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Value-Grade Hubs Cost More In The Long Run


3/12/2009

 
Counterman magazine talked recently to Neil Hogan, SKF Product Manager, Vehicle Service Market. Neil is an ASE Certified Master Technician with more than 30 years in the automotive industry.

In light of the economic situation, it’s a safe bet that consumers will try and save money on car maintenance. This will likely mean greater willingness to opt for off-brand and value-grade components including hub units. Why is this a bad idea?

A few reasons come to mind. First is safety. No matter how bad the economy gets, you just can’t put a price on your safety and the safety of your family. Can you imagine if a loved one was seriously injured because you wanted to save a few dollars?

The other has to do with time and money. While a value grade hub may seem like a bargain at first, there’s a good chance that in the long run, it will cost you more. This is because it won’t last as long and because, generally speaking, premium hub units last up to 100,000-plus miles while value grade hub units last up to about 25,000 to 35,000 miles. So if you have to replace the hub three times as often, you’re paying more, not saving more.

Why is safety an issue with value grade hubs?

For a number of reasons. Premium components are manufactured to OE specs, using high quality materials throughout, from the steel to the seals and lubrication to the sensors. This robust construction creates a more reliable foundation for the entire wheel end system and, so, helps prevent early and unexpected wheel end failure. A hub that fails prematurely can put people at risks, whether it’s loss of vehicle control or breaking down unexpectedly.

Another risk factor has to do with braking and traction. Many of these poorly made hubs use inferior sensors and, often, poorly insulated sensors. Sensors are critical to the proper functioning of things like ABS and traction control systems. If the sensor fails, these systems can too, resulting in less control or even loss of control of the vehicle. And of course this can be very dangerous for the driver and passengers.

It seems safety is an important part of SKF premium hub assemblies, what other features are important for SKF?

We are also always moving forward with new advances in designs to bring the customer the best product in the industry. SKF’s new X-Tracker hub is an example of this advancement. This unitized assembly brings patented designs to our hubs. Just a few of the new features of the X-Tracker hub are increased sealing capabilities to keep out water ingression, stronger flange design to provide increased durability, and superior retention design that helps increase the number of rolling elements for a smoother, safer ride.  

It’s difficult for many people, even seasoned technicians, to tell the difference between value grade and premium grade hubs at first glance. Are there things they should look for?

Yes, it can be difficult to see the difference, because in many cases the inferior aspects have to do with things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. This includes the quality and heat treating of the steel. And, of course, the bearing and seal are hidden within the unit. Lubricants look the same but vary tremendously in their ability to protect the moving parts.
  Previous Comments
avatar   Spencer   star   8/20/2009   9:06 AM

I agree with the up selling comment, its hard when they carry the same warranty. People view warr term as to represent the quality of product. For example look at brake pads, most places have one 1yr set and 3-5 LLT options. Most people just dont understand material differences. As far as the high return rate mentioned above on the premium hubs, most of that is probably installer errors, thought talking to customers most are torquing the hub nut against the vehicles weight on the ground preloading the bearing incorrectly.



avatar   Ralph   star   8/10/2009   2:22 PM

Frank, hit your caps lock key.



avatar   Dave Elliott   star   7/16/2009   1:34 PM

Here's where the rubber meets the road. The hub bearings we have at O'Reilly are BCA and Master Pro. The BCA are better quality. Both carry a one year warranty. The Master pro has presented us with more than one problem. First they were a few thousandths too small of a hole for the splines. Recently, there have been issues for ABS sensors not functioning properly. Experience has been that most shops will listen to these explanations and take the better bearing. Especially since the price is not that great a difference to installer shops. Now the over the counter customer, doing it himself, may not care if he has to do it twice.



avatar   Rich   star   6/29/2009   3:06 PM

I can say there is about a 60-70 percent return rate on the 'b' line hub bearings that I've sold within a 9 month period. I don't recommend them, but price sells jobs sometimes and that is what shops want- to sell jobs and make money.



avatar   danny   star   6/26/2009   11:45 AM

i say sell the customer what they want. sometimes you can explain the differences till your head falls off and they will still take the cheap one.



avatar   jim   star   6/8/2009   7:52 PM

Yea i agree that the cheaper hubs and any kind of part can cause more problems than you want to deal with. Its a lot better to go with the higher priced brand because like he said the higher part will last a lot longer than the cheaper parts, and it will also cost you,less in the long run.



avatar   Betie   star   5/14/2009   6:03 PM

Alright boys... wow... Roy that is a tough one because some people have good experiences with the cheap parts... it isn't that every cheap part is going to fall apart or cause problems it is just more likely to happen to happen with the cheap part the with the higher quality parts.. all you can do is explain the difference and ricks and let him know that even tho he has had good experiences with the cheap stuff they are more likely to fail and it would really suck to have to change a hub out more then the one time.



avatar   Steve   star   5/12/2009   1:41 PM

The problem I have with up selling is that both the SKF and cheaper brand both have a one year warranty. It is hard to explain the difference in quality and the fact that both products have the same backing by the manufacturer.



avatar   ROBERT GOODSON   star   4/23/2009   2:40 PM

I was under the impression that all the parts we sell at our store have to meet or exceed original equipment specs. If this is true where is the safety issue?



avatar   William   star   3/27/2009   12:20 PM

First off, How old are you guys? Acting like children. Secondly, When I explain the difference to most of my customers, they usually go with the better quality parts, because I explain about the quality and safety aspect of using cheap parts.



avatar   FRANK   star   3/22/2009   2:25 PM

BOY SOUNDS LIKE A BUNCH OF LITTLE CRY BABIES ON HERE! I THOUGHT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE PROFESSIONALS NOT TEENAGERS!!!



avatar   Roy   star   3/20/2009   1:37 PM

I had a friend, call him Lord Balthazar, that will only use cheaper grade parts and says they work and last as long. What can a parts professional say to an hombre like that?



avatar   dan   star   3/19/2009   10:50 AM

22 years boys and girls



avatar   George   star   3/19/2009   9:05 AM

I think Scott's mom still dresses him.



avatar   ryan   star   3/18/2009   8:02 PM

i agree with lee.



avatar   Evans   star   3/18/2009   4:38 PM

Sounds like Dan's been selling parts for about a week! Still setting on a pretty high horse.



avatar   Paul   star   3/16/2009   11:00 AM

Must we chastise someone for sharing their experience? Shame on you!



avatar   Corey   star   3/16/2009   10:29 AM

My point was to say that it's more difficult, not impossible. Customer service is the reason all of us are in the business to start with...I hope. In the past, up-selling was as easy as saying "We offer our premium replacement which is MADE IN THE U.S.A.". Now our shelves are stocked with very little that is made here. Please don't make the assumption that I believe all foreign made products are inferior, That is not the case. I'm attempting to point out a FACT that it is harder to convince a customer one product is better when they're both made in Communist China. By the way , Toyota and Lexus are made here in the good ole' U.S.A.



avatar   LEE   star   3/16/2009   9:37 AM

WHY ARE WE SELLING A PRODUCT WHERE SAFETY IS EVEN AN ISSUE???



avatar   BETIE    star   3/15/2009   5:14 PM

IT CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT TO SELL THE PREMIUM HUBS TO SOME OF THE CUSTOMERS WE GET IN OUR STORES, HOWEVER MOST CUSTOMERS THAT YOU EXPLAIN THE QUALITY DIFFERENCES TO ARE MORE LIKELY TO GO WITH THE HIGHER QUALITY HUBS, IT GOES ALONG WITH SELLING BOTH SIDES AT THE SAME TIME. I HAVE CUSTOMERS WHO COME IN AND ARE CHEAP WHEN IT COMES TO BUYING PARTS AND IT SOMETIMES ARE A LITTLE MORE EFFORT TO CONVINCE THEM THAT IT MAY BE HIGHER PRICED AND MADE IN THE SAME PLACE BUT THE QUALITY OF THE PART IS GREATER BUT IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS YOU WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THEM THE BEST PARTS... AND IT GOES WITH MORE THEN JUST HUBS...



avatar   scott   star   3/14/2009   2:01 PM

hey corey , can you tell us the difference between a lexus and a toyota perhaps ?



avatar   dan   star   3/14/2009   1:45 PM

i've never had a problem up selling a premium quality hub . a customer either wants to take that chance or he doesn't .then again , they value my opinion , how about yours ?



avatar   Corey   star   3/12/2009   1:50 PM

I find it increasingly difficult to up sell my customers to a "premium" hub. My problem lays in the fact that both are clearly labeled MADE IN CHINA. I fully understand the argument that one is manufactured under tighter guidelines, but try telling that to a customer that is clearly focused on the difference in price. Like I said, It's difficult.















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