Heavy-duty work vehicles come in a bewildering array of shapes and sizes. These trucks exist for an almost uncountable number of roles, from railroad maintenance vehicles to self-loading crane flatbeds. Most of these specialized vehicles use underlying platforms from recognizable manufacturers, but the role-specific bodies and equipment often come from third-parties.
When a single truck in your fleet has two (or more!) manufacturers, it can sometimes be challenging to know how to select parts. This guide will help you understand how you can fit aftermarket parts into your maintenance strategy, even if your company uses many highly specialized vehicles.
OEM vs. Aftermarket
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts come straight from the manufacturer that produced your truck's factory parts. You may also be able to buy "genuine" parts directly from your truck's dealer, but these are often identical to the OEM alternatives. Both of these options provide guaranteed quality and reliability, but often at a higher price.
Third-party companies produce aftermarket parts, and they may or may not meet the original manufacturer's specifications. In some cases, aftermarket parts may provide better performance or reliability than the original factory components. Accordingly, the price range for aftermarket parts can vary considerably, and they may be much cheaper or much more expensive than the OEM option.
Why Specialized Work Trucks Complicated This Divide
Under normal circumstances, you can follow a few basic guidelines to choose parts for your fleet. OEM parts are often the right choice for critical components, such as internal engine parts. In other cases, you can save money by purchasing aftermarket parts from trusted and reliable suppliers. Although choosing the right aftermarket parts can require some research, the process is usually straightforward.
On the other hand, work trucks for specialized roles often include aftermarket equipment directly from the dealer. Cranes, dump beds, tanker units, and even bodies are typically produced by third-party manufacturers who install them onto existing platforms. Depending on the type of equipment, you may not even be able to purchase replacement parts from other sources.
How Aftermarket Parts Fit Into Your Maintenance Strategy
Working with your maintenance crews, parts suppliers, and original truck dealers is essential when choosing the best parts for your fleet. Your vehicle dealer can help direct you to original suppliers for many of your truck's components, allowing you to determine the best available source for replacements. Likewise, your maintenance team can advise on which parts tend to fail most often.
By taking this information together, you can consult with a trusted parts supplier to purchase replacement components that will be long-lasting and cost-effective. Although sophisticated and specialized work vehicles can sometimes complicate this process, a truck equipment and parts supplier can help you work through any challenges that you are likely to face.