Wednesday, April 27, 2011

With a grain of salt...

I come across at least one claim every week on an internet forum where member, JoeIdunno, who has been an automotive modification aficionado for all of three weeks, is making the claim that PART ABC is "the best available" for any given application. I cannot say why I let it bother me, but it does...

Owning a G37, it is only natural that I spend a lot of time on the G boards. Thus, exposing myself to the absurdity and naivete of many misguided G owners. I do not pretend to possess a wealth of knowledge when it comes to modifying cars. I do not have unlimited funding or access to every part available for my car. Therefore, logically, I do not have experience with every part out there and would never make a claim that I could not back-up with some firsthand experience or reliable, factual documentation.

In basic terms, modifying any car is, in many ways, a gamble. Performance, reliability, dependability, and "bang for the buck" are all factors that influence one's decision to purchase aftermarket parts. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it does not. Sometimes we are satisfied with the end result and sometimes we are not. Reviews on the forums can be helpful, but I have concluded that, more often than not, forum reviews are strongly biased. They frequently involve a member attempting to rationalize, justify, or defend his modification purchase decision. They are hardly objective.

That said, there will always be debate over the superlative, whether it be in terms of sports teams, New York pizzerias, or car parts. When someone makes the claim that PART ABC is "the best," one must speculate to the motivation behind the person making this claim. I recently came across a forum post by a member stating that a certain aftermarket exhaust system is the "Best system available for the G37. Period."


Again, I realize one should take the opinions expressed via internet forum activity with a grain of salt, but some people make purchase decisions based on statements of forum members. In this sense, a forum can be a dangerous resource in which to place full credence and reliance. One cannot know whether there is a fifteen year-old kid hiding behind his computer screen who does not own a car or a seasoned part technician/analyst/researcher making a claim.

To make the statement that this particular exhaust system is the "best" one would have to have firsthand experience with every other system out there, as well as every other combination of exhaust components to go along with that system. Headers, high-flow catalytic converters, test pipes, Y-pipes, etc... It is ridiculous for someone to make this claim. Especially, and this is what irks me most about this particular claim, when the system in question is a clone of one of the more popular exhaust designs over the last ten years. The signature canister design of the HKS Hi-Power exhaust systems is one that this particular company (a company established in the 1990's, over twenty years after HKS) learned was in demand and, consequently, jumped on board the design train.

HKS is a trusted, well-respected Japanese manufacturer of automotive aftermarket parts. A pioneer in the industry. They put in the effort - research and development, tuning, marketing, monitoring customer reception/reaction, quality of product, appearance, and, most importantly, performance. There is a reason they have been among the top names in Japanese automotive tuning and performance for years.

This other company comes along, sees the design of HKS and realizes it's proven. People like it. It will sell. They make a copy of it with cheaper materials, cheaper costs, and sell it for less money. Their exhaust is mass-produced in Korea. The makers of PART ABC is simply a company looking to make a dollar off a consumer who sees two exhaust systems that, initially, look the same, but, in reality, are worlds different. On top of that, this company pays a fee to be a 'Sponsor' on a forum. This allows them to endlessly promote, taut, propagandize, and promulgate their product to a bunch of members who, frankly, are not incredibly knowledgeable in regards to the aftermarket parts industry. PART ABC is only further applauded and revered when the services of a decent photographer are utilized to turn mediocrity into perceived beauty. 

Hence, the "Best ever!" comments from the JoeIdunno members of the automotive forums...

I shouldn't let it bother me as much as it does... C'est la vie

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