Is it OK to Use Aftermarket Car Parts?

January 20, 2016

car part

If you’ve ever had to replace a part in your Lexus, Honda, Toyota or any other make, you probably faced the dilemma of buying a cheaper aftermarket part instead of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part. Price is often a concern when it comes to car parts, which is why many people decide to buy aftermarket parts. Are they really that different? Our Annapolis auto repair team is happy to explain the difference between the various replacement parts available for your vehicle.

What’s Special About OEM Parts?

OEM parts are designed and tested by the vehicle’s manufacturer. They are made to fit your vehicle and work with your vehicle’s systems to ensure top performance. When you pay more for an OEM part, you are not just paying for the brand name—you are paying for reliability and peace of mind, because the manufacturer’s reputation is on the line. That’s why at Choisser Import Auto Services we use only OEM parts when we repair your Honda, Lexus, Acura or Toyota. From our own experience, OEM parts do make a difference in your vehicle’s performance and customer satisfaction.

Where Do Aftermarket Parts Come From?

Meanwhile, according to the 2011 research by Babcox Media, other body shops report that they use aftermarket parts for about 40% of the repairs they perform. Aftermarket parts are new parts produced by manufacturers other than the car maker. These companies often have to reverse-engineer a part to make it look and work as close to the original as possible.

Keep in mind that the materials and the process used to make aftermarket parts don’t have to comply with the same quality standards Toyota or Honda uses for their parts. These aftermarket parts don’t have to be crash-tested either. They may look slightly different from the original parts and sometimes have slight color variations or an imperfect fit.

What About Certified Parts?

Sometimes, you may come across aftermarket parts that claim to be certified. Be sure to check who is the certifying authority. In the U.S. the only independent authority on such certifications is the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA). Manufacturers of aftermarket parts send their parts to CAPA where they are tested for fit, safety, quality and other parameters based on CAPA’s standards. A CAPA-certified part can be considered the middle ground between the OEM parts and non-certified aftermarket parts. Although buying certified parts can be a bit safer, you still don’t know whether CAPA standards match or exceed manufacturer standards.

Is it Worth Paying More for an OEM Part?

At Choisser, we think that OEM parts are worth the extra cost. They are usually backed by better warranties and come with better customer service in case there are problems with a part. But most importantly, they are made to fit your car and seamlessly integrate with its internal systems to ensure maximum safety.

It’s rare that we have to send back a replacement OEM part because it was defective, failed or didn’t fit. As other shops reported in the Bobcox Media research, their return rate for aftermarket parts is about 4% higher than for OEM parts.

At the end of the day, of course, it’s your car and you are free to do what you want with it. If you are replacing some non-essential component such as a piece of plastic on your dashboard, it may be OK to buy an aftermarket part. However, if it’s a complex and vital part that affects appearance, safety or performance of your car, it makes sense to go with OEM. After all, you bought a specific brand of car because you trust the manufacturer, their process and their parts—why get a different part now?

Know Which Parts Your Mechanic Uses

When you drop your car off at your local Maryland auto repair shop, be sure to ask your mechanic about the parts they use. As the owner of this vehicle, you have the rights and the choice to put whatever parts you want in it. Sometimes, insurance companies may pressure auto repair facilities to use specific parts. Don’t hesitate to ask questions! If your mechanic doesn’t use OEM parts, take your Honda, Toyota, Acura or Lexus to Choisser and we’ll be happy to accommodate!

What Our Customers Say..

"Robert (Rob) Choisser has been servicing my 1998 Honda CRV for nearly 3 years. I have never had better, more honest service done on any of my cars. Rob is extremely thorough in his work and more than fair in his pricing, I would recommend his work to anyone in my family and to my friends. He is a real credit to his profession, his family and friends."

- Gary, Owings, MD

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