So you’ve been in a fender bender and you take it to the shop that your insurance company suggested. Naturally, the shop is going to try to make the repairs to your car as cheaply as possible because that is what they are obligated to do per contract with the insurance company. That’s best for everyone, right? The insurance company saves money, the shop handles the claim for you, and you save money on your next claim. Everybody wins.
Or do they? In order to make repairs to your vehicle as cheaply as possible, your shop will likely use aftermarket parts because they are usually made overseas and they’re less expensive than getting them from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Besides, it’s more or less the same part, right? Just because it’s made by someone else doesn’t mean the part isn’t as good, does it?
In most cases, aftermarket parts are NOT as good as the comparable OEM part. In fact, in some instances, using an aftermarket part can compromise the safety of any one in the vehicle. In an article by Consumer Reports, Ford engineers were cited as saying that they found disturbing results when they tested various aftermarket bumper parts used to repair Ford vehicles. Rather than replacing the bumper with the high quality materials Ford normally uses, shops replaced them with aftermarket parts, made of low-grade steel and plastic. According to Mike Warwood, Ford’s parts marketing and remanufacturing manager, “Differences in material could result in a difference in the timing of the air-bag deployment. The air bag might deploy earlier than it should or later than it should. Or it might deploy when it shouldn’t or not deploy at all when it should.”
While aftermarket parts are a cheaper alternative to repairing your vehicle with an OEM part, believe it or not, saving money may not be in your best interest. If you’re in a front-end accident and your airbag doesn’t deploy because your bumper was repaired with cheap replacement parts, OEM parts start to look more appealing. Consumer Reports says, “Don’t let your insurance company pressure you into using aftermarket collision-repair body parts, especially safety-related ones. If your car has already been repaired, check your invoices or ask your insurer to see whether aftermarket parts were used. If knockoffs were used, demand that they be replaced with original equipment.” Most often, these shops will use rebuilt, aftermarket and used parts without your knowledge, because it’s easier to “just not tell you”.
So, bottom line, when it comes to collision repair, if you’re concerned about the safety of the people in your vehicle, your best bet is likely to be OEM parts. To help you understand the difference, you can find more at www.yourvehicleyourchoice.com.
Next week, we’ll go a little more in depth on the difference between OEM and aftermarket parts.