Fixing your own car is a pastime that is as American as apple pie and baseball. But it’s getting more difficult these days and can even be downright dangerous. Cheap car parts, often from China, have flooded the U.S. market in the past 20 years and the quality is hit-or-miss.
If you have ever had your auto repaired, then you know that the cost of car parts can be pretty prohibitive.
We often look for the cheap way out and unfortunately turn to cheap aftermarket parts. Aftermarket parts are made by a company other than your vehicle’s original manufacturer. Intended to be replacements, they are not used; they are new pieces of equipment. They just weren’t manufactured by the company (or a subcontractor on behalf of that company) that made the parts in your original vehicle—the OEM.
These are commonly available through auto parts stores like Advance, O’Reilly, NAPA, and also through used-parts dealers (“junkyards”), and auto body repair shops. The primary “advantage” of aftermarket parts is price – they are substantially less expensive than their OEM counterparts. However, one must consider the real cost of choosing cheap replacement parts.
In some cases it can be dangerous to purchase a vehicle with aftermarket parts installed by a previous owner or unqualified shop. However, there is a fine line between cars modified in a safe way and ones that are modified in an unprofessional or illegal manner. Some parts can increase the value of the vehicle to the right buyer, and others can lead to trouble and reliability issues later on. This is why it is good to be informed about aftermarket parts and modification.
Just a couple of years ago, CNN reported that auto insurers were trying to take advantage of cheap prices by forcing repair shops to use aftermarket parts when repairing crash damage. Repair shops from some 36 states are joining a lawsuit against these insurance companies alleging the repairs forced by some insurance companies are dangerous.
Buddy Caldwell, attorney general of Louisiana, has filed suit against State Farm insurance, saying its low-cost repair program could be dangerous for customers who get back on the road in vehicles that are not roadworthy.
He said he fears thousands of Americans could be driving around in vehicles repaired with what he calls junkyard parts after seeking repairs from body shops recommended by their auto insurance companies who took their premiums and picked up the bill.
The issue is a nationwide one, said John Eaves, the lead attorney for the body shops involved in the lawsuit.
“It involves people from Maine to Mississippi to California. Every state in the Union has experienced the same sort of struggle here between the body shops trying to do the work the right way, and the insurance companies trying to cut corners and force them to use unsafe parts and unsafe methods on their cars,” he said.
Next time you’re stuck between wanting to buy original parts or aftermarket parts, give us a call. We’ll point you in the right direction!