I am about to order that my car is repaired. It is a 2001 Mercedes
Benz C320. After much investigations, it is determined that the ESP
computer control module is at fault.
Mercedes Benz Australia wants $4100 for the repair ($3750 for the
I have been recommended from a family member, an independent mechanic
who also services Mercedes Benz cars.
He stated that he can try to repair the unit (by sending it out), or
source a non genuine part. Now the thing that got me was that he
stated that he can get an identical part that although not labelled
Mercedes Benz, actually was made and came from Germany. He stated that
these parts are made from the same factory but is packaged in a
no-brand box kind of thing.
He has a lot of trust from the circle of family and friends that
Now I know that in a lot of industries, goods are often made in the
same factory but branded differently. I sort of remembered that
somebody said that he gets these components from Singapore or Hong
Kong. Could their market allow for reliable non branded parts that may
have been imported from the same factories that make the branded parts?
I know that a lot of non genuine parts can have variable quality but I
definitely am not of the belief that you have to have genuine parts for
a lot of things (though for this critical part, I may still opt to pay
the premium just so that it won't break down again).
As an example a particular piece of ham radio gear under a well known
brand costs $329.00 retail
I can buy the sam unit with n unknown brand factory direct for $58.oo
some one along the line is making some profit , what warranty does
this mechanic supply ?
I have no idea with this particular case, but with vehicle manufacturers
relying as heavily on outside suppliers as they do today, it's more a case
of branded parts coming from the "non branded" factory. In a lot of cases,
non genuine parts suppliers actually make the "genuine" parts for the
manufacturers, and the only differences are the pretty boxes the genuine
parts come in, and the mark-up the manufacturer shoves on them.
Here in Melbourne (That's in Australia for you Americans :) there used to be
a company called Natra who, until a couple of years ago, made radiators for
Ford for the locally made Falcon. They'd buy in the stock, manufacture the
radiator, package it in a pretty "Ford" branded box (complete with Ford part
number and barcode) and ship it to the Ford assembly plant for the grand sum
of 86 bucks per unit, including shipping (which came out of Natra's end).
All Ford had to do was unload the truck and stock the items, and their
retail per unit was over 600 bucks :)
Of course they do, when they aren't prevented from doing so by contractual
obligation. You can buy a Behr radiator from Mercedes or you can buy one from
Behr. There's a difference in cost. MB will repair free any part they sell that
breaks, however this is not true of the OE part.
Need Mercedes parts? http://parts.mbz.org
Richard Sexton | Mercedes stuff: http://mbz.org
Not publicly, but they supplied cores and complete radiators to the radiator
repair industry at significantly reduced rates (compared to Ford). They used
to supply the *exact* same radiator to radiator repairers that they did to
Ford for around 200 bucks, which was a good mark-up for them but still a
shitload cheaper to the end user than Ford.
Bendix supply Ford, Holden and others with OEM parts, such as brake & clutch
friction material, master cylinders & brake boosters and brake callipers,
and sell those exact same parts to anyone who wants them in their own
"Bendix" branded packaging.
Usually without the 100+% mark-up that the manufacturers feel it necessary
to whack on everything in order to make it viable.
A mechanic I know was replacing the front wheel bearings on his friends
MB, MB price for the bearings was very expensive so the mechanic took a
sample to a local bearing supplier, it turns out the bearings were
identical to the ones fitted to a Holden and were about 1/10th the price.
The only difference was the box they came in, Timken boxes (the OE MB
parts were Timken) instead of MB boxes.
I wouldn't hesitate to fit non genuine parts provided they were guaranteed.
Shades of the "555" company in Japan.
They make suspension components (amongst other things) for just about
all the Japanese manufacturers, those parts are "branded" with the OEM
name of the car maker, or with a part number, sometimes both.
I don't know what the current price of a "genuine" tie rod end for a
4Runner is, but the "ask" was around $100 a year or so back when I
But the "555" branded component, complete with Toyota Part Number, but
in "white box" from a parts importer was $20.
Car makers do indeed make parts. Just not *every* part of the car they sell.
Manufacturers tend to limit themselves to the "major" components that are
specific to their product, and rely on outside suppliers for minor
components either by having something designed and built especially for them
or by using an existing product and incorporating it into their own design.
Such as the differential used here in Commodores and Falcons (Holden & Ford
vehicles). Same differential unit, but used in two different vehicles with
different suspensions and carriers.
Things like belt idler pulleys are a perfect example of an existing product
incorporated into a design, as it's not at all uncommon to find one generic
type used on a couple of dozen different engines from different
manufacturers (and all usually made by the same company, but with a wide
range of OEM pricing from the vehicle manufacturer :)
I haven't seen Shockies mentioned.
Monroe supply GM Ford Mits etc with OE shockies. The thing is though, they
are made to a very strict budget and corners are cut to reduce cost. This
leads to the shockies being sold in Munroe boxes being much better quality
because they can be make to a spec that isn't controlled by budget
constraint. After market shocks may have better oil, better seals, (as in 2
Teflon seals as opposed to one standard) , double or triple layer of chrome
on the shaft, as opposed to a single layer on the OE shaft.
So aftermarket parts are often better than the original.
Also not true that "Manufacturers tend to limit themselves to the "major"
That why when a factory closes down, not only do the factory workers loose
their jobs, many many workers from satellite businesses loose their jobs
That doesn't agree with my experience with shocks, OE shocks usually
last a long time, replacements in Munroe boxes last a hell of a lot less
This was the case with 2 cars, a VK wagon and an XD van, in both cases
the OE shocks lasted 5 yrs, the replacements were stuffed in less than 2.
You can source a rebuilt unit from USA... there are plenty of rebuilder
here... The part number must match though so you need to have the part
number to see if they have the same one here.
As for the OEM... Original Equipment Manufacturer... it is same quality. OE
is Original Equipment... direct from MB.
If you could, I would swap out the unit from a similar car with same part
number to see if your error goes away. Otherwise, electrical part are
But wasn't it a "premium" part that broke down THIS time?
Before I'd spend $$$$ for genuine MB electronics, I'd think back to an
old episode of All in the Family TV show. Archie was arguing with the
meathead about President Nixon and Watergate. Archie told him the
only mistake Nixon made was hiring Germans (Haldeman, Ehrlichman) to do
electronics. Everybody knows they are no good at it. He should have
Seriously, I'd probably go with one of the aftermarket companies that
rebuild and offer a warranty. In any case, I'd want to know for
sure where the replacement is coming from and what warranty they offer,
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