Are OEM parts better? I have heard some say definitely yes, and others say no. January 2, 2016.
My answer is a conditional yes, OEM parts are often better made and well worth the extra expense, but sometimes they are not.
Years ago when companies like Massey Ferguson were independent with a history of quality products I would have said OEM parts are better, often more costly, but usually worth the price. Today with companies like AGCO having acquired multiple brands like Allis Chalmers, Massey Ferguson, Minneapolis Moline, Oliver, White, New Idea, and others, the collective minds of engineers of those individual companies with their product knowledge of an individual brand is pretty much gone.
The parts business is now driven by bean counters interested only in the bottom line for each part. Original tooling capable of duplicating original parts has often been lost or scrapped. Many parts are now reverse engineered by companies in India, Poland, Korea, Yugoslavia, Japan and China. OEM branded parts are now sourced from suppliers providing those same parts to after-market parts dealers.
Inventories of old original parts still exist and are still in the possession of the successor companies or NOS parts warehouse suppliers, but they are shrinking. Purchasing those “original” parts pretty much guarantees the replacement part will be the same quality as the original part.
Once those “original” parts supplies are exhausted, the current company must decide if there is enough demand for the part to continue supplying it, and if there is, who will supply it. If they have the original tooling to produce the part, who do they get to reproduce it? Because most of the original production facilities are gone, they cannot reproduce the part if they in fact produced it in the first place.
A typical example of a group of OEM fast moving parts that are now no different than those purchased from after-market parts suppliers is carburetor parts. As tractor manufacturers phased out gas engines. companies like Marvel Schebler and Carter either went out of business or were sold to other companies that discontinued production of both carburetors and repair parts. Many of the tractor manufacturers further accelerated the downfall of those companies as they began purchasing carburetor parts, which are significant repair parts items, from after-market suppliers in an attempt to cut costs. Companies like Marvel Schebler and Carter not only lost the OEM business for carburetors for new tractors, but the lucrative repair parts business. Those original Marvel Schebler and Carter parts were not only better made but more complete than the offerings of after-market suppliers.
The after-market parts work, but in many cases, just work and are incomplete. Have you tried to purchase a choke shaft for a Marvel Schebler carburetor for a TO-20, TO-30, TO-35, or MF-35 in the last 25-30 years or how about anything other than a float valve for a Carter carburetor tor those same models? So, when it comes to carburetor parts, after-market parts are often no different than parts from the tractor manufacturer and the parts from after-market parts suppliers are often less expensive.
If you can find an OEM lower lift arm for your Ferguson you will usually find the additional cost well worth it. After-market lift arms vary from copies made from mild steel with weld on ball ends that bend like pretzels to those that resemble the OEM version but more often than not, do not possess the strength of the original. Finding an OEM original or a good used part is well worth the effort required.
Then there are the parts OEM manufacturers originally purchased from outside suppliers who now produce those same parts for the after-market. As purchases by OEM manufacturers declined as farms and the demand for farm equipment declined, many manufacturers offered those same original parts or parts with minor differences to after-market parts suppliers. When you can positively identify those parts you will sometimes find it costs less to purchase those parts from an after-market parts supplier.