Aftermarket and Parts

Genuine Decisions

As Forrest Gump famously said in the blockbuster movie of the same name, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.’ The same could be said of non-genuine aftermarket truck parts, though in such cases, surprises are usually far less sweet.

When buying replacement parts, truck owners have no shortage of options. The Eaton/Fuller transmission parts aftermarket is rife with products, which can generally be categorized as genuine Eaton or non-genuine replacement parts. While non-genuine replacement parts in some cases cost less up-front, there’s little assurance that they’ll perform as well, or last as long, as genuine Eaton components.

“In the aftermarket, it’s easy to get misled into thinking a non-genuine part would be just as good as a genuine Eaton part,” said Bill Fouch, Eaton’s NAFTA Aftermarket Marketing Manager. “Typically, we see a lower retail price associated with that non-genuine component, so some customers give non-genuine a try. We also see customers come back to genuine Eaton components to ensure they’re getting that higher-quality part with superior support.”

“It’s about how each of those parts interact together. One change to one component can have a drastically negative impact on another component, so you have to take all these things into consideration."

When choosing aftermarket replacement parts, it’s important to consider that individual components were designed to work together as a system. On its own, a non-genuine gear or bearing may look and feel like an Eaton part, but there’s no guarantee of how well it will perform within the transmission system.

“It’s about how each of those parts interact together,” Fouch said. “One change to one component can have a drastically negative impact on another component, so you have to take all these things into consideration. It’s a combination of how things work together, not just having the single best gear or single best bearing or any single component within the transmission. They all depend on each other to do their job.”

Customers who choose non-genuine components should understand they’re taking a risk. And some trucking companies have found out the hard way that non-genuine aftermarket parts aren’t always supported when something does go wrong.

“We’ve heard a lot of stories of fleets that sourced from third-party rebuilders and they’ve experienced some low mileage failures, only to find the warranty coverage was less than what was needed to make them whole,” Fouch said.

In some cases, customers knowingly choose non-genuine components in a short-sighted attempt to save money. In others instances, they unwittingly buy non-genuine components. This is especially true when purchasing rebuilt or remanufactured transmissions. Fouch noted that just because the transmission case is stamped with the Eaton name, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a genuine Eaton product inside.

“Part of the problem is that the Eaton name is cast right on the outside of the transmission case, so many customers believe since they see that, that they’re buying an Eaton factory reman when they really are not,” he explained. Customers should examine the transmission tag on the case to ensure they’re receiving a genuine Eaton component. Often, rebuilt transmissions from third-party providers contain just 35-40% genuine parts, Fouch noted. Customers shouldn’t be shy about asking their supplier if they’re receiving genuine Eaton components.

Another benefit to choosing genuine Eaton parts, is that they are continuously improved upon. In some cases, a genuine replacement part will be better designed than the part it replaces. Generally, the producers of non-genuine parts lag when it comes to implementing design enhancements.

“At Eaton, we’re always looking for ways to further improve our products for the end customers. We have some base warranties in production that go out five years or 750,000 miles,” Fouch explained. “All those improvements that happen on the production side get rolled into the aftermarket products, so that means our end customers are always ensured they’re getting the best experience possible when they buy an Eaton product. For the non-genuine providers, it typically takes them many years to catch up with design changes.”

Eaton Authorized RebuilderEaton has taken some steps in recent months to provide customers with more options for obtaining genuine Eaton transmission units. In July 2013, it launched the Eaton Authorized Rebuilder program in the U.S. Member rebuilders have committed to using 100% genuine Eaton components and meeting Eaton’s re-use and rebuild requirements.

“This is one way Eaton has worked with what we believe are superior regional rebuilders to offer that end customer another high-quality option when they are out there looking for genuine Eaton products,” Fouch said.

While many sophisticated buyers are mindful of the importance of choosing genuine parts right through a vehicle’s life-cycle, others are still driven by purchase price.

“They need to look at the total vehicle life-cycle cost, instead of just the up-front cost,” Fouch advised. “If they do that, and they take a deep look at it, it’ll be much more clear that the upfront cost benefit they might see with a non-genuine part can be far outweighed by the longevity, reliability and support that you only get with genuine Eaton parts.”