In collision repair, old parts that are damaged must be replaced with new ones. Customers generally prefer OEM parts, but don’t always know their options ahead of time.
There are three different kind of parts that can replace the damaged one. Each one being used can really affect the quality of the repair. The three types are: 1. OEM 2. Aftermarket 3. LKQ.
The first kind is Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEM parts are created specifically for your vehicle by the original manufacturer of your vehicle. So, if you drive a Ford then the OEM part would come from Ford. Using OEM means that the part should function exactly as the part you are replacing, and provides a quality fit and function.
Aftermarket parts are made by anyone other than the car’s maker. They could be a direct replacement or something to change how the car performs or looks. There are a wide range of manufacturers for these parts, and therefore a wide range of quality. Non-profit organization CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) tests and monitors aftermarket products. Aftermarket parts are the least expensive because they do not have to invest in research and development.
LKQ stands for Like, Kind, and Quality. These are recycled parts, and they vary greatly in quality and price. They are technically OEM, but can provide a lot of challenges due to previous damage or problems with paint matching.
When choosing a part, technicians are concerned with the 3 F’s:
Fit: This concerns with how well the part will latch onto the car. Many parts must either click into place or be screwed in.
Function: The new part must do the same quality of work that the old part had before being damaged. A plus side is a new part can go above the quality of a new part if upgrading. The negative side of choosing a cheaper part might risk the quality of function.
Finish: This is to make sure that the part looks like it is a part of the car and not an added-on part that sticks out that sore thumb.
Most auto body professions prefer to work with OEM parts because they have met Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and, frankly, they fit better. But if price is an issue, your auto body professional will know trusted aftermarket manufacturers to help keep repairs in budget.
Your insurance company, on the other hand, may mandate that they will only pay for a certain kind of part. You may still have the option to pay the difference for OEM parts if they will only pay for aftermarket parts.
As a consumer, always be aware of your options, and ask questions.
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