Manufacturer vs Aftermarket Parts
What to know prior to having your at the auto body shop after an accident.
The Great Debate
So here you are post-accident getting ready to sign off on your car’s collision repair service. But before you sign the paperwork you wonder if your auto body shop will be using replacement parts direct from the manufacturer or maybe an aftermarket dealer - therein lies the great debate. Your vehicle is most likely one of your more significant investments, so good for you for doing your homework! Let's start with the difference between manufacturer and aftermarket parts.
Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts (OEM)
Your vehicle's manufacturer makes OEM parts. OEM parts are the same ones that came with your vehicle off the assembly line. While manufacturer parts are typically more expensive than aftermarket parts, they are guaranteed by the manufacturer to fit the vehicle just as the original parts did pre-collision. This doesn’t automatically mean OEM are better than aftermarket parts; it just means they are the same as the original parts.
These parts come from third-party manufacturers either by an aftermarket brand, or generic brand-less parts. Many consumers are not aware that OEM parts and aftermarket parts are often the same exact part just with different branding. Even if they are not the same, often the quality of aftermarket is the same if not better than OEM parts. It’s essential that your auto body shop sources quality aftermarket parts if that's the route you choose.
Insurance Company Obligations
According to many industry experts (including insurance companies), the difference between OEM and aftermarket parts is negligible. So, it makes sense that most auto insurers push policyholders to use aftermarket parts due to being significantly cheaper in cost. If you are adamant on using OEM parts, then most insurance companies will not reimburse you for 100 percent of the cost. Customers are often required to pay the difference in price between the aftermarket parts and the OEM parts.
In rarer cases, some policies may cover the use of OEM parts, while others may only allow OEM parts depending on the year of the vehicle. You might see terms such as “like kind and quality,” which typically mean salvage parts.
In the end, OEM parts may not be an option depending on the insurance company or the policy details. This doesn't mean you have to go with aftermarket parts.. If you choose to go with OEM parts just be prepared for the possibility of shelling out more cash.
Massachusetts State Laws
The other factor to consider is state law regarding OEM parts. The state of Massachusetts states that if a repair of the damaged part interferes with vehicles operational safety, the insurance company will cover OEM parts. For non-safety parts, unless your insurance claim happens during the first 20,000 miles, OEM parts are not required. For vehicles with more than 20,000 miles, state regulation permits the use of used, reconditioned or aftermarket parts. Again, you as a consumer have the right to demand OEM parts, but you will be responsible for the difference in cost.
The Bottom Line
The debate between aftermarket and OEM parts will continue, but you as a consumer have the right to choose. The fact of the matter is that OEM parts are basically all created equal, whereas aftermarket parts are not. Aftermarket parts are a great way to save money without paying a hefty price tag for the manufacturer brand names. It's imperative to choose an auto body shop that has experience and knowledge when it comes to the parts process.