Name Brand Products – When Are They Worth It? – UnderhoodService

Name Brand Products – When Are They Worth It?

The controversy has existed ever since name brand products came into being - when are they worth it and when are off-brand or private label brands a good buy? The obvious answer is, "It depends." But the question remains, "On what?"

The controversy has existed ever since name brand products came into being – when are they worth it and when are off-brand or private label brands a good buy?

The obvious answer is, “It depends.” But the question remains, “On what?”

Clarification is offered by Ramon Nuñez, director of filtration for Bosch, joint venture owner of Purolator, a leading name brand in automotive filtration. And while you might expect his explanation to be a bit self-serving, it also serves as a thought-provoking line of thinking for deciding when any kind of name-brand product is a wiser choice.

According to Purolator’s Nuñez, there are cases where choices other than name brands may yield better value. “House-branded products may provide good value when their role is not related to safety or long-term durability, and experience shows their performance to be acceptable,” Nuñez said. “Things like paper towels, cellophane tape, and cleaning products come to mind.

But, absent such standards or mandates, how is someone to know the quality and durability of a sealed product like an oil filter where the inner workings are really only known to the manufacturer?

“That’s where branding comes in,” explained Nuñez, especially with products like filters where motorists and even technicians don’t ordinarily have access to the laboratories needed to properly assess the performance, durability, and value of a filter.”

“Experience and documented innovation are key considerations,” said Nuñez, “especially with a product like an engine oil or air filter that can have a major influence on the life of a costly engine. If your doctor says you need a operation, you’re certainly going to want a surgeon who has performed many operations, who knows what complications may arise and how to deal with them and, most importantly, who has a track record of successful outcomes.”  

And so it is with filtration. You want a company that pioneered filtration and has been in the business for nearly a century and has both a track record and a reputation to sustain. You want a company that offers a brand with knowledge, experience, and reliability.

Suppliers of off-brand and plain box products, on the other hand, typically have an undocumented heritage and little to lose. Some try and copy the brand leaders but in turn, provide an inferior product, while others may cut corners in terms of product quality in order to offer a lower price.

And so it comes down to what those in the medical profession like to refer to as the ‘risk/benefit ratio’ – does the potential benefit offset the potential risk?

It’s easy when you buy paper towels at the local dollar store. The risk is that you’ll blow a dollar on paper towels that don’t work very well, so that you’ll end up using them up twice as fast.

“When it comes to protecting a $4,000 automobile engine, you’re risking a major expense that could result from disintegrating oil filter media, a failed sealing gasket, or a stuck bypass valve that allows engine contaminants to remain unfiltered within your engine, all for the sake of saving a couple of dollars each time your oil is changed,” concludes Purolator’s Nuñez.

“Is the risk worth the benefit? You be the judge.”

To learn more about Purolator filters and the filtration category, visit

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