What Are Aftermarket Parts?

Every so often I get a phone call during the claims process about aftermarket parts. The usual questions are what are they, should they be used, and what happens to the value of your vehicle if you agree to use them. All are valid questions. The truth is that the use of aftermarket parts in repairing your damaged auto is really up to you. Keep in mind most insurance policy say that they will repair your car with like kind and quality parts.

First of all what are aftermarket parts? Aftermarket parts are parts that are fabricated by someone other than the vehicle manufacturer or someone who is certified by the manufacturer to fabricate replacement parts on their behalf. The theory is that aftermarket part manufacturers only fabricate parts that are “close” to the manufacturer specification but are not to the exact specification. Some believe that since these parts are not to the exact specification, then they may not function as intended. Again, this is all a theory and there are times that aftermarket parts function better than the original equipment. Unfortunately, you may not know how “close” the product is to the manufacturer’s specifications until the repairs are completed. By that time, you are looking at a hood that is higher on the left side than the right and regretting your decision. However, I can personally say I have not had anyone complain about how their car looks or runs when aftermarket parts have been used.

Will aftermarket parts really affect the value of your vehicle? That depends on the age of your vehicle and the quality of the supplied part. Let us say you own an eight-year-old Toyota Camry. The use of an aftermarket driver’s side door may have less of an effect on the value that vehicle than it would on a three-month-old Camry. By that same token, if you replaced that same door with an inferior aftermarket part, the age of the vehicle may not matter as much as an obviously crooked door. In case you are wondering, a crooked driver’s side door does affect the value of your vehicle regardless of the age.

Before you make a definite decision as to whether you should or should not use aftermarket parts, there are some advantages. Aftermarket parts are less expensive than manufacturer supplied parts which could reduce the overall repair cost to your vehicle, especially the cost that would be out of your pocket. A reduction in repair costs could be the difference in determining whether or not your vehicle is a total loss. This could be a major factor for those who do not have or want a car payment.

So should aftermarket parts be used? That is best answered by the owner who is affected by the use of aftermarket parts on their vehicle. Owners should take into consideration the cost savings, the time savings, and if their property will lose value as a result.

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