A huge problem we all face in our industry is finding alternate parts that work for heavy trucks when you need them fast. And it’s not just when a truck is in for a regularly scheduled service. It’s when your truck breaks down on the road, far from any of your fleet stations, with a full load that’s got to be in Dallas by tomorrow, and you need a quick fix to get it up and running again ASAP.
That’s when you turn to a “will fit” or “will work” part. Knowing full well that it’s not a warranty part, and your warranty company will never cover your claim. Or that you’ll have to take the truck off the road and replace the alternate part once again, with the correct part number, just so you can file a claim, and not have to eat the cost.
It’s a major hassle for what could be a minor part. Not to mention the money you’re shelling out, and all the time lost with your truck in the service bay, instead of out hauling a load.
The only way to get around this problem is to find an alternate heavy truck part that not only “will work,” but can be cross referenced with the OEM so you know that it is form-fit-function identical. Because a lot of the time, that alternate part is the exact same part, made by the exact same manufacturer, even though it has a different description and number.
You know how that happens: A part manufacturer makes bearings. Several heavy truck makers buy from them to use when building their trucks. The same bearing becomes an OEM part for several of the OE’s. But each OE gives the part a different name, description and part number. Even though they are same part but have different part numbers, warranty companies may not consider them OEM, or warranty acceptable. Claim denied. Unless you can cross reference the part, and prove it is “Form, Fit and Function Identical."
But that cross-referencing involves hours of digging through piles of catalogs and spreadsheets that are often inaccurate and outdated. And part numbers keep changing. OE’s supersede the part number, dealers create their own part numbers and pretty soon, it’s almost impossible to know for sure what cross references to what. Fortunately, there is a solution that allows you to look up that alternate part and trace it right back to the component manufacturer.
The alternate heavy truck parts database form Parts River, for example, only takes the cross-reference numbers directly from the source – the component manufacturer – instead of from the supplier. This is critical to ensure the parts are all correctly traced back, giving you support for your warranty claim. (And ensuring your truck gets the right alternative part, so you’re not creating a bigger service problem down the road.)
Sometimes circumstances don’t allow for the ideal: replacing your heavy truck parts with OEM parts. But by accurately cross referencing the alternate parts you have to use with the original part number from the manufacturer, you can ensure that your warranty claim will go through, saving you time and money.
How have you handled finding alternate parts that work for your heavy trucks? Let us know in the comments below.