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Car insurance and genuine car parts

Are genuine parts really all they're cracked up to be?

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After an accident, your car might need replacement parts to repair it. Whether those parts come directly from the original manufacturer or an aftermarket manufacturer will depend on your insurer. The only difference between a genuine or original part and an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacement part is the name on the package, but many insurance companies won’t fork out the cash for original or OEM parts after a crash.

Differences between car parts: OEM vs genuine vs aftermarket

There are a number of options when it comes to purchasing parts for your motor vehicle.

Serves same functionMade by or connected to original manufacturer Includes original company logo Not made by original manufacturer
Genuine partscheck mark iconcheck mark iconcheck mark iconcross mark icon
OEM partscheck mark iconcheck mark iconcross mark iconcross mark icon
Aftermarket partscheck mark iconcross mark iconcross mark iconcheck mark icon

Genuine

Genuine parts, also known as original equipment, are what automakers use at the factory when building a car and are the most expensive on the market. The packaging will usually carry the manufacturers’ branding, though in some cases, a sister company may supply the part.

OEM or original equipment manufacturer

Car manufacturers do not produce every single vehicle component. A company employed by the original manufacturer to produce these parts is the OEM. OEM parts makers often sell components under their own name and branding. These items are identical to genuine parts but at a better price. However, OEM parts go through safety and crash-test procedures to make sure they’re up to federal safety standards.

Aftermarket

Aftermarket parts aren’t produced by or connected with the manufacturer. Aftermarket producers may also design and manufacture upgraded performance parts that exceed the operation and standards of an original part.

What about replacement part condition?

In addition to new parts, whether original to your car, OEM or aftermarket, you can also find used parts.

  • Refurbished or reconditioned. It’s possible to purchase genuine, OEM or aftermarket refurbished components. The best ones go through a quality inspection and rebuild process. Common refurbished parts include big-ticket items like engines, turbochargers, gearboxes and steering boxes. It’s important to check to see what kind of guarantee comes with these components.
  • Used or salvaged. In an effort to cut costs, some workshops may fit used parts, such as those taken from a junkyard. For older or classic cars, these may be the only option. Used parts can offer substantial savings, but it can be difficult to determine their source.
  • Counterfeit reproduction. You should never purchase fake copied parts. The quality levels of these parts vary wildly — to the point of being unsafe. Knockoff part makers may use lower-quality materials and even try to pass them off as OEM.

Which parts will my insurer use?

You can find out which components your insurer will use to repair your car in your insurance policy. Most insurance policies will use aftermarket parts to repair your car. If you want to make sure you’ll get OEM or genuine parts during a repair, check with your insurer before purchasing a policy and make sure that it’s listed in your policy.

Pro tip:

If you want OEM parts used for your car repair but your insurer only agrees to use aftermarket parts, ask if you can pay the difference to have the repair shop use the OEM parts.

Which shops provide each kind of part?

The type of shop you take your car to will usually determine which choice of parts you have. Here’s a list of what you might see at each type of shop:

  • Autobody shops. These types of shops usually offer OEM and aftermarket parts. However, what you’re offered might depend on what type of claim you file. Be sure to ask your repair shop for your options.
  • Independent garages and mechanics. These shops generally offer both types of parts, and may even be able to offer you used OEM parts for extra savings.
  • Dealership repair shops. Dealerships typically only use OEM parts.

Is my repairer required to notify me about the parts used in repairs?

Yes, if you live in one of the 31 states that require a disclosure statement about the use of non-OEM parts to be included with the repair estimate. That list includes Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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Do I need genuine parts?

No. OEM parts are exactly the same as original parts, the only difference is the name on the package. OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer, but they might not have, say, the Toyota logo on the part. It doesn’t make the part any less effective.

In many cases, aftermarket parts can also work just as well as OEM parts, but they don’t always fit perfectly, so they may need to be adjusted by a mechanic. You also want to make sure that you’re getting a high-quality aftermarket piece. Most reputable mechanics will only buy from manufacturers they trust, but it’s a good idea to check where your parts are coming from.

If you have a new car, it may be more important to get OEM parts. If an aftermarket part causes a failure in your vehicle, it won’t be covered by your warranty.

Ask an expert: When it is worth going with a genuine car part?

Diego Camino

Diego Camino

Automotive Technician, Imports Performance

When it comes to the engine, I would use OEM parts. But for cosmetics, I would use the aftermarket parts. The more expensive or prestigious the car brand, the more the parts will cost. For example, original Mercedes Benz parts are priced much higher.

What matters most when choosing which part to use?
Always ask for the original part first. The aftermarket parts are cheaper, but they’re not as durable because the quality is lower, and the material and fit is different. If you go to an Autozone or a similar shop, they’ll probably try to sell you on their own aftermarket parts over the original parts — so keep that in mind.

When is it okay to choose a used part?
If the original part isn’t available, you’ll need to get the aftermarket part. And if the aftermarket doesn’t have it, ask the shop to request it from the dealer.

Getting the best replacement parts

If your car needs a replacement part, it’s up to you to make sure you’re purchasing a quality part.

  • Use common sense. If a component sells for $500 from the dealer and $400 as an OEM-branded part but sells for $100 online, ask yourself why. The $100 is suspiciously cheap.
  • Only purchase from trusted sellers with good reputations. Sellers outside of the US may not adhere to the same level of consumer regulations.
  • Ask your repair shop for an itemized invoice including parts numbers. Most garages are willing to do this, and it allows you to check where each part comes from.
  • Get estimates on both kinds of parts. Compare the price difference between using OEM parts and after-market parts to determine if the difference in price is worth it to you.
  • If you add performance-modifying parts, tell your insurer. Failing to do so can void your policy in the event of a claim. Some alterations are only covered under specialized policies, including:
    • Nitro or hydrogen injection systems
    • Custom paintwork
    • Turbocharged or supercharged engines
    • Racing harnesses
    • Roll bars
    • Roll cages

Bottom line

It’s in your insurer’s best interest to pay for parts that work and are safe. Still, as the owner, it’s up to you to check that your mechanic is ordering parts you’re comfortable having in your car. If you’re concerned, check with your car insurance company to find out what parts they’ll cover in a crash. Or, compare car insurance providers to find one that fits your repair needs.

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