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Audi parts: aftermarket vs. OEM

There’s something about German engineering, and Audi owners know and love it. That driving experience includes tight handling no matter the road or weather, smooth suspension that hugs the road and eats the bumps, and a high-quality engine that won’t quit.

“Audi owners tend to be loyal,” says Chris Grasso of PartsGeek LLC. “Whether they drive a basic Audi A4 or a sporty Quattro four-wheel-drive Audi S4, or anything in between, these owners appreciate their cars. They tend to drive them for 100,000+ miles and hang onto them for years.”

The basic Audi families were established in the mid-1990s as high-performance executive cars, including the compact Audi A4, through the mid-size Audi A6, to the full-size Audi A8. The two smaller sizes are available in either sedans or station wagons, with the Audi A4 and Audi A6 offering front-wheel-drive and the Audi Quattro A4 and Audi Quattro A6 boasting four-wheel-drive. The full-size Audi A8 and sporty Audi S4 coupe are only available with the Quattro four-wheel-drive.

But like all European imports, Audis suffered under a reputation for being expensive to maintain and repair. In the past, when owners had little alternative to purchasing parts from the dealership or an expensive specialty import store, that may have been true. But with the advent of the Internet and a thriving aftermarket offering discount Audi parts, owners have more alternatives.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) parts for Audi cars are made by Audi or one of the companies that manufacture components for Audi. (It’s important to understand that because of ISO quality certification requirements, no car is manufactured strictly by one company in one location any more. If they were, it would be too easy for a workers’ strike to stop production, injuring the parent company or even endangering current owners who require replacement parts to keep their Audi A6 or Audi Quattro A6 on the road. It’s also believed that competition among several companies maintains quality standards better than a monopoly by one corporation.)

When these OEM parts are made for Audi by another corporation, they are first shipped to Audi, then packaged under their label before being transported to dealerships or auto parts stores for resale. That adds an extra layer of middlemen and shipping to the supply chain, raising prices that are already at the mercy of exchange rates, import duties, and dealership markups.

“And that’s no way to save money!” says Grasso of PartsGeek.

Aftermarket parts, on the other hand, are made by other auto parts manufacturers to the same standards as Audi OEM parts. Many Audi owners are justifiably nervous about entrusting their “babies” to aftermarket replacement parts, mainly because of worries over quality and maintaining their car’s level of performance. Although purchasing discount Audi parts online requires the usual due diligence you’d perform when buying anything online, there’s one easy way to check each company’s quality standards—by checking their ISO certification.

The International Standards Organization operates in 161 countries around the world which have voluntarily accepted the need for uniform quality standards in manufacturing, even across international borders. As the global economy has become more established, these agreed-upon production standards have been widely adopted. They’re maintained by certified ISO auditors who visit factories and monitor their operations.

If an aftermarket manufacturer of discount Audi parts has been certified by ISO, it’s an achievement to be proud of and that certification will be plastered all over their website. If that certification isn’t there, it wouldn’t necessarily be a reason not to purchase that company’s parts. But it might be a cause for concern and deeper investigation. However, if the ISO certification is on the company’s website, you know in advance that you’re getting a certain quality level. While that alone wouldn’t be sufficient justification for buying that company’s products, it’s certainly a good thing to know.

In addition, another factor to consider is the convenience and availability of automotive service. With Audi dealers few and far between even in a big city, there’s the issue of getting the car there and getting yourself back home, if the repairs require more than a day. By contrast, repair and service facilities that can work on Audis are more numerous and accessible, and often less expensive if you purchase the parts online for them to install.

“If you prefer a high-quality German car but get sticker shock looking at a Mercedes or BMW, consider an Audi,” says Grasso. “They can be great cars—just ask anyone who owns one!” Wondering which Audi might be right for you? Stop by and check out our NorCalCars Audi Reviews and Specifications.