OEMs: Be wary of cheap alternatives

Brake and suspension suppliers are warning customers that non-OEM products may be worse in the long term

OEMs: Be wary of cheap alternatives
ABC engineer Vinh Lam.


Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including brake and suspension specialists, are joining a chorus advising transport operators against choosing parts with their hip pocket.

According to the suppliers, while non-OEM parts may appear to look like their genuine counterparts and they can produce minimal and temporary gains, they risk breakdowns, accidents and future downtime.

One of those championing the cause is Firestone suspension distributor Air Springs Supply.

Its sales manager, Russell Chown, says "operators buying look-alike products are seldom making any saving at all really - they are just selling their risk management cheaply".

"Any small savings on products that don’t offer the same quality, performance and reliability as the genuine original can be wiped out in an instant by a single accident of downtime incident that puts a million-dollar truck off the road," Chown says.

That opinion is being echoed by Australian Brake Controls (ABC), which produces transport, off-highway and industrial machinery braking systems.

"We know it is tough out there for transport and off-highway equipment operators and we are sharing the pain with them," ABC engineer Vinh Lam says.

"But cutting corners with lower-quality parts is no way to extend the value and life of vehicles and machinery costing hundreds and thousands and sometimes millions of dollars."

Both parties say that incidents can be brought about in more strenuous situations, such as traversing slopes, hauling heavy loads, or moving through quarries and mine and landscaping sites.

"Such demanding situations are no place for compromised performance," Lam says.

"If you are going to do it at all, you have got to do it properly. Too much is riding on a vehicle’s suspension and brakes to cut corners."

All Air Suspension, which specialises in air helper suspensions for vehicles such as 4WD, utes, vans, and other machinery used for on and off-highway jobs and for towing, is also among those calling for customers to focus on OEM products.

Company sales manager James Maslin says poor quality products can lead to unevenly distributed loads, which in turn can lead to issues with the body of the vehicles.

"Not only can steering and braking be immediately compromised by poor load distribution, but also the chassis and tyres are placed under immense pressure by loading distortions," Maslin says.

"Unevenly loaded vehicles can be subject to increased sway because of lateral forces, while trailer-imposed ball weight will cause headlights to shine up into the trees or blind other drivers.

"A perfectly good familiar vehicle can become a safety nightmare if its suspension is not properly set up to tow or cope with varying loads."



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