Will Aftermarket Tuneup Parts Save Money or Create Problems?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 22, 2016

Dear Car Talk:

I have a 2000 Chevy Monte Carlo with a 3.4-liter engine. I want to do a tuneup, and I need spark plugs, plug wires and coil packs. When I started shopping around, the price for this set of items came to anywhere between $299 and $699. The original-equipment stuff from the manufacturers is at the high end, and the aftermarket stuff, like NGK and MSD, is lower. Should I use the original-equipment stuff? Are aftermarket parts OK? And if so, which ones should I use?

-- Robert

Well, you certainly can't go wrong using the original equipment parts from the manufacturer (OEM parts). And if you haven't done so, you should call your dealer's parts department and ask for the prices. Prices vary tremendously from part to part. And while the dealer's prices often are more expensive than aftermarket sellers', they're not always.

It's also worth searching online for the OEM parts. You often can find them at steep discounts. The downside is that you have to wait a few days for delivery. But since you're doing the work yourself, and the car is currently running, that's not a problem.

On the other hand, aftermarket parts are a perfectly good option, too. Your car is 16 years old -- it's old enough to get a license and drive itself, Robert. So I also wouldn't have any reservations about using good-quality aftermarket parts. In our shop, in addition to original-equipment parts, we use Bosch, NGK and Nippon-Denso tuneup parts.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of those -- they're all good quality. In fact, those companies often make the "original equipment" parts for the manufacturers, including Chevrolet. I'm sure there are other good-quality aftermarket parts, but those are the ones we've had excellent experiences with.

So get the best prices you can on any of those, or the original-equipment parts, and do your tuneup. And don't be afraid to mix and match brands, Robert. They'll work well together. It's not like putting on a suit jacket with a bathing suit.

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