Have you had your car repaired or some of its parts replaced recently? If so, then you must have a pretty good idea about how expensive replacement parts can get. Genuine parts bought directly from the carmaker will have prohibitive price tags as can be expected. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacements from the original part maker will cost less than these original-brand genuine parts, but they will not be readily or widely available.
Other than the issues on cost and availability of parts, the whole process of searching can take up so much of your time and be very stressful. A third alternative is fast-gaining in popularity among car owners and mechanics—it is the use of aftermarket parts as a solution to costly and unavailable replacement parts. But what are aftermarket parts, and what are the pros and cons of using them?
What are aftermarket car parts?
Aftermarket car replacement parts are new (unused) car parts, but which are not manufactured by the car company that built the car or by its OEM. They were produced by third-party manufacturers who may have acquired the rights to the original pattern or who made their own design for the part to function just like the original.
Car parts under this category are generally cheaper than OEM and way much cheaper than genuine parts. With their cheap price tags comes the general impression that they have questionable quality or that they are knockoffs. The quality of aftermarket parts, however, has markedly improved. They’re not sold as originals, so it’s not fair to say that they’re knockoffs.
What are the pros of using aftermarket car parts?
1. They are inexpensive.
They’re easy on the pocket—that’s the first obvious reason why people go for aftermarket parts. There’s no more need for you to break the bank to get your car back on the road in no time. You don’t pay for the branding (like you would for genuine parts). OEM parts, though a better deal than the genuine ones, are still significantly more expensive than their aftermarket equivalents.
2. They’re widely available.
Unlike an OEM part, which is made by only one (the original) manufacturer, aftermarkets are made by several third-party manufacturers. The absence of monopoly in aftermarket parts offers customers the opportunity to select. This healthy competition keeps the price reasonable since there’s no single manufacturer who controls the price. Their wide availability makes them easy for end-users to procure. You’ll likely find them in your local stores, unlike OEM and genuine parts which you can only get from selected distributors.
3. Their quality has greatly improved.
The quality of aftermarket parts varies greatly depending on who makes or sells them. You would need to do due diligence to find the perfect car part. This is when authentic reviews or personal testimonies become useful. Automotive forums also discuss this subject frequently. They offer you the opportunity to find reliable reviews and opinions from people who have actually used the aftermarket part that you’re interested in. If you know a mechanic that you really trust, ask for his opinion because his experience will be very useful to you.
4. They offer buyers a wide selection of the same car component.
The aftermarket category provides end-users with a wide selection of parts. Aftermarket manufacturers use their own patterns for a particular car component, so don’t expect them to be uniformly designed. Some third-party manufacturers may have acquired the rights to the OEM’s pattern, so you may want to search for that first.
Other manufacturers, however, may have chosen another path and made innovations to overcome inherent design flaws in the original. They’d look different from each other for sure. The common thing that they have is that they are all designed to function like the original.
What are the cons of using aftermarket panels?
1. They rarely come with a warranty.
Two of the reasons why genuine parts—and most OEM parts—are pricey are the warranty and aftersales service that go with them. Should the guaranteed parts fail, there’s that big company standing behind them. You can’t expect these offerings from cheaply-priced aftermarket parts.
There are aftermarket manufacturers or sellers, however, who may offer warranty for their product. This should cause a little increase in the price, but you should consider this aspect when comparing several aftermarket parts side by side.
2. It will not be easy finding a high-quality aftermarket part.
Since there are tons of aftermarket panels available in the market, this has given room for so many inconsistent qualities. You will encounter panels that are produced from poor quality materials. Manufacturers who may have produced high-quality parts before may not be able to maintain its standards in the long term.
Aftermarket parts may also come from known brands. Look for these makers since their products will have better quality than most and may even come with a warranty.
3. They may not match your car’s system.
Since aftermarket panels are not produced by your vehicle manufacturer, there is a great possibility that the component that you buy will not be compatible with your vehicle.
Aftermarket components afford you the ease and affordability of getting defective car parts replaced. There will be no waiting for the ordered part to arrive. Aftermarket parts have come a long way since they first came out of the market. They were nothing but cheapos before, but many aftermarket makers have already made past that label now.
They are not only cheap alternatives—they may also offer new solutions. For instance, if an original car part has a tendency to cause heating, a third-party manufacturer may produce an aftermarket part that solves the heating issue. Where the original maker failed, the third-party manufacturer could always improve on.
If you choose to go the aftermarket way, however, it has to be your responsibility to weigh things carefully. Are the pros considerably heavier than the cons? Would you be able to part with the peace of mind afforded by a warranty?
Aftermarket car parts are definitely a choice to consider. Aside from providing end-users more alternatives, they also act as an equalizer that keeps monopolies from getting stronger. Looking ahead, we see them becoming a more sound automotive solution than they are today.