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1. All parts are created equal.

“Just because a [part] looks the same as a genuine part does not mean it’s the same quality,” says Amy Kartch, director of North American Vehicle Group Aftermarket, Eaton. “Fit and functionality cannot replace the years of testing, engineering and system level understanding that goes into genuine parts.”

Consistency and after sales support are two distinguishing factors.

After-sale support of the part — including warranty, available training, available technical support and documentation and whether the part manufacturer has product specific experts — is a critical differentiator.

2. The price matters most.

The value in parts really comes from the availability, not just the price, according to Phil Taylor, vice president of maintenance for Central Oregon Truck Co. in Redmond, Ore. “We look at the value parts bring to our fleet, not necessarily just the cost. Cost is a component of value. The value is getting the truck back on the road in a timely manner. This allows our drivers to remain productive.”

He says there is a danger in choosing parts solely based on price. “When we need replacement parts for our tractors due to accidental damage, we only consider OEM proprietary parts for the chassis, body and interior of the truck.” He explains that is not solely because of the requirements of his fleet’s fair market value leasing program. “It’s also because we know we will get more value and better performance out of those parts and our trucks when repairs are completed,” he adds.

In addition, choosing the wrong type of part could result in premature failure, an on-road failure and another trip to the shop. “We all know that what one failure can cost in terms of impact,” Eaton’s Kartch says.

Pennig says it comes to total cost of ownership “While choosing a value-priced part may be cheaper in the beginning in terms of initial investment, if you have to replace the part three or four times over the life of the equipment it may not be such a great deal.”

He adds, “Cheaper products are not always better. The acquisition price once installed versus what the uptime is on the vehicle comes into play. If the product fails sooner, the price just went up.”

Wade says when a fleet has spent $100,000 [or more] for a truck, taking a chance on an unknown supplier who is offering a part that is $10 cheaper does not make sense. “The relationship of the savings to the value of the vehicle should be the guiding principal in parts selection.”

Pennig encourages fleet managers to take a holistic view of their goals. “Ultimately this puts pressure on the fleet manager to make decisions based on safety and keeping the trucks on the road running efficiently so they can make deliveries on time.”

3. The age of the vehicle is the only factor to consider.

Just as with the price of the product, the age of the truck should not be the sole determinant in what type of part to use in a repair.

Fleet managers try to maximize uptime at the lowest prices with the least amount of risk, Kartch believes. “They can consider application, the age of the vehicle, trade cycle, performance of the part, quality of the manufacturer, [and] criticality of the component to uptime and safety when they choose their parts.”

4. The name on the box is what’s really important.

Wade contends that the name on the box is secondary to who the fleet is buying that part from. “It is up to the dealer or distributor to do the due diligence as to where the part comes from, the quality of the part and everything else. I do not think the fleet manager should have to do this.

“If he recognizes the brand name, that is great, but even brand names can sometimes put wrong stuff in the box. It is up to the distributor [or dealer] who calls on every fleet in his regional area and therefore will better know what is working and what is not. Who better to know where the trouble is?”

Eaton’s Kartch cautions, “Do not be fooled by a pretty box. Check the quality inside.”

5. There is a minimum standard for parts sold in North America.

“For many of the parts being imported and sold, there may or may not be any testing to ensure the safe operation of those products in the truck owner’s vehicles,” Speed says.

“Safety should always be first” when fleets are replacing parts. He advises fleet managers to “stick with what was engineered to go with the system you need a part for.”

6. A fleet can be its own sourcing manager.

The Internet has made it easy for fleet owners to find parts, but that may not be the best avenue for parts procurement, Speed says. “Many [fleet managers] think they can go online and order parts from low-cost countries and then just plug and play the parts into vehicles. Where is the testing and validation? What happens if something goes wrong? Saving a dollar today is not worth risking someone’s life tomorrow,” Speed cautions.

7. Parts must be obtained and replaced at the dealer.

Pennig says fleets don’t always realize that a part is available through aftermarket distribution and that the product is often the same, just as good, or even better than what is available through the OE dealer channel.

8. Rebuilt and remanufactured parts are the same thing.

Tim Shaw, national sales and product manager, remanufacturing, at Haldex, says there is a big difference between rebuilt and remanufactured. A rebuilder takes a component and fixes what is wrong, replacing damaged parts. The fleet might get back the same core part it brought in.

“With remanufacturing, the component is completely taken apart and different parts of it go to different sections of a manufacturing facility. Each part has to stand on its own merit,” he says. Each piece of the component is inspected to make sure it is suitable for remanufacturing. The fleet does not get back the core part.

There is a corresponding belief that remanufactured products are not as good as new. Pennig disputes that. “One of the products we sell is a remanufactured brake shoe. We have a thorough process we follow to clean, coin and coat the shoes. What you get is as a good as new or even better and often at a lower price point.”

He adds, “Depending on the product category, buying a reman part is a very viable option.”

Excerpts are from the original article 8 Myths About Heavy-Duty Truck Parts by Denise Rondini