If you have a fender bender and need to take your 1995 Mazda RX7 to the shop, you just want your baby fixed. You may not be thinking about what kinds of parts will be used to repair it.
But not all replacement parts are created equal. Read on to learn more, so you can have an educated chat with your mechanic.
What’s the difference between an OEM part and an aftermarket part?
An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part was made by the car’s original manufacturer. You can think of it as your car’s long-lost twin.
An aftermarket or “generic” replacement part, which is made by another company, is designed to function like the original. Some companies reverse-engineer their generic parts to make them even better than your car’s original part. But some generic parts don’t measure up to the real deal. A generic radiator hose, for example, may be sold as a replacement for various types of cars, so it almost fits your car. Aftermarket body panels may not align properly or may have a slightly different finish.
If your repair facility is replacing parts on your vehicle—especially functional parts—make sure that any generics they intend to use are certified by the Certified Automobile Parts Association (CAPA), which inspects and tests aftermarket parts to make sure they’re up to snuff.
How will I know whether I’m getting OEM or aftermarket parts?
In many states—including California, Nevada, and Utah—repair shops are legally required to tell you which types of parts will be used before any work begins. Review your estimate carefully and if you have any questions, be sure to ask.
Can I demand OEM parts?
You can ask your repair facility to use OEM parts, but keep in mind that your auto insurance policy may not cover the full cost. An OEM part is usually pricier than its aftermarket counterpart, so if it isn’t covered, you may need to pay the cost difference.
I lease my car. Which kind of parts should I use?
Check your lease agreement, which will specify which type of parts may or may not be used during repairs.
What is an OEM endorsement?
Original Equipment Manufacturer coverage is additional coverage that can be purchased with your auto policy. It ensures that if you need to have your car repaired, only OEM parts will be used.