Q – What you can tell me about the different valve cover gasket kits for my 1988 911. Which ones do you recommend? I know that original Porsche parts are probably the best and when I saw some O.E.M. gaskets on the Albatross Parts website for $22.00 or so, I was impressed. Why would anyone pay twice that from the dealer when they can get the same part for less than half. I also saw reusable silicone gaskets, gaskets with a sealing bead and I was surprised at the wide variety and pricing. I need some power window switches and I noticed that switch prices are all over the map too. I found some O.E. switches for $15.00 and other sites wanted $30.00 for them. Tom
A – I’m with you. I need a compelling reason to pay more for the same thing so I contacted Albatross for their side of this story. I know that O.E. M. is the acronym for original equipment manufactured. When I scrolled down the site I found that the Porsche brand was indeed more expensive. Naturally I had to ask. Is O.E.M. genuine Porsche in a plain brown wrapper?
I called the 800 number and spoke to “Chuck” (not his real name) who said that the O.E.M kits were not made by Porsche. He told me that the O.E.M. brand is just a brand, not the origin of the part at all. He was not at liberty to tell me who made them either but he assured me that they were indeed an O.E.M manufacturer of gaskets.
All the kit contains gaskets, washers, and nuts. The lower priced gaskets are made to just “get the job done” and are manufactured as cheaply as possible. When you compare them to the Porsche gaskets, you can see the difference but it’s not easy to tell when the picture on your monitor is one inch by two inches. Then there is the hardware. Who knows if the washers and nuts are equivalent to the originals? I bet they are not made in Germany. Well maybe they are but the problem is, they can’t tell you the origin. I have been shipped stainless steel components that are magnetic. I had to wonder… how “stainless” are they? Off shore products are here to stay. After all, we just celebrated America’s independence with Chinese fireworks. But this “O.E.M.” brand reminds me of a line in a Frank Zappa tune: “Who you jivin’ with that cosmic debris?”
If we are only talking about gaskets or window switches, they are relatively cheap compared to labor. Since a valve adjustment takes a number of hours to do properly and carefully, I won’t risk my time to save $25. There is an old saying in this biz “If you don’t take the time to do it right the first time, somehow you always find the time to do it again.”
In general, why pay double just because it’s genuine? Do it when it matters, either personally for your peace of mind or for longevity or safety. In an application where a replacement part is good or better than an original, buy it. I’m guilty of looking for the good deal. I have been searching for that “good, cheap painter” for years! If I can get it wholesale, I do. The key is making an informed decision and that leads me to yet another Zappa line, “Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?” When your wallet and engine are at risk, don’t chance it. Some parts that seem to be a bargain often cost you double in the long run.
To answer your original question about my preference in kits: I prefer the German kits that have the Porsche tag, date coded but with the Porsche trademark removed. I like the gaskets with the factory applied bead of sealant. Those kits have the nice original gold cad plated nuts and the soft aluminum sealing washers.
As far as window switches, “Chuck” told me that Albatross only sells “Genuine Porsche” switches and they are over $30.00 each. I checked into the source of the cheaper ones and they are NOT Porsche, they are a crap shoot. You can tell how they feel and the plastic finish is different as well. At least an aftermarket switch won’t generally damage anything when it fails; it merely annoys you – MC