When you are considering an auto body repair after an accident, there are many things to consider.
If your body repair is going to be covered by insurance, often times insurance companies insist a body shop uses OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. The insurance company goal is to make the insured individual whole by specifying your body shop use replacement parts be from the manufacturer.
However, when you are doing a body repair on a car and not filing an insurance claim, budget can influence how parts are selected. OEM parts for auto body repair are usually more expensive than using replacement parts manufactured by a third party. These parts are often called “aftermarket” parts. Aftermarket parts are almost always less expensive and are created to match the same specifications as the OEM parts.
To some people, the aftermarket auto parts industry can deliver substandard parts. In some cases, the parts are manufactured outside the bounds of strict government regulation.
On the other hand, many body shops contend aftermarket parts perform as well as OEM parts. In addition, some industry experts say aftermarket parts help consumers by competing with major automakers, keeping body repair costs down and reducing car insurance rates. Another thing to consider with auto body repair is the aftermarket parts have to perform well because body shops just cannot afford to have customers coming back with complaints.
“No body shop wants to sell or install an inferior part because businesses don’t want people to come back with complaints,” says Rich White, senior vice president of marketing and member relations for the Washington D.C.-based Automobile Aftermarket Industry Association.
The Case For Aftermarket Auto Body Repair Parts
In fact, according to Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute (III), tens of thousands of cars and light trucks are repaired every year with generic (aftermarket) parts. It’s been that way since 1970, when auto body repair shops were no longer required to use OEM parts.
“Because most of the independently made parts are lower-priced, they have also helped to bring down the prices of all OEM parts,” Worters said. “Many states now require the option of generic parts.”
As an example, Worters cites a Consumer Reports story saying the cost of a generic fender for a 1992 Toyota Camry dropped 81% from the original price of $325 in 1992 to $60 in 1996. This is a great example of how you can get more value with your body repair as a direct result of healthy business competition. Aftermarket parts can help your body shop in Madison WI keep body repair cost under control.
The Case Against Aftermarket Body Repair Parts
While most states have insurance departments overseeing replacement-part practices, only five have adopted consent or disclosure laws governing the use of generic parts, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. They are Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Rhode Island and West Virginia.
In Indiana, for instance, an insurance company cannot direct a body shop to use a non-OEM part without the consent of the car owner for five years past the model year of the automobile. In Rhode Island, the consent period is 30 months.
“The key issue is that consumers don’t often know body repair shops have incentives to use junkyard parts to fix their cars,” says Douglas Heller, executive director of California-based Consumer Watchdog.
Body Repair Choices May Be Limited For Older Cars
“We do prescribe recycled parts if they are appropriate, and when their use would restore the car to its pre-loss condition,” says Dick Luedke, spokesperson for State Farm Insurance. “If it’s an older vehicle, and the right parts aren’t available, we’ll match the vehicle with a similar part that was made after market.”
Luedke says most “crash parts,” or recycled parts, are exterior bumpers and quarter panels with little bearing on the mechanical operation of the automobile.
If a customer demands new OEM parts, State Farm asks the customer to pay the difference in price between an OEM and a generic or recycled part. State Farm does this in order to hold down car insurance rates for its customers.
Of course, insurance companies have varying policies. Be sure to check out the policies of your insurers. State regulations differ, so car insurance companies often have broad discretion in deciding whether OEM, generic or recycled parts are used in a particular car repair. Whatever restores the car to its “pre-loss condition” is usually the operative term.
The result is older cars will often have aftermarket or reconditioned OEM parts used in their body repair.
Aftermarket Parts Can Improve Performance
Meanwhile, White, of the Aftermarket Automobile Industry Association, notes some aftermarket parts incorporate improvements to OEM parts. After being road tested for a few years, adjustments in the aftermarket parts actually improved the parts performance.
“It’s all about trust,” White says. “If you’re going to keep an old car for another year and you don’t really need an original part, you want to have that variety so you can get the product you need depending on your circumstance.”
“OEM parts, particularly for older-year models, are not only more expensive, but they are often under-stocked and not as readily available as generic parts,” White says. “The beauty about the aftermarket is you can take your car in the morning and have it back that night because there are adequate distribution systems in place to get you the part you need”.
The Insurance Information Institute says elimination of the aftermarket parts industry would drive up auto body repair costs between 50 and 100 percent. In turn, insurers would declare more total losses from car accidents, with a corresponding increase for auto insurance premiums.
For details on auto body repair options using OEM, aftermarket or recycled parts, contact the Auto Color pros at either of our two Madison WI locations – on the Westside at Parmenter Road in Middleton or the Stoughton Road – Buckeye Road location in Madison WI.
Auto Color’s convenient locations provide easy access for surrounding cities including Verona, Waunakee, Fitchburg, Sauk City, McFarland, Middleton, Monona, Cottage Grove, Sun Prairie and Deforest and all of Dane County.
Call Auto Color in Middleton at 608-831-9554 or Auto Color in East Madison at 608-221-5041 or email us for great options concerning auto body repair in Madison WI.