Car-Auto Part Types

Car-Auto The Various Part Types

There are various part types that can be available when you look at choosing a replacement when you are doing a repair. The lack of any standard naming or disclosure conventions means that it can be confusing even for the expert. Some of the main issues that this can create are as follows:

  • Duty Cycle. (How long the part will be expected to last under normal working conditions.)
  • Quality. (How closely the part is to the standards that are required.)
  • Consistency. (How close to the same each part is.)
  • Price. (How much I should be paying for the part relative to other part types.)


Of course these factors can be acceptable sacrifices for some repair jobs, resulting in significant savings. But there can be some big unforeseen problems caused by the wrong decision. For example, safety can be compromised in ways that are unexpected.

So let’s look at the various types of parts and the names that can be used to describe them.

OEM Car Part

OEM Genuine (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
This is the part that is made by the manufacturer of the vehicle. So for example if you own a Ford Falcon BA and want a replacement headlamp assembly, it is the part that is made in a Ford manufacturing plant. It is made to the specifications, standards and tolerances that your vehicle was designed under. This means that there is an expectation that the performance of the part will be consistent with the part you are replacing on your vehicle. In recent years this part type has needed to be divided into two categories. To a large extent the auto manufacturing industry has become a global business. With most cars being made for a global market. This means that many of the parts you buy are made in another country and imported. These parts are imported by the OEM dealerships and supplied to you. The OEM Dealerships are the businesses that sell you your car with the blessing of the maker of the car. The ability to import these parts has become something that is not limited to the OEM dealerships. This has meant that a new category of part has been needed. These parts fit into the category of OEM Offshore or sometimes called the Parallel part. The important thing to remember here is that they are a genuine OEM part.

So let’s summarise

OEM Onshore Car Parts.

This is a part that is manufactured by the original equipment or vehicle maker and sold through the dealer networks.

OEM Offshore Car Parts or sometimes called the Parallel car part.

This is a part that is manufactured by the original equipment or vehicle maker and imported; then the importer directly supplies it to the market or a retail outlet. The ability for the retail consumer to buy these parts is a growing phenomenon. They have been used for some time in the ‘trade’ market, but these parts are increasingly available to anyone. The reason for the growth in their use has been driven by a higher Australian dollar along with consumer awareness of being able to buy nearly any product online and often in much more direct ways with less and less middle men.

Of course with some of the quality issues being out of the equation the potential savings on these parts has driven a lot of competition.  Dealer networks and importers are often head to head on price.

A further important term is the List Price. List price is the price that the OEM recommends that their part should be sold to the retail public for. In some cases the price gap that the part can be purchased at in the ‘trade’ market compared to the manufacturers list price can be very large. It can also vary quite significantly across makes of vehicles. This means that we should also be familiar with the Trade Price concept. The trade price is the price that a person that might repair your vehicle, can buy the part for. Why do he prices differ? The reason that a company that repairs vehicles full time for the public can buy parts at a discount rate is that they may be purchasing parts in very large amounts.  They could be buying hundreds of thousands of dollars of part, perhaps millions. The larger the buying ‘book’ generally the greater the purchasing power the buyer has. There is even cases of trade buyers being involved in buying consortiums to ensure they get the lowest possible price on their parts and consumables.  This is not unlike how a supermarket would buy their stock.

Being aware of these names and dynamics can help you buy and negotiate better prices on your parts and repairs. There have been many cases where people may have been charged full list price for their parts when they did not need to pay that amount; giving a windfall of extremely large profit to some players in the market. Thankfully there is a growing culture of provision of a ‘fair’ price, with a fair mark-up on parts. This is being driven by competition and of course ethical businesses in the repair industry.

Copy or After-Market Car Parts

There are of course other part types that can be referred to as a ‘copy’ or ‘after market’ part. This is a part that is not made by the OEM and does not conform to the OEM’s stringent standards. These parts can have the following attributes:

  • Variable duty cycles
  • Variable quality
  • Variable consistency
  • Variable price

There has always been a very large trade in these copy parts. The quality of the parts has been extremely hard to predict and often results in an inferior repair. The worst outcome can be clear compromising of the safety aspects of the repair. Of course it must be stated that some manufacturers of aftermarket parts have engineered in superior performance standards than the parts that may be supplied with your original vehicle. It is very hard to generalise and does really require research and expert advise to choose aftermarket parts. It is probably wise to be careful and make sure that the information is coming from a trusted source.

Consumable Car Parts

Good examples of parts that have many alternatives and great differences in part performance are the following:

  • Spark plugs
  • Head light globes
  • Oil / Oil filter

These types of parts are what could be classified as a consumable and you will likely need many sets of these over the life of the vehicle. In some cases there may be 4 or more options for each depending on the car you drive and its age. Due to the fact that they are a ‘fast moving’ item, the performance of these parts may be well researched and there will be a lot of history of what works well and what does not. With a small amount of research an aftermarket item may be suitable that out performs the OEM part often by a large amount. But of course there can also be cases where the aftermarket item that performs very well may be higher in price than the OEM part. This may be because they have used high quality materials and standards of manufacture.

When it comes to parts that are associated with the safety aspects of your car that may not have so much history and performance data it may be much harder to make an informed decision. It can be much better to error on the side of caution and go for the OEM parts. Understanding how an aftermarket or copy bumper bar will affect the safety of your car in a collision is the job of an expert and crash test data.

Exchange or Re-Conditioned Car Parts

A further type of part that warrants some discussion is the ‘Exchange’ or ‘Re-conditioned’ part. Once again the same 4 factors are in play:

  • Duty cycle
  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Price

This part type is very much dependant on how well the re-conditioning is done and how much reconditioning is needed. Also not all part categories are the same. Some parts lend themselves to re-conditioning and some can be much more demanding to re-condition consistently. There is no doubt that the this part category provides very good environmental benefits with energy and resources only being used to put the part back into use at an acceptable standard.

Some example categories that lend themselves to re-conditioning and exchange are the following:

  • Engines
  • Manual / Automatic Transmissions
  • Panels
  • Alternators
  • Radiators

Further information will be available on each of these part categories along with recommended suppliers that perform checks that ensure the parts are reconditioned.



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