The debate continues as to whether aftermarket products are as good, or even better than any OEM parts. The OEM parts are the parts your car was made with. Parts made by other people, or other companies, are called aftermarket parts.
While the debate rolls, a couple of states have passed laws regarding what insurance companies can require, and what the customer has a right to know when repairs are being made to a vehicle.
A new law in Rhode Island recently took effect that says insurance companies want to use aftermarket parts, it must notify the customer in writing, and the repair shop may not use aftermarket parts without the owner’s consent. This would apply to cars less than 48 months old. The law also says insurance companies may not require the use of aftermarket parts.
An Illinois law, also recently past, does pretty much the same thing. It adds a provision that estimates of body shops pay not include aftermarket part prices without the written consent of the car owner. It also requires that OEM procedures be used when making repairs. Illinois already requires estimates to specify what is to be used, such as new, used, or aftermarket.
West Virginia also has a similar law, but it is more strict. It requires OEM parts, without exception, on any insurer paid work by a repair shop on any car less than three years old.
OEM products are ones that an automobile was designed to use. They have been crash-tested and there is a uniformity of quality. The parts will fit with other parts just the way they did when the car was built. It is easier to find these parts, there is a greater assurance of quality and you get a warranty with the part. The downside to OEM is the cost, which is often significantly higher than aftermarket prices. You have to buy OEM parts at a dealership, which adds even more to the markup. It is usually of better quality, but it is not always, an analysis by Edmunds determined.
The biggest advantage of aftermarket products is the cost. The quality can be the same as OEM, and at times it is even better. There is more variety when you get aftermarket parts and they are more readily available. That to can be a downside though, because if you don’t know the manufacturers, you may not know the quality. The quality varies a lot between part makers. Often there is no warranty on aftermarket products.