Are Aftermarket Parts Okay to Use?


You take your car to the dealership for an oil change, and you mention to the service personnel that you are having difficulties with your backup camera. After examining your car to provide an estimate, your service technician says he can’t troubleshoot or repair your camera because it is an aftermarket part. All he can do is completely replace it with a new original manufacturer camera. This leaves you a bit confused as well as aggravated because the camera replacement has a hefty price tag.  Where do you go from here?

Wide Use of Aftermarket Parts

Aftermarket car parts are widely used by independent automotive repair shops. To best understand them, you can liken aftermarket parts to generic prescription drugs as they are usually much cheaper but with similar efficacy. You wouldn’t think twice about accepting a generic substitute for your cough medicine prescription in order to pay a much smaller amount, but you may balk at making the same choice for an aftermarket part if you don’t have a clear understanding of their source, quality or impact on your vehicle. Aftermarket parts are any part that is not sourced by your automobile’s maker but are instead sourced through independent manufacturers such as Patrick James Crown group.

Types of Aftermarket Parts

Sometimes the manufacturer who makes an aftermarket part is the same manufacturer who makes the part for an automobile dealer. In that case, the main difference is the brand name attached to the part. This phenomenon is similar to what you see in the private label consumer goods industry where over 50% of branded consumer packaged goods manufacturers make private label consumer packaged goods as well. Just like with private-label goods, however, though the quality of the product may be roughly the same, there can be small cosmetic differences. In the auto parts world, small cosmetic variances can be meaningful when it comes to parts for the body of the vehicle. In some cases, finishes may not match, or panels may not align properly.

Association with Insurance Claims

Many insurance companies prefer the use of aftermarket parts for car repair, mainly because these parts are usually cheaper. When your insurer saves money on claims by promoting or requiring the use of aftermarket parts for repair, it can impact not only your insurance rates but those of all other customers. It is best to read your policy carefully, though, as well as educate yourself on your state’s laws regarding whether or not your insurance company is required to inform you if aftermarket parts were used in the repair of your vehicle. Some insurance policies, though they promote the use of aftermarket parts for repair, don’t then have to insure those parts going forward.

If you find yourself in a situation where your dealership will not service an aftermarket part, it is best to find a reputable independent service vendor. An independent service vendor will be able to assess the part regardless of its origin and advise you on whether repair or replacement is the best path for you.