A common problem we run into frequently is that we will recommend a particular part, by part number, and the customer will show up with a completely different part.
The typical explanation is that is is "basically" the same , but cheaper. It's never cheaper.
The cheaper part is often much more different than the real deal than you would ever realize.
A good example is choosing a radiator.
For a specific application, we recommend a brand name, dual pass aluminum 2-row large tube radiator that costs about $350. The vehicle owner found a similar item that was advertised a direct fit, but at a $150 price point.
There were multiple differences between the radiators that caused major build issues for getting it to fit and perform properly.
The cheap radiator appears to be a multi-pass unit. We have concerns that this will cause too much flow resistance and the engine will not cool properly. We can't be certain of the actual design of the radiator because it was not stated by the manufacturer and the way in which it was built does not show the internal baffling.
Plus, as you can see above, the radiator fill cap had to be removed for hood clearance.
Cheap Chinese parts do not use standard sizes. The factory radiator hoses for this vehicle are all 1.5" in diameter. The cheap radiator connections measure 1.58".
- This makes it very difficult to get the radiator hoses on, and they could tear at some point due to being stretched. This can only be fixed by welding on new hose connections.
The location of the inlet and outlet are not correct compared to stock. The lower radiator hose is pointed right into an engine mount requiring modification to the radiator to be able to use it.
These issues meant that we could not use the radiator as it was. Due to time constraints, we could not order a new radiator and had to modify the cheap one to work.
- With all of the modifications and repairs needed, the actual cost of the radiator ends up being several hundred dollars more than the higher priced radiator that was originally recommended.
The take-away from this situation is to learn that parts are recommended because we know they will work. If you find a cheaper alternative, let us know before you purchase it so we can verify it is a good substitution.
Saving a little bit on parts can end up costing you a lot more in labor to get it to work.