When your car came from the factory, it was fitted with genuine or OEM parts and was designed to run using these parts. When any of these components stop working or are damaged for any reason, they need to be replaced.
Should you be informed if aftermarket parts are going to be used to replace damaged ones? You most certainly do. Whether it’s the insurance company paying for the repair, or you’re paying a mechanic to undertake the repair, it’s your right to be informed what goes into your car.
Why? There’s a huge difference between genuine or OEM parts and aftermarket parts. Even among aftermarket parts, there’s a lot to choose from. With these variations, quality also varies. Obviously you’d want the best replacement parts for your car, so you deserve to be consulted for decisions that may affect their quality.
What are aftermarket parts?
You will hear many things about aftermarket parts. Some of them true, most would be misconceptions. Know the truth about them:
What they are:
- Other terms synonymous with aftermarket parts are non-genuine, generic, non-OEM, OEM-like, OE-quality, competitive replacement, and pattern parts.
- They are new, unused parts manufactured purposely to replace damaged original parts.
- They’re designed to function just like the original.
- They’re made by third-party manufacturers, and some even come from other known brands (not your car brand).
What they’re not:
- They are not used parts salvaged from wrecked cars.
- They’re not necessarily inferior to genuine or OEM parts, although some aftermarkets could be classified as low-quality.
- They’re not made by the maker of your car or its subcontracted OEM (original equipment manufacturer).
- In general, they don’t have warranties, but some may have.
Why do mechanics and insurance companies use aftermarket parts?
Good-quality aftermarket parts are an excellent option for replacing old, damaged genuine parts for the following reasons:
- They’re inexpensive.
- They’re available.
- There’s a great variety to choose from.
The problem is not in using aftermarket parts. It’s in using low-quality aftermarket products.
The key here, obviously, is to make sure that the aftermarket part that your mechanic or insurance company uses is of high quality. It shouldn’t be just any kind of aftermarket component made by random companies. For this reason, there’s all the more reason to require mechanics and insurance companies to inform the car owner about decisions to use aftermarket components.
What can car owners do about the practice of using aftermarket parts?
If you’re dealing with your insurance company:
- Be proactive. Long before an accident happens, read the fine print in your car insurance’s policy. Some insurance policies may allow the use of aftermarket parts in satisfying the indemnity clause, while others will only allow the use of OEM parts. Some may also give the client the liberty to make a choice. If you think that your say on the matter is important, then make sure that the policy provides for it in the first place. There’s no point demanding that you be informed if the policy you’ve signed does not provide for it.
- Know the law where you live. What does the law in your state or locality say about the car owners’ rights when it comes to choosing the parts to be used for their cars? Some laws may stipulate that the insurer has to inform the client if he is using a part other than genuine or OEM parts. Some laws may even provide that your consent is sought before using any parts in repairing your vehicle. Still, in some places, the use of aftermarket parts for vehicles is strictly prohibited.
If you’re dealing with your car mechanic and you’re paying for repairs:
- Agree on the details before the start of any repair. Your ownership right entails knowing what the mechanic does with your car and what parts are used to replace the broken parts. There shouldn’t be any problem as long as you’re willing to pay the difference in cost between OEM and generic parts.
- Require CAPA or Q certification for aftermarket parts used. Not all aftermarket products are created equal. CAPA and Q certifications are quality marks indicating that the product passed the tests and standards set by these independent organisations. With the appropriate certifications, you can be assured that the parts used are functionally equivalent to the OEM part. This requirement also applies when you’re dealing with your car insurance company.
- Insist on OEM if that’s what you prefer. If you’re not convinced about the advantages of using aftermarket parts, you can insist that only OEM parts be used. Expect that a significant amount will be added to your bill, but that goes with OEM and genuine parts so you can’t argue with that.
Many car owners are concerned when aftermarket parts are used in repairing their cars. Their concern is valid, of course. A car is a system that depends on its various parts. As such, it is only as reliable as its weakest part, to paraphrase a saying.
However, the advantages of replacing genuine parts with aftermarket products cannot be downplayed. The fact that independent certifying bodies are organised worldwide is a clear indication that aftermarket automotive parts are becoming more and more indispensable.
With certifying agencies to ensure that these replacement parts are functionally equivalent to OEM, aftermarket options will become more acceptable to more people in the future. Still, you need to know about what’s being done to your car. Don’t take things sitting down and be more proactive. You ought to know your rights and do your part.