and I feel like it could be pretty slick.  Other than the injected engine, I would keep everything super simple, no crazy options.  Just simplistic beauty.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything similar on the internet (imagine that?), but these four pictures are the closest to the idea itself.  Obviously none are 1960 Pontiac’s, but…. well…. you get the idea…

So what do you think? Stupid? Awesome? or just plain “no”?

Picture Credit:

Willys: http://randyellisdesign.com/photo-gallery/custom-fabrication/willys-hot-rod/

Gary’s amazing art : http://www.hubgarage.com/mygarage/GaryC/vehicles

Monday: S10 Xtreme LS6 T-56 Burnout FYE.

Watching a gross display of horsepower is probably the only thing better than the actual act of building a vehicle with such mouth watering abilities.  Today I bring to you a 1999 Chevy S10 Xtreme with a 2003 Corvette Z06 LS6 hiding under the hood.  Hanging off the back of the all aluminum V8 is a T-56 6-speed manual transmission that sends power out to the 275/40/17′s.   This really is a great way to start a Monday. Maybe every monday will begin with a burnout video…. hmmmm.

Picture Credit = “LowSub” @ S10forum.com:

http://www.s10forum.com/forum/f213/xtreme-ls6-take-2-a-435759/

Throw Out Bearing Says: “Not Agaaaaain!”

When you build a car from a bunch of parts that were not intended to play nicely together, sometimes you end up breaking some random stuff.  Normal people don’t have these issues.  Unfortunately… hm…  no….. fortunately in my world, this kind of issue is the norm.  This past weekend my brother in law and I had a hoot of a time pulling the transmission out of his 2nd generation FC RX7 because the throw out bearing had exploded in grand fashion.

In a serious tone, you say:Jeremy, this is not normal! What is the meaning of this?!
To which I proudly respond:Truer words have never been spoken!….. but alas! He has a 3rd generation, FD twin turbo engine swap producing mucho POWAH!
You then cover your ears with your hands and shout:Oh My!

Back to reality…. where were we?  Oh yeah, so the car was built quite some time ago, and then recently sat untouched for a few years outside in the awful New England weather (sadface), which we are thinking maaaaaay have been a contributor to the bearing failure.

To sum it all up:  Throw Out Bearings can make the Best Day Evaaaaaar! into the Worst Day Evah!!! in the blink of an eye.  Use the picture above to easily determine which day you may be having.

No More Excuses! I Think?

 

Finally.  When I was 15, I bought a 1964 Chevy Impala convertible (my dream car), which you may have read about HERE.  Because of it’s sad state of disrepair, I immediately started a body off restoration when it rolled off a flatbed and into my parents driveway.  Much to my chagrin, it has never made much progress because of x, y, and z, but mostly because of its full time outdoor storage.  Everybody that I know hassles me about it not being done yet because I thought I would be driving it to the junior prom (nope), then senior prom (nope), college graduation (nope), 5 year high school reunion (nope), wedding day (nope), 10 year HS reunion (nope)…… Well..yea….it still isn’t done.  However, over the course of this extremely short feeling summer, I built myself a garage to play in.  Last night, I finally got all the garage doors attached properly, and » Continue reading more of this post…

UPDATE: AWD Mitsubishi Turbo Dune Buggy!

Back in August we had and entire week of amazing automotive projects, and many readers asked for updates as they progressed. Since 1A Auto never disappoints, and Don never stops working on this thing, we bring you Round 2 of the AWD Mitsubishi Turbo Dune Buggy (See Round 1 Here if you missed it).  Since the first 1A Auto blog post, I have gotten to know Don a bit, and he is one of the most creative and resourceful builders I have seen.  There are not enough thumbs on my hands to give him the amount of “thumbs up” that he deserves!  Keep up the great work!

As you can see:

- Many many hours of fiberglass work has been done
- Body mounts have been made
- Front bumper installed
- Strut braces have been made
- Radiator and mounted
- New tires and wheels!

I Decided to Upgrade the Brakes on My Truck.

Hi,
I recently decided that I hated the stock brakes on my 1989 Dodge Ram 50.  (It also has a 4G63 turbo engine, custom blah blah…..etc. )  Anyway, a friend of mine gave me four super low mileage calipers and rotors for a early 2000′s Dodge Viper, so I knew what I had to do.
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/viperbrakes4.jpg[/img]
I started by buying a Dodge Viper master cylinder, and making an adapter to go from Viper master to Ram 50 booster…..
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/brakeadapterblock.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/brakeadapter3.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/brakeadapter2.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/brakeadapter.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/brakeadapter1.jpg[/img]
I then realized that the 13″ front Viper rotors were just not going to work out because their depth was too deep, and hit the spindle.  Soooooo I did some researching and end up with cross drilled and slotted Cadillac CTS-V 14″ rotors.  They fit much better.
Now that I had the “right” rotors, it was time to make some Viper front caliper > Dodge Ram 50 spindle brackets.
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/brakecaliperadapters.jpg[/img]
Test fitted on the truck
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/viperctsvbrakes.jpg[/img]
My 17″ wheels no longer fit, so I got some 18″ x 8 Escalade wheels, bored out the centers and did more test fitting.
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/viperbrakes6.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/viperbrakes7.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/viperbrakes8.jpg[/img]
At some point, I made the rear caliper brackets & brake lines.  I apparently didn’t take pictures of that.  I used the 13″ Viper rear rotors (I used to have like 10″ drums), and Viper calipers.  I even hooked up my e-brake so it works properly.
Once together, I decided that black wheels are way more rad than silver, so black wheel paint was added (don’t mind how dirty the wheels/truck are).
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/wheelsontruck3.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/wheelsontruck4.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/wheelsontruck5.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.hotrodcoffeeshop.com/images/89d50/wheelsontruck6.jpg[/img]
Ta-da. Now I can stop fast enough that my tongue sticks out.
-Jeremy

At The 1AAuto Car Show!

I recently decided that I hated the stock brakes on my 1989 Dodge Ram 50.  In the 4 + years that I have owned the truck, they have never been quite right.  Rather than putting time, effort, and money into the stock brakes, I decided to do a little bit of an upgrade.  A good friend of mine gave me four super low mileage calipers and rotors from a early 2000′s Dodge Viper, so I really had no choice with what to do with them.  One way or another, I was going to get them onto my truck.

I began the swap by purchasing a 2008 Dodge Viper master cylinder and designed a way to mate it to my truck’s brake booster.  Then I had my brother in law build the adapter with his absolutely amazing machining skills.  While he was working hard, I provided the moral support, entertaining banter, a delicious meal, and beverages.   After a few hours and some serious mathematics, the adapter was complete.

I then started working on the front brake setup, and it was not looking good.  The front Viper rotors were going to hit the tie rod ends.  There was no way that the Viper rotors were going to work. So, the research ensued.  I measured the night away and decided what the perfect size rotor would be.  It turns out that 14″ Cadillac CTS-V rotors were what I need. Overkill much? A short time passed and I was the proud owner of cross drilled and slotted CTS-V rotors.  They were massive, so massive that I began questioning my own sanity.  Ah well, too late. I began fitting them on the truck and all was looking well.  I just needed to bore out the center of the rotor and redrill the mounting holes.  Back up to my brother in laws I went….  Food, drink, entertaining banter, and machining happened. Viola!  The rotors were now a bolt on affair.

Next up was caliper brackets.  There were a bit on the tricky side to make, luckily I was good in geometry class, and I had a brother in law that wasn’t sick of me yet.  You know how it goes, food, banter, drink, caliper brackets = done.

The rear brakes were a little tricky because I needed to hook the emergency brake cables into the Viper calipers.  Amazingly, with a little drilling and reworking of caliper brackets, it all fell into place.  It was as if this was all meant to be.  With more braking, I knew I needed more rubber on the road, so I also upgraded my wheels and tires to 18″ Cadillac Escalade wheels with 255/45/18 inch Z rated tires.

Naturally, the obvious question comes next…. Do they actually work? You bet they do.  I can now stop fast enough to make my tongue stick out.  I’m not sure if I can stop as well as a Viper (maybe better? gasp!), but this big brake upgrade has vastly exceeded all of my expectations.  The feel of the pedal is at least 4000x better, and the added weight on each corner actually makes the truck feel more stable.  I can’t explain it, it just is what it is.  Accept it.

Page 8 of 14« First...678910...Last »