Heels & Horsepower Magazine

Generic vs Genuine: What Is The Difference?

An important part of owning a car is keeping it in good running condition, but as we all know, services and car parts aren’t cheap.

Life is becoming increasingly expensive, so it’s understandable that you’d want to find the most affordable ways to get all those important things taken care of – including your car. If you’re on a tight budget, you’d be happy to know that there is an option beyond genuine parts to fit onto your vehicle, and that comes in the form of generic alternatives.

Manufactured and sold at a significantly lower price than what you’d pay for the original parts from the manufacturer, generic parts allow people to maintain their cars on a budget.

But what are the differences really, and is it safe to opt for generic parts?

What Is The Difference Between Genuine and Generic?

In all honesty, there isn’t much of a difference. Generic parts are very much like generic medication: they were designed to be exact replicas of the original.

Generic parts are typically directly reverse-engineered from the original components and look exactly the same. In fact, often, the difference between the two comes down to a brand name or packaging.

Original parts, also called OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, are the exact same parts your car was fitted with when it was originally assembled. Generic parts are very much like generic medication: they were designed to be exact replicas of the original.

Is It Safe To Have Generic Parts Installed?

A lot of car manufacturers and manufacturer-approved service technicians insist that it’s unwise and unsafe to install generic parts in your vehicle if you care about its longevity and your own safety. However, as long as you purchase parts from a reputable retailer or auto parts franchise, the choice to buy a generic part should be quite safe.

One aspect that may differ is that generic car parts may not have the same warranty as original parts – or may not even come with any warranty at all, but this comes as part of the territory as you’re paying less for the part.

Another potential drawback is that the actual materials used to make the part may not be as durable as the OEM version, which means the part could wear down much sooner and have a reduced lifespan than the more expensive OEM part. 

If you’re presented with the option of going for OEM or generic parts, be sure to find out about the reputation of the brand being offered to you. If a trusted car parts franchise sells generic parts and recommends them, you should be quite safe in making the purchase.

Again, just be aware that while the part will cost you significantly less, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” always rings true, so don’t expect the same durability and lifespan when fitting a generic part.  

What You Should Know About Brake Discs

Disc brake pads are safety critical.Damaged or worn brake pads cause slow braking and severe wear can make it almost impossible for a car to come to a stop.

Why Are Disc Brake Pads Used in Cars?

Disc brake pads are contained within brake callipers (represented in red in the illustration below). The callipers push against the rotor (disc) when hydraulically squeezed, using friction to slow down or stop your vehicle.

Braking System image courtesy of Supa Quick

Brake pads need to be robust to perform their task and are manufactured using steel for the backing plate. Fibres, metal particles, and bonding material is woven, moulded or sintered into friction material.

What Causes Wear and Tear in Disc Brake Pads?

Worn disc brake pads are caused by:

  • Negligent and thoughtless driving – Rapid acceleration, Constant hard braking  and over loading vehicles increases the rate of brake pad wear.
  • Fitting poor quality disc brake pads – Everyday driving creates excess dust as a result of the increased wear rate of inferior brake pads. This causes brakes to squeak. Poor quality disc brake pads do not perform as well as they should, and reduced performance could have dire consequences.

What Are the Symptoms of Worn Disc Pads?

Brake disc pads tend to indicate wear and tear long before this becomes a problem. Early diagnosis can save you money and keep you safe. Signals from worn brake pads are relayed through the sensor to a display on the dashboard.  Subsequent warning signs include:

  • Squeaking or scraping brakes – When brake pads are worn, they come into direct contact with the brake discs (also known as rotors), causing a scraping sound.
  • Pedal vibrations – Worn disc brake pads touch the rotor sending vibrations to the pedal.
  • Brake pedal indicators – Brake pedal feel hard, spongy or require greater pressure to stop the car.
  • Slower braking response – Worn disc brake pads cannot slow the vehicle down quickly enough

What to do when Brake Discs and Brake Pads are Worn

Disc brake pads and brake discs could last around 40,000 km to 50,000 km depending on driving habits and conditions. Skimming of brake discs may also be necessary, and if required would extend the life of your new brake pads, thereby saving you money. Depending on your driving habits and road conditions, brake disc replacement should be considered with every two to three brake pad replacements.

The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) determines when you need to change your disc brake pads. However, according to Retail Motor Industry (RMI) developments, you may challenge your dealership when taking your car for a service and only replace disc brake pads when necessary and not according to a pre-determined schedule.

Article courtesy of SupaQuick South Africa