Used Parts Vs. Original Manufacturer (OEM) parts: Does it Matter?

When having your car repaired after a collision there has been extensive debate and even litigation regarding the use of after-market or used parts as opposed to original manufactured equipment (OEM) parts when performing the repairs.

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Depending on who you talk to, there are two sides to this argument.  Critics and some body shops don’t believe in using after-market or used parts claiming they don’t always fit or wear the same as vehicle manufacturer parts and, at the extreme, can even be unsafe. They also say that these parts don’t restore the car to its original pre-accident condition.   Supporters say that there is no difference than using other generic products and that generic parts are cheaper.  Some however, admit that generic parts are appropriate in some situations, such as when the owner simply wants to get the vehicle operable again due to the age and wear on the car– and its limited resale value– or when insurance isn’t involved.

Many insurance companies will only pay for after-market parts so it’s important to read the fine print in your policy if you have a preference. If not, and you find yourself in a collision needing repair work, you don’t have a choice as your insurer will only pay for these types of parts.  Many times insurance companies will guarantee defective alternative parts for the life and some even will let owners choose other parts and pay the difference.

Critics will say that the parts may look the same but are not the same. They claim they’re inferior in workmanship and don’t fit the same as the original manufacturer’s parts.

Safety is another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration. Below is an excerpt taken from an article by Paul Muschick in The Watchdog:

“The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-tested aftermarket bumpers in 2010 and found their performance can vary.

An aftermarket bumper meeting the Certified Automotive Parts Association’s standards performed as well as a Dodge bumper. The institute said that shows aftermarket parts can be produced without compromising safety.

The institute also crash-tested two other generic bumpers that weren’t built to the standard. They didn’t perform the same as a manufacturer’s bumper.

“That’s not a good thing from a safety standpoint,” Adrian Lund, the institute’s president, wrote in the report. “Aftermarket bumpers need to perform exactly the same as original bumpers in a crash. Even small changes in design can skew air bag sensors and alter vehicle damage patterns.”

            What may be derived from this whole argument is,  that despite generic parts being used and looking similar to OEM parts, there can be a definite difference both in wear, proper fit and, perhaps most importantly, safety in using these.  As in any other business, the caveat remains: Let the the buyer beware.

We here at Orlando Auto Body ( take pride in restoring your car to its original pre-damaged condition and use OEM parts whenever possible.  Call us first for an estimate.  We’ll also work with your insurance company to get the best parts and service for your vehicle. CALL US TODAY at 480-844-4858