ASK GARY: Should I Use Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts When Repairing My Car?
There’s nothing quite as painful as dealing with car troubles. In these moments, you realize just how dependent you are on your vehicle, and how utterly helpless you are without it. And at the end of the day, there’s often no real choice but to bite the bullet and take your car in for repairs. Choosing between Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts or less expensive aftermarket parts begs the question: is a less expensive part a lower quality part?
Hidden in the term OEM is the fact that you’re buying genuine parts –parts designed for, and meant for, your vehicle. Genuine OEM parts come with the assurance that what you’re buying is truly an authentic replacement for your repair needs.
Maybe it’s about finding a less expensive option or greater selection and availability, but drivers often elect to have their repairs done using aftermarket parts. While these parts are typically cheaper than OEM parts, they often come with a reduction in quality and durability.
For example, replacing brake pads is a very common repair job, and a clear instance of when OEM parts should be favored over aftermarket. Though cheaper, aftermarket parts wear out considerably faster than OEM brake pads. The money saved using aftermarket comes directly from the quality of the components. Aftermarket brake pads are notorious for their inferior construction and poor bonding. This not only means you’ll have to replace your brake pads more frequently, but you also run the increased risk of having your brakes fail at a crucial moment.
Automobile repair can be annoying and expensive (unless you’ve recently purchased a Volvo), where the goal is to fix the problem as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. Dealing with car troubles, however, isn’t just about short term fixes, but more about long term solutions. Inexpensive parts may get you back on the road, but are likely to quickly send you right back to the shop.
While insurance companies often refuse to cover the full cost of OEM parts to cut down on their expenses, the implications of deciding whether to use OEM or aftermarket span beyond the car itself. For instance, using non-OEM parts may partially or completely void your vehicle’s warranty. Repairing a leased vehicle with aftermarket parts may cost you your security deposit –on a similar note, repairs done using aftermarket parts can significantly damage your vehicle’s resale value.
OEM parts typically come with a one year warranty. Because these replacement parts are the same ones currently in your vehicle, they fit better, and therefore incur lower labor costs (often the most expensive part of car repair). And while it is possible to find aftermarket parts equitable to OEM ones, the time spent researching and purchasing these components may not be worth it, considering your vehicle will be sitting useless in the meantime.
Taking your car in for repairs is always stressful, but the best way to care for your vehicle comes from using quality parts. OEM parts come with an assurance of quality, and allow you to preserve the value (and durability) of your vehicle. Though more expensive, these parts will easily make up their cost by allowing you fewer trips to the shop. And isn’t that something you deserve?