Saving money on a cheap filter can lead to more breakdowns, poorer performance and increased costs

When a fleet operator needs a replacement filter, there is sometimes a tendency to satisfy this so-called ‘distress purchase’ by simply seeking out the cheapest option. However, although every moment of vehicle downtime has a direct impact on bottom-line profitability, just taking a few moments to consider the long-term effects, and costs, of opting for a low-cost air, fuel or oil filter, can pay real dividends in reducing TCO (total cost of ownership). As more and more fleet operators switch on to this way of thinking, the same argument can be applied to motor factors, which can achieve a business boost by stocking quality filters alongside cheaper options.

The drivers behind the decision to buy a replacement part and, in particular, which brand to specify, have challenged the thinking of marketing professionals for years. Buying a high-quality filter conjures up images of a high price tag. However, while there is of course some cost associated with providing a high-quality part for the aftermarket – particularly one that is identical to its OE counterpart – the long-term reality is that it works out cheaper.

So, while there may be a few pounds or euros to be saved on steering away from quality replacement parts, there are major savings to be made elsewhere. For instance, if the selected filtration products underperform and lead to a vehicle breakdown, the costs could well consume the entire profitability of that truck for an entire year. Put simply, specifying an inferior filtration product will not help operators and maintainers protect their investment or keep it on the move.

A further issue is that modern diesel blends are evolving in line with tightening emissions regulations, and some lower cost aftermarket fuel filters fall short in areas such as separating emulsified water. In contrast, a filtration specialist such as Parker Racor works incessantly with research centres and universities to ensure its media structures can cope with the latest market challenges. Over 100 active patents are currently in place.

Racor can guarantee quality as it supplies parts to high specifications in terms of form, fit and performance – and always 100% compliant with the warranty conditions of the vehicle manufacturer. Indeed, Racor filters for the aftermarket are built on the same production lines as the company’s OE parts, using the same materials and the same media.

In contrast, there are many pitfalls associated with low-cost aftermarket filters, including the use of low-quality materials. Moreover, for those not familiar with aftermarket brands, the scale of choice available can be overwhelming, leading to a high possibility of purchasing a bad quality part. A further point is that, to keep costs down, some aftermarket parts are sold without a warranty.

When all is said and done, not all aftermarket parts are created equal, unlike those from Racor. And while this point should not escape fleet operators, motor factors should also keep it in mind when deciding which filters to promote.

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