Richard Davies wrote this fantastic detailed information on how to correctly purchase VW parts. I did some heavy internet archive wayback searching and happened to find cached portions of the no longer live OE Vee Dub site. Luckily, I was able to piece this information back together.
Photos: Stefan Warter
Article: Richard Davies
How to buy VW parts. NOS, Genuine, OE, OEM, Aftermarket. What do these mean?
OE: Original Equipment. This denotes the part was manufactured by one of the many suppliers of parts to assemble your vehicle on the production line. The part will be as good as any item carrying the VW Logo. Examples: ATE and FAG make Brake hydraulics, master cylinders, wheel cylinders, calipers, etc for VW. Bosch makes many of the electrical components; Zimmermann makes brake rotors and drums; Pagid and Jurid make brake pad and shoes; LUK and Sachs make Clutches; Pierburg makes fuel injection parts. Boge and Sachs make Shock Absorbers; Mahle and Kolbenschmidt make engine parts and so on… There are hundreds more OE Suppliers to the Volkswagen Audi Group.
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer – Same as OE.
NOS: New Old Stock. Genuine VW item no longer available from Volkswagen but item is Genuine VW.
Genuine VW: Genuine VW Part – generally still available from Volkswagen. But wait…. There is Genuine VW Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, United Kingdom, South Africa and others. Genuine VW means the product is manufactured to VW tolerances; however, in our experience, products made in Europe are better than those made elsewhere, even if they carry the VW Logo.
Aftermarket German: Generally good quality, but not Original Equipment supplier. example: Meyle, Torpries. (I believe these are not OEM suppliers but they might have the odd item they supply to VW). Aftermarket from other countries. Beware, especially aftermarket products from China and Brazil.
Example: An OEM German Front Hood Seal, VW Part number 113 823 731B sells for $19.98 from OE Vee Dub. (It costs us around $14.75 once we have paid the freight and import duty). The seal is made by the original manufacturer to VW, the shape is correct, the six nipples to attach it at the top are correctly formed, and above all it is made of the highest-quality blend of EPDM rubber as supplied to VW. It will last for over 20 years without cracking even in the Arizona climate!
The same part number, 113 823 731B in aftermarket quality retails $5.95 (Southern California supplier retail price October 10. 2009) (Southern California retail price for the German aftermarket: $32.95). The cost for the aftermarket part from the major import houses is $2.10, less if imported directly from Brazil (about $1.50). And the cost for Chinese-made part is $0.75. Guess what? If you fit a Brazilian or Chinese part to your vehicle. it will take you three times as long to fit as the OE seal and it will crack within 6 months, less than a year even if you never take the vehicle out of the garage.
Now if you apply the same logic to Brake Parts for instance. A Brazilian wheel cylinder costs around $12 to $14 and an OE German one around $19.90. The aftermarket wheel cylinder will very likely fail after 2 years, the OE German one after 20 years. Which is the cheaper in the long run? Then, you have safety to consider. Even if you only use the vehicle on weekends, do you want your family to end up in the hospital, while your pride and joy is towed to the junk yard?
When purchasing parts, always ask or look on the web site for the Country of Origin or manufacturer. If in doubt, call or e-mail the supplier before placing your order. If they don’t know, or are not prepared to give the information, you can be fairly-sure it is poor aftermarket quality.
‘Lifetime Warranty’ – what’s that about? BEWARE: It’s the biggest con going. Most times, ‘Lifetime Warranty’ covers the lifetime of the part, not your lifetime or your vehicle’s lifetime. ‘Lifetime Warranty’ doesn’t cover shipping or workshop time to fit the replacement every 2 years. When you fit an aftermarket floor pan gasket, do you really want to lift the body off your vehicle every 6 months, or 2 years if you are lucky to replace the seal? And who decides if the lifetime of a wheel cylinder is 2 years or 6 months? The owner of the company who sold it to you!
When I see ‘Lifetime Warranty’ offered on an item – whether it is an automotive parts or anything else – I am immediately suspicious and unlikely to purchase from that company.
Let’s talk ‘Cost plus % discount’ schemes. Companies claiming they sell for ‘Cost plus 10%’ … what a load of old bologna!! They might sell one or two items for cost plus 10%. In fact, I’ve checked a few of these companies out, and it is more like cost plus 57%. Do you really think they can cover their electric, salaries, rent, phone, web site, advertising, etc by selling at cost plus 10%? If they are lying about this, what other whoppers are they telling?
This is a fantastic article. I’m so glad you were able to bring it back online.
Great info. Thanks. So many people call stuff on thesamba.com classifieds as NOS when it is not. As for cost +10% I have had great luck with GoWestyAuotparts.com since they are connected to GoWesty.com (a great resource for vans, buses, etc.). I’m not sure if they are an exception or the items I was ordering were just luckily the true cost+10%.
Thanks! Yeah, we’ve all been there before. Please let me know if I can do anything to help you with your project.
Great article, Eric. So many times people are duped by poor quality parts that don;t fit or last. We won’t put an Asian part on our German cars. Period! We learned the hard way.
I want to echo Richard Davies’ points–his advice is right on the mark! Let me give an example:
Today, I was speaking with a VW mechanic. He related his recent experience with a brake repair to a Beetle.
He had replaced the master cylinder’s two brake light switches. As he was testing the brakes, the pedal went to the floor!
Upon investigation, he found that the top of one of the switches had blown out! He replaced it, and, again, testing the brakes had the second switch to blow out.
Both switches were Chinese! He reported his findings to the parts house where he purchased the switches.
The fewer Chinese parts that one buys, the better! Especially when it comes to brake parts.
If you can afford to buy German, do that. If you cannot buy or even find German, buy the next best parts. Stay away from “el-cheepo”. Your life depends upon it!
Wow.. Well, as we already know. Keep it German!
“I did some heavy internet archive wayback searching and happened to find cached portions of the no longer live OE Vee Dub site. Luckily, I was able to piece this information back together.”
Thats one of the catalogs I saved they use the real part numbers and I keep them for reference.
Oh yeah? I’d love if you could possibly scan it and share. I’m sure a lot of readers could gain knowledge from it.
John – Is this catalog something you could share or something I could maybe put on an Excel Spreadsheet for use by the 1967Beetle.com community?
The best would be if he could scan it. I could make a PDF as well as visuals for the ’67 folks.
Eric … great minds and all! You were just faster than I was :-)
What can I say… :)
I echo this practice. I have purchased old catalogs OnLine or at Swaps, etc. But, good reference catalogs are not limited to antique catalogs–I have one which I am looking at presently from Wolfsburgwest.com. A great source of every part number you ever wished that you had at hand!
So…don’t feel like an orphaned airhead! Call or write or go OnLine and get yourself one of these great catalogs. You’ll do yourself a favor. jay
Although this article reads much like a firm selling OE VW parts, I agree that if you can find original OE parts, that usually is your best choice, but aftermarket parts made in Europe or even in Germany aren’t always the “best” choice. Buying a used set of original heater boxes and refurbishing them is better than the new “Dansk” units. A few years back I bought a set of “German” running boards that were pure crap. The fit, and finish was the worse I’ve ever seen. Even some of the budget Chinese broards I’ve seen were better than these. Still in their German boxes, with Hubert Schlieckmann GMBH – KarosserieTeile, printed on the side, after struggling to install them, they fit like crap. I ended pulling them off and replacing them with the boards sold by WolfsburgWest. There was no comparison, the WW boards looked and fit perfectly. As for the “German” boards, I just tossed them out, lesson learned.
Great info! Yeah, I’ve had this happen even with NOS a few times. Age plays a part, I’m assuming.
Hello, Jeffrey…You make some excellent points!
I tell everyone to use discernment when buying parts. I never buy everything from one vendor. Over the years one finds that certain vendors have better xyz parts while another has the best abc parts.
Occasionally, I will be surprised when a recommended vendor provides an inferior part. I usually get on the horn and tell them, and my VW friends, about it. It’s life in the automotive lane. Do your homework. If a company gets enough returns, we always hope that they will discontinue that product–but it doesn’t always turn out rosy.
I also caution against accepting that a part comes from a country of origin just because it says so on the box. Packaging is very deceptive these days. The package may say “Made in the USA” while the product inside is from elsewhere. There is a well-known German company that packages like this–they have branches throughout the World from which they draw parts, packaging them in “Made in Germany” containers.
Beware. Ask lots of questions. If a vendor doesn’t like to answer questions–go elsewhere. Talk to mechanics and others who regularly deal with parts vendors. A local VW mechanic near me is one of my constant sources for this sort of information. If he won’t buy and install a certain product–I take note. He knows that if the car returns due to a faulty product, he takes the hit.
Here’s an example which compares with Jeffrey’s experience: a VW friend called. He said that he had purchased two sets of Bug door window trim–scrapers, felts, etc. Got a really good deal on teh parts! But…he could not get them to fit. Doug is a bang-up fabrication expert. I knew that if he could not get the parts to fit–they really were bad. I told him to buy from another company. Later he told me that the parts from my recommended company had fit like a glove. The next time I was at his shop, there in the trash were the first window parts which didn’t fit–brand new, expensive trash! What seems like a good deal isn’t always.
One of the big problems with outfitting vintage vehicles is that most of us don’t have a lot of cash for the purpose–we are trying to find “cheaper”. Well…I have found it best to do some saving–I call it “building a war chest”. If you don’t have enough cash for the purpose–save until you do. THEN buy the needed parts. You may just find yourself saving some big bucks, even though you had to postpone your work a little longer.
Patience-awareness-good shopping practices!
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