What are Aftermarket Parts?
Aftermarket parts are parts that are not manufactured by the original equipment manufacturer(OEM), these parts are listed on repair estimates as either Aftermarket (A/M) or Quality Replacement Parts (QRP). Insurance companies in the state of Texas have to notify you of the use of these parts, and their staff people will always try to convince you that these are great parts and they will stand behind them as long as you own the vehicle. But most of these same individuals would never allow them to be used on the vehicle unless it was over 10 years old. Most insurance companies are now specifying the use of these on any vehicle that is not current year model or less than two years old. Some insurance policies don't spell this out and are somewhat vague as to their right to use these on your vehicle, while some policies actually have a rider or endorsement that specifies only OEM sheet metal will be used in the event you have an accident. The problem is that agents rarely notify customers of this because it cost a little more.
To make this simple let us explain it this way. Suppose you went a purchased a beautiful piece of jewelry and it had some diamonds or precious stones on it. Well you purchased insurance and now you have lost the diamond. You call your insurance company and they tell you no problem we will take care of this, but what they do is replace your diamond with a Quality replacement part (a QRP Diamond) or and aftermarket diamond (A/M). And they tell you it is just like the original, it's really a cubic zirconia but it looks just like the diamond you had and it functions like the diamond you had but it is much cheaper than the diamond you had. The problem is when you go to upgrade it and you want to sell it or trade it in for a larger diamond you will be financially penalized because it is not the real thing. Now you have to ask yourself, would you allow that to happen to your diamond? Probably not, but that's what most auto insurance companies are doing today with replacement parts for your vehicle, then they tell you that they will stand behind it, should anything happen to it, they will guarantee it for life. Actually the insurance company does not stand behind it they try to force the cost on on one of their Direct Repair Shops that they have agreements with.
Why do insurance companies do this? Well the bottom line is it saves them money, the problem with this is that while it may save them money, it could very well cost you hundreds or even thousands when it comes time to upgrade your vehicle and you decide to sell it or trade it in. Now they try to convince consumers that it holds down the cost of auto repair because it forces the vehicle manufactures to reduce there prices to be competitive with the imitation parts. Being in this business for over twenty years we have seen the evolution of these parts and they have not reduced repair cost, they have actually increased the cost, but most of this increase comes falls on the shoulders of the repair shops. You might ask how that happens, and this happens because it increases administrative cost because you have to use several more vendors now and they simply do not have the distribution and turn around time that the OEM's have. The aftermarket parts are also not boxed or shipped well so many times they come in damaged and have to be returned or repair by the repair shop thereby increasing the cost to the repair shop. Many times the parts have to be repaired because it would take another two days to receive a new one and we simply do not have the time to wait and tie up a repair stall waiting for another part. Another reason is poor fit of the aftermarket part, which then has to be modified to fit, which increases repair time. When repair time increases that means if the person is in a rental vehicle, then the rental cost is also increased, many times more than any savings that was received on the part itself.
The reason it cost the consumer at trade it, is that any used car sales person will tell you they will discount what they pay for a vehicle if it has been in an accident and it has aftermarket parts on it. This is very easy to tell, especially headlamps and chrome parts because they usually have a poor fir and the chrome simply does not have the luster as OEM. So these parts diminish (reduce) the value of your vehicle. See our page on diminished value and how you might be able to collect this from a insurance company. They don't want you to know about this, but this is one way to be either have your vehicle repaired with OEM parts or be compensated for the "fake diamonds" an insurance carrier may have used on your vehicle. It is much cheaper for them to use OEM parts than it is to pay diminished value.
What is the difference between imitation parts and parts made by the manufacturer of my vehicle?
The parts made by the manufacturer of your vehicle are built to the same specifications as those on your vehicle when it was built. Genuine Parts are made with factory-specified steels and to factory-specified thickness to provide the best durability possible. Imitation parts are often not made specifically for your vehicle. This may make it necessary for technicians to alter or otherwise maneuver the part to make it fit. The end result may be diminished satisfaction and value, and it may jeopardize your warranty protection.
We will be loading up some pictures on this page to point out some ways that dealers use to identify aftermarket or quality replacement parts.