More consumers than ever are doing their own auto repairs—meaning that most do-it-yourselfers are buying used and aftermarket auto parts. What should a buyer know about the differences between aftermarket and OEM parts? Should you buy your own parts and take them to the repair shop to save money? Today, we will answer these questions and dispel some misconceptions on buying remanufactured and aftermarket parts, and we will offer some tips to ensure that you get the parts you need.
Are OEM Parts Always Better?
Many people automatically assume that OEM parts, or parts made by the original manufacturer, are better than aftermarket parts, but that's not always the case. In many cases, OEM parts are made by the same company that created the vehicle, and many aftermarket parts are made by the same manufacturer as well. Even in cases where the original manufacturer doesn't make a part, the aftermarket manufacturer has seen how OEM parts perform—and they can make parts that work just as well.
Do Aftermarket Parts Void a New Car's Warranty?
Some drivers assume that installation of aftermarket parts can void a new car's warranty. However, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits automakers from voiding warranties based on aftermarket part usage. You may believe that a repair shop won't install parts you buy yourself, but many will—at a significant savings for you. However, not all shops warranty labor in these cases.
Do Remanufactured Parts Deserve Their Bad Rap?
You may have always heard that you shouldn't buy remanufactured auto parts, but sometimes that may be your only option. New parts aren't always available, and remanufactured parts may be a good choice. A remanufactured part has been taken apart, cleaned and readjusted to perform just like new. Moreover, remanufactured parts are backed by warranties, and it may make more sense to buy these parts if you can't afford to buy new.
Tips for Buying Parts
- Always buy well-known brands. Like everything else, aftermarket and remanufactured salvage car parts can vary widely in quality. Some may exceed OEM standards, and some may not.
- Stay away from universal-fit parts if possible. Universal parts are made to fit multiple vehicles, and may require modifications to ensure a good fit. These parts are often less expensive, but they can be tricky to install.
- Do some research. If you plan to do your own auto repairs, go online to compare warranties and pricing, and watch how-to videos on YouTube and other sources.
- Call the repair shop first. If you are going to have the repairs done by a professional, call the shop before you go to ensure that they'll install the parts you've bought.
Aftermarket and remanufactured auto parts have gotten a bad reputation over the years, but they are acceptable in many cases. By doing your research and by following the tips given above, you can get your car repaired without spending a fortune.