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Thread: Success rates with cheap parts?

  1. #1
    all the CFI are belong to me
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    Default Success rates with cheap parts?

    I often find myself wondering which of the cheap/off brand parts on the market are usable. It used to be the answer was always "Moog but not the R-prefix part numbers", but anecdotally I've heard Moog's quality has slipped and new-manufactured parts even in the Problem Solver line don't necessarily hold up like they used to.

    Which, of course, leaves very few options for "trusted brand names" that are also not "a significant percentage of the value of the vehicle".

    I can tell you this: when I first did the big brakes on my 91, I used Dorman complete lower control arms with included non-greasable ball joints. I used Ultra Power K8678 upper ball joints. One year/less than 10k km later, I had visible slop in one of the Ultra Power uppers and a crunching sound coming from one of the lowers. One of the lowers, unsure if it was the crunching one or not, is rather sloppy as well. So I can very confidently recommend against those specific parts because they were disasters for me. I replaced them before any separations, of course, and I'm also the sort to periodically check my suspension for slop anyway so the chances of them failing before I noticed were slim.

    Can anyone provide their experiences with the various brands that are out there? I'm specifically wondering about Mevotech Supreme. If Moog is not the king it once was, maybe the price premium for Moog parts is not justified like it once was. If a competitor makes a part that's roughly as good for half the price, overspending for the name on the box doesn't make much sense...does it?

    Lower ball joints are the part that led me to make this post, but anything is fair game to list off...

    The parts exist, surely someone is buying them. And surely some of those $8 ball joint offerings have to be decent or there's no way they could stay on the market. I do not believe that you always get what you pay for - on a level paying field, sure. But since price is not linearly related to cost of manufacture or build quality, it doesn't necessarily mean much. I'm certain that a portion of that $50 ball joint is just inflated to make the brand seem more premium because of attitudes like "you get what you pay for".
    Last edited by kishy; 09-06-2017 at 02:07 PM.

    83 GM 2dr | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 (Pre-Op) | 85 CS | 85 Ranger | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards thread/Flickr

  2. #2
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    From my experience... it's all a crap shoot... some just have less failures than others, but none are bad part in box immune.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sly View Post
    From my experience... it's all a crap shoot... some just have less failures than others, but none are bad part in box immune.
    +1

    I usually just try to get stuff that has good warranties. I got a MFS for the '97 a few years back from Standard Motor Products since the OE one was losing it's return function when it was set for a left turn. A few months back the replacement made a really cool noise when I flipped on the high beams. I turned it back to low beams and it felt crunchy. I then noticed the high beams were still on. I could merely jiggle the handle and turn them on and off.

    Anyway, I saved the OE one. I tossed it back in and tossed out the replacement. It works well, except for a lazy return when signaling left. It doesn't bother me much just to assist in canceling the signal, so it'll stay put until it really fails.

    More recently I needed a distributor for the wagon. Got it through Spectra Premium (also branded Rockporter Technologies in some areas). First one I got was bad out of the box (bad pickup). Swapped it for another, and received the correct part, but it was made differently (cap, rotor, and TFI were of different brand; construction was a touch different too). The first one was Chinese, the second Taiwanese. Build quality on the second one was better than the first one.

    FWIW, I try to see how much the price difference is for Motorcraft parts when possible, particularly electronics. I know with suspension stuff, aftermarket suppliers is about it.

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    Given our pricing structure, if you hop across the border or order from rockauto you can usually get whats known as a decent name for a fraction of the cost. Thats my first goto. Seems anymore BWD is the only option at part stores, and pricing here in Canada is ridiculous for that stuff, especially when you compare it to genuine acdelco or motorcraft pricing at rockauto.
    Overall, at this time, I tend to avoid anything with a name I don't recognize, I don't trust it to last long. Unless there is no other option, I'll stick with the primary players even if they are sourcing from China.

    Alex.

  5. #5
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    Honestly I know nothing about the $8 ball joints, but they're so cheap it scares me.

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    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

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    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Dorman and BrokenWhenDelievered are both known to be horrible. Like sly said though, it's a crapshoot. The motorcraft IAC and TBL I bought were garbage and why I try to recondition factory stuff when possible. I cringe at the thought of having to replace a ball joint now. Funny how the factory stuff is still going strong almost 30 years later & some 110k miles yet a new replacement won't even go 2 years or 10k.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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    BWD, one of the brands under Standard Motor Products, usually seems to be OK. I say that because I don't think I've ever actually had one of their parts fail. EVR, ECT, ACT. TPS is a maybe. I don't remember which TPS is on the Lincoln right now, it's either the new SMP I bought or it might be a junkyard SEFI TPS with a hole punched in it. If it's the latter, I can't hold SMP accountable for that lol.

    I buy mostly in the US. My car parts come to me via these channels:
    • CarQuest locally
    • Advance Auto Parts in-store pickup in Detroit/suburbs
    • RockAuto shipping to home
    • RockAuto shipping to friend's house in a Detroit suburb


    All depending on how fast I need it (almost always a non-issue because I buy stuff months to a year in advance of each project), shipping cost, exchange rate and so on.

    Those $8 ball joints though...I tried them for the uppers because the uppers don't have a separating force applied to them by gravity. Learned my lesson, they sucked, replaced and got car aligned again. The ball joints aren't what hurt the wallet (well, maybe, since Problem Solvers went in to replace the shit ones), it's the alignment that sucked to re-do.

    For the lower ball joints, little bit different. They are subjected to much more extreme forces and those forces are trying to pull the ball out of the socket. Seems riskier. Also seems like it could have been engineered differently but that's a different thread. On the flipside, replacing the lowers shouldn't necessitate an alignment, so as long as they didn't separate it's not a big investment to change them out later.

    Or maybe the Problem Solver lowers will show up on closeout on RockAuto and I can stop wondering dangerous questions.

    83 GM 2dr | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 (Pre-Op) | 85 CS | 85 Ranger | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards thread/Flickr

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    My brother had his whole front end rebuilt with Mevotech and it seems to be holding up alright. This, mind you, is on an '02 F-150HD. He had radical tire wear issues, as well as clunky suspension. With the rebuild and new alignment job, she drives real nice. This work was done about 2 years ago or so. Only thing I've used of theirs was swaybar end links when I put on my addco front bar. They appear to be quality but they're just endlinks.

    I know i'm probably due for a rebuild sooner or later but my front-end is fairly tight. Also holding out 'til I do big break swap. When the time comes, i'll probably just get what is available and hope for the best. What's really screwy is how often availability changes on parts. Just checked rockauto and all they have is moog for control arms. Pretty sure mevotech offered the whole kit with ball joints and shit not long ago. Oh well.

  9. #9
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    I talked to my local CarQuest (they seem leaps and bounds more knowledgeable about the parts they're selling than their local competitors). They carry Mevotech and he said they see pretty much equal warranty returns vs Moog. The Moog part is $74, the Mevotech is $25.

    The question at that point is whether or not people typically bother returning failed parts. If an owner replaces a part to make the car pass safety, then sells the car using "safetied!" as a justification to bump the price up, the buyer isn't going to be able to claim on that warranty anyway.

    OTOH: I called the shop that did my alignment last time, and they said they've only seen bad results with Mevotech. He wasn't sure what percentage of that was the cheap line vs the Supreme line, though. Recommended Moog Problem Solver or ACDelco Professional as the only front end parts he trusts.

    On the other, other hand: how often do you take your car to the shop to tell them everything's fine?
    Last edited by kishy; 09-07-2017 at 11:06 AM.

    83 GM 2dr | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 (Pre-Op) | 85 CS | 85 Ranger | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards thread/Flickr

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    Livin' it large BigMikeIT's Avatar
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    Same here, local shop swears by Moog (maybe because the markup is greater to some part) and that Mevotech is "chinese crap."

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    I've all but given up on the subject. I put a lot of Moog parts in the Town Car around 90k miles. It currently has just under 145k. Sway bar links lasted 6 months, pitman arm leaks grease and always has, tie rod end boots fell apart after a year not that they ever really sealed. The frustrating part is the upper ball joints, they make one hell of a racket when its cold outside, this started 2 winters ago, they are still tight and they are silent when its warm out. I've switched grease thinking maybe it was an issue of the grease not flowing when cold, but its the same deal. Its so bad that I considered replacing them but I don't think a shop would even align this car anymore.

    I'm really torn on what to do with my '98. It needs some front end work. Notably all 4 ball joints. I've already installed a Duralast idler arm that looks identical to the Moog one in the Townie. The Duralast lower ball joints in the Townie have been fine for a few years now. I know working at AutoZone that I don't see a lot of Duralast chassis parts come back, and that it seems they have been switching manufactures on a lot of them and quality seems to be getting better, of course they also jacked up the price on them. I'm not sure what they are trying to do in that regard.
    -Steve

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    1996 Mercury Grand Marquis GS 117,485mi. R.I.P. 7/14/12

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    all the CFI are belong to me
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    My biggest issue really is that I do not trust and adhere to the notion that higher price = higher quality. I am suspicious of vendors who play by that rule because it's very easy to hike the price on something and then say it's a higher quality product, and you believe it because you believe "buy once, cry once", but at the end of the day it might be just as crappy as the mysterious $8 ball joint of questionable origin.

    Duralast lowers for the big brake application are non-greasable from what I can see and there are a couple poor reviews for that application as well. The Valuecraft is greasable but because of that "get what you pay for" mentality it's hard to say whether they can be trusted.

    When I got my Ranger I was so impressed that the ball joints are positioned such that gravity always holds the ball in the socket...it seems like such a no-brainer to make the ball joint solely be responsible for articulation, not for holding the vehicle weight. But, whatever. I'm not about to re-engineer the Panther front end with twin-I-beams.

    83 GM 2dr | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 (Pre-Op) | 85 CS | 85 Ranger | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards thread/Flickr

  13. #13
    No mean-spiritedness here. IPreferDIY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kishy View Post
    My biggest issue really is that I do not trust and adhere to the notion that higher price = higher quality. ...
    I haven't really been in a frame of mind to give thought to quality analysis, but one issue I'll note is that if I can be reasonably certain that a significantly cheaper aftermarket part will be comparable to OEM, then I'll gladly save the money. It seems to me that a big factor in higher OEM prices is having to cover inflated union wages. My lot in life has never gotten to the point where I've felt compelled to support highly-paid assembly line workers, not to mention the fat-cats who oversee them.

    I know that you can't often rely on claims of "meets or exceeds OEM specifications", but copying some parts isn't rocket science. I know some OEM parts are known to be superior for whatever reason, but I won't subscribe to the "always use OEM" philosophy.

    FWIW, I had briefly worked on a windshield wiper motor assembly line in my school days. There were two adjustments that I know of where they depended on assemblers to call a maintenance guy over to make an adjustment. One was how much force was used to stake the output shaft bushing in place. Another was the amount of grease that got shot onto the worm gear. A problem had to show up before anyone reacted, and I don't recall the initial substandard ones being pulled off the line. I imagine the same happens in more critical areas.

    2000 Grand Marquis LS HPP, a hand-me-down in 2008 with 128,000 km; 175,000 km as of July 2014
    mods: air filter box "tuba" (in place of the "trumpet"), headlight relay harness, J-mod (around 186,350 km), 70mm throttle body, NKL4 PCM (from a 2000 CVPI, nothing great there apart from highway cruising)

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    all the CFI are belong to me
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    Revisiting this in a not entirely helpful way:

    I just bought some stuff from RockAuto to allow me to finish a pile of projects (hopefully), and among the purchases were the inner tie rod ends for my Ranger.

    The Ranger does not use a traditional drag link with idler arm; one of the inner tie rod ends acts as the drag link and spans most of the width of the steering linkage. These parts are therefore rather large and hard to get to ship nicely from RockAuto without doing nasty things to your shipping rate, so I ended up with Ultra Power brand parts (same as my prematurely-failing-upper-ball-joints as outlined in this thread).

    Anyway, one of them came in a CarQuest box, so it looks to me like this establishes a link between whoever the white box manufacturer is that makes "Ultra Power" and CarQuest's basic line (since we know their good line is house-labeled Moog Problem Solver).

    This means nothing about if the part is any good or not, but it does answer that nagging question of who exactly sells the cheap stuff: it's white box part store stuff.





    The outer tie rod ends currently on the Ranger are white box parts from the Canadian Tire store brand 'Certified', made in China, short warranty, your standard cheap parts.

    83 GM 2dr | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 (Pre-Op) | 85 CS | 85 Ranger | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards thread/Flickr

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    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    I bought a pair of Mevotech outer tie rod ends for my Mark VII / Continental. Moog ones aren't available, Napa can't get me anything either. Basically it was a case of buying something before I can't get anything. No clue if they're worth a crap but eyeball inspection tells me they are made of metal and the boots actually seem decent. The suspension on those cars isn't hard on the tie rods, and the ones under the Conti are original and fine at 185k so its possible I will never need to replace them.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
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    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

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    Member Grand1's Avatar
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    Agree that it's a crap shoot, especially with suspension/steering parts. Have heard of Moogs demise as well. Rock auto does at least have a spec sheet for most of their stuff....first go too rather then the auto part store cartels. Put on mevotech end links and ball joints on my 78 about two years ago with no issue.

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    That Sugarland TX warehouse (seems most of my rockauto orders come from there) is an auto parts liquidation warehouse ( http://www.surplusparts.com/ ). I stumbled on their website once, they buy up old stock, and resell it. So that ultrapower sticker may be more tied in with being a liquidator than actual part source. You could conceivably order two of the same parts with the ultra power sticker, and one is in a carquest box, the other might be in an acdelco box.

    Alex.

  18. #18
    all the CFI are belong to me
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    Ahhhh, that makes more sense. Ultra-Power may not be a "brand" at all, it's just the "brand" of white box parts that come from World Trading Surplus Auto Parts when they can't say (legal reasons) what "brand" the part really is (e.g. CarQuest in the case of my one tie rod end, made by yet another company and we don't know who that is).

    So...that means there are probably some really good parts in the Ultra-Power brand and probably some very bad parts, and everything in between.

    83 GM 2dr | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 (Pre-Op) | 85 CS | 85 Ranger | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards thread/Flickr

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    Stow It! GM_Guy's Avatar
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    Probably a good analysis. So far the stuff I've got from there was recongnizable brands (AC Delco & Dayco.) Probably old stock with packaging that was discontinued, cheaper to sell it off than rebox anymore (they used to rebox parts when packaging designs got changed). No matter, I figure if I get a dud in the bunch, I'm still money ahead compared to what we pay up here for parts. Sad when you can buy a made in Canada part cheaper on rockauto, including shipping to your door, than buy it from a local vendor (blower motors for instance).

    Alex.

  20. #20
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GM_Guy View Post
    That Sugarland TX warehouse (seems most of my rockauto orders come from there) is an auto parts liquidation warehouse ( http://www.surplusparts.com/ ). I stumbled on their website once, they buy up old stock, and resell it. So that ultrapower sticker may be more tied in with being a liquidator than actual part source. You could conceivably order two of the same parts with the ultra power sticker, and one is in a carquest box, the other might be in an acdelco box.

    Alex.
    Those were the guys that had the power steering feed hose for my 93. $35 sure beat the hell out of $200+ from Ford.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
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