What Are Aftermarket Parts?

Are Aftermarket Parts Safe? Why Are They Used? What Are Your Rights?

Mechanic inspecting for aftermarket or OEM parts on car
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What Are Aftermarket Parts?

The definition of aftermarket parts is replacement parts that are made by a company other than the car's original manufacturer. Aftermarket parts are also known as:

  • Generic parts
  • Non-OEM parts
  • Competitive replacement parts

When Are Aftermarket Parts Used?

When it comes to repairing a car after a car accident, the insurance company may have the option to use aftermarket parts instead of original manufacturer parts (OEM). Many people are concerned about this since the aftermarket parts are not made by the original manufacturer. However, it is worth learning more about aftermarket parts before making your decision as to whether or not aftermarket parts are a good or bad thing.  

Are Aftermarket Parts Bad? Pro's and Con's of Aftermarket and OEM

Aftermarket or generic parts have been the topic of debate among people for years. People worry that aftermarket parts may not be as good, safe or reliable as Original Manufacturer Parts (OEM). This is a misconception.

Aftermarket parts are increasingly being hailed as potentially superior parts by some car enthusiasts. Over the years, aftermarket parts have gained popularity and acceptance as good alternatives to manufacturer parts, and in some cases, it is said that aftermarket parts may be superior because the manufacturers of generic or aftermarket parts may use more expensive materials or more advanced technology than a car manufacturer. 

Aftermarket parts may provide advantages over OEM parts. For example, they often have longer warranties.

Do Aftermarket Parts Create a Problem With the Vehicle Warranty?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, aftermarket or generic parts should not interfere with your vehicle's warranty and are often manufactured by the original OEM parts manufacturer as well.

Are Aftermarket Parts Safe? 

Data indicates that aftermarket parts are safe, according to the IIHS there are no safety implications of using cosmetic crash parts or aftermarket parts, with the possible exception of hoods which could have structural implications. 

Are There Different Types of Aftermarket Parts?

Yes, there are different kinds of aftermarket parts. When it comes to structural car parts, you will want to make sure that they are "CAPA" certified. Certified Automobile Parts Association (CAPA) has high standards and guidelines for aftermarket parts. They run tests on the production, quality of materials and integrity of the parts. In order to be certified CAPA, the testing that the parts go through must determine that the parts are “functionally equivalent” to OEM parts, which is a much stronger term than the requirement of being of "like kind and quality" that some insurance companies use as their standard of evaluation for a "replacement part". Like kind and quality do not necessarily address function or crash test performance. Aftermarket parts that are certified with CAPA have passed numerous stages of quality testing before they are CAPA certified, so you may want to ask about this if you are given an option or will have to use aftermarket or generic parts.

Do Aftermarket Parts Have Any Benefit?

 According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), aftermarket parts save consumers 1.5 billion dollars and the average price of an OEM part costs about 60 percent more than the average price of an aftermarket part.

Because of the cost savings of aftermarket parts, they are used by insurance companies and body shops when repairing vehicles after accidents. 

When aftermarket parts are used by insurance companies or consumers it can save money on the cost of repairs, in the end, it saves insurance companies and consumers money. If insurance companies pay out less in claims and find ways to cost-effectively repair cars after a car accident, then it reduces their total losses. When total losses paid out by insurance companies are less, then consumers benefit from paying less for insurance overall. When insurers pay high losses, they may have to adjust their overall car insurance rates and this does not just affect you, it affects all consumers.

  • Generic or aftermarket parts may be more readily available than original manufacturer parts, so it saves the consumer time in how long they wait before the car gets repaired.
  • Aftermarket parts may also have longer warranties than original car parts or OEM parts

Aftermarket Parts and Your Rights

Because the insurance industry is regulated at the state level, the decision to use or not to use aftermarket parts is determined state-by-state. Some states allow insurance companies the use of generic or aftermarket parts without consumers consent, some states require the consumer to be notified that non-OEM, generic or aftermarket parts were used on their vehicle, others require consumer consent for the use of aftermarket parts, and in a few states the use of aftermarket parts to repair a vehicle is banned.

A large majority of body shops do use aftermarket parts to repair damaged vehicles.

Can You Make An Insurance Company Use OEM Parts Instead of After-Market Parts After an Accident?

Every insurance company is different, so you should ask your insurance adjuster what kind of parts will be used in the repair and ask if you can have OEM parts. Some insurance companies will allow you to use OEM parts or may offer you the option with additional costs attached. 

After a Car Accident: Should You Use Aftermarket Parts on Your Car?

Aftermarket parts are less expensive than replacing with an original equipment manufacturer part.

How Will You Know If Your Car is Being Repaired With Aftermarket Parts?

Since the many insurance companies may use aftermarket parts for collision repairs, if you are concerned about this practice there are steps you can take to be aware and to make a decision if you want aftermarket parts used your car:

1. Check with your insurance company to determine what policies are in place for the use of aftermarket parts. Some states have laws about generic or aftermarket part practices, and each insurance company may have different conditions in the policy wordings. 

2. You can check with your state insurance commissioner to determine if the insurance company is following state policies on the use of aftermarket parts. You can also check this guide about the law and aftermarket parts, some states require that you must be advised on your estimate when aftermarket parts are being used, some ban their use. It is worth asking your state insurance commissioners office what law applies to you.

3. If you find out that the insurance company uses aftermarket parts, you can ask that OEM parts be used. If the insurance company denies the request then the alternative would be to shop around for an insurance company that has an aftermarket crash parts policy that is more desirable.