Most technicians have installed remanufactured parts in their career with excellent success. Remanufacturing has been around almost as long as vehicle manufacturing and offers some significant advantages over aftermarket new or original equipment parts.
Most technicians and end users consider cost to be the driving factor for the acceptance and success of remanufactured products. But how does the quality of remanufactured parts compare to new parts? Can reman be as good as or even better than new? Let's take a look at the remanufacturing process and some of the factors that drive new part quality.
The Remanufacturing Process
Once market demand has been established to justify developing a remanufactured product, the next step in the development cycle is to analyze the product's failure modes. That is, what is causing this product to fail in the field, and how can it be corrected?
Remanufacturers have the unique perspective of being able to analyze hundreds or thousands of cores and used parts to characterize common failure modes. Once this is done, the remanufacturer develops procedures to bring the component back into OEM specifications. Often this includes upgrading the original materials with higher quality materials to prevent the same type of failure. This benefits not only the remanufacturer by reducing warranty claims but also the technician and end user because the part may last longer than the OEM part it replaced. Because much of the original component content is reused in the remanufacturing process, particularly the parts that don't wear out, the end result is a high quality part at a significantly lower cost than the new aftermarket or the new original equipment part.
One might ask, why doesn't the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) use better quality materials to begin with? The short answer is cost versus quality. What does this mean? Let's take a look using a specific product that GB remanufactures - fuel injectors.
The Cost Versus Quality Quandary
The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or vehicle manufacturer purchases components from numerous Original Equipment Suppliers (OES). A single vehicle model may be comprised of components sourced from hundreds of suppliers. This includes everything from fuel injectors, interior parts, tires and water pumps, to name a few.
The OES receives a request for bid for components from the OEM. This typically includes a design and performance specification that must be met as well as a target price in some circumstances.
Usually, several suppliers will be competing for the bid on the same component. This competitive bidding process encourages suppliers to meet the OEM's design requirements at the lowest possible cost of manufacture. If an OES can save pennies on a part it can mean higher profit margins for them, and/or a better chance at winning the OEM's bid. Considering each vehicle may use 4, 6 or 8 injectors, multiplied by several hundred thousand vehicles, these pennies can add up to be a significant amount of money pretty quickly.
However, there is a down side to this approach. As the OES continues to push the cost envelope it can sometimes lead to lower quality parts. Two things can happen; the OEM may set the bar too low when it comes to quality or life expectancy or the OES chooses to use the “bare minimum” when it comes to the quality of the raw materials that are contained within the part.
Design & Material Failures
As a leading remanufacturer of fuel injectors, GB sees almost every type of fuel injector that has been manufactured. An example of a design or material failure exists on fuel injectors used by Nissan vehicles in the mid 90’s through the early 2000's. These injectors are susceptible to coil failure resulting in a shorted or open coil, causing the injector to become inoperative. The root cause of this is the quality of the insulating enamel used on the wire within the coil. The thermal cycling and constant expanding and contracting of the wire causes the enamel to separate from the wire. This allows the copper wire to become exposed, resulting in the windings becoming shorted together, causing failure.
When GB replaces the coil in the remanufacturing process it uses a wire and enamel rated at a much higher temperature than the OES used, which is far less susceptible to separating from the wire. Although the new coil used by GB may cost more than the OES coil, the end result is an injector that costs less than the new one because of the reuse of components that don't wear out, such as the metal injector body. The end result is an injector that is better in quality than the one provided to the OEM by the OES, at a reduced cost.
Sometimes an acceptable design may fail as a result of its use in a specific environment or application. For example, the fuel injectors on the Jeep 4.0L straight-six engine had a high failure rate as a result of o-ring failure. On this engine, the exhaust manifold is on the same side of the engine as the intake manifold, where the injectors are mounted. The positioning of the injector results in the injector being subjected to higher temperatures than the manufacturer originally intended. The resulting thermal cycling and high-heat conditions cause internal o-ring failure resulting in leakage. The same injector used on a V6 or V8 engine has a lower failure rate due to lower operating temperatures. From the stand point of a remanufacturer, it would make more sense to replace the o-rings with a higher quality material such as Viton which can operate at higher temperatures. While this may only cost a few cents more per injector, it ensures the injector will not fail for the same reason as the OEM injector. Again, this results in a better quality product at a lower cost.
Advantages of Remanufacturing
Technicians and customers are drawn to remanufactured products because of their lower cost compared to new aftermarket or new OEM parts. As you can see, lower cost does not mean lower quality, and in fact, in many cases it can mean “better than new”.
The cost advantage of GB Remanufacturing's fuel injectors is so significant that you can often replace the entire set of injectors for the same cost of replacing one or two new OEM injectors. This ensures a more complete repair because all the injectors will flow the same and the old injectors that are on the fringe of failure are being replaced. Often the labor to replace one injector versus the entire set is minimal.
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