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Without exception, new replacement auto spares supplied by original equipment manufacturers are more expensive than aftermarket parts. The cost of these parts is one reason why taking a car to the service department at the dealership costs more than an independent shop. Third-party service techs use aftermarket parts (80% of them, according to America's Car Show). The question is, does picking a spare from a manufacturer that didn't make it on the car's maker find list give you poorer quality? Are there situations where you should never use anything but OEM?
Here's what's wrong with going aftermarket
Aftermarket parts are often made to standards as superior as OEM. The problem is that it can be hard to tell which brands and models these are. The range tends to be overwhelming, and you need to know your parts if you are to find the good ones.
If you're getting work done under your insurance policy, you can be sure that they will use cheaper aftermarket parts. You need to pay your insurance company extra if you want OEM.
In 21 states, as well as in DC, the law allows shops to deny customers information on the origin of the parts they use -- aftermarket or OEM.
In general, it's never a good idea to go with aftermarket repair work following a collision. Aftermarket parts usually do not include critical features such as panel crumple zones, and may not even fit well. The use of such parts also tends to lower your car's market value when it's time to sell.
OEM parts dominate the market in some areas
Certainly, many car owners, especially ones who drive older cars, do not want to spend any more on their vehicles than they can help. Nevertheless, in many parts of the country, the Midwest, especially, far more people tend to use OEM parts than elsewhere -- the region is well served by used salvage OEM dealers. Salvage yards such as Bessler Auto Parts offers any part that one could want -- original equipment, freshly salvaged and in mint condition.
The availability of such parts makes the OEM-versus-aftermarket debate moot. With lightly used OEM parts easily available, one saves far more than one would with aftermarket parts, and gets the dependable quality.