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The Rise of The Aftermarket Parts Industry

September 03, 2019 7 min read

In the last decades, the aftermarket industry has experienced an enormous boom and car owners are galvanizing more and more towards quality aftermarket parts for their vehicles. One prominent reason for this growth is the constant influx of high-quality aftermarket auto parts. This makes repairing or replacing certain parts so much easier. 

Using aftermarket parts to replace or repair damaged car parts will help extend the lifespan of your car and boost its resale value. Yet, some people are still skeptical of aftermarket parts. So. let’s take a closer look at aftermarket parts and the changes they underwent throughout the years.

The history of the aftermarket industry

It is common knowledge that a couple of decades ago OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts were the only parts for vehicle repair. It is also popularly known that OEM parts were almost never available or prohibitively pricey. As sourcing for OEM parts became a hurdle and too big for most budgets, the aftermarket parts industry was created.

In its infancy, the aftermarket parts industry was known for producing notably low-quality parts, however, during the years, the industry has made enormous strides and has significantly improved the quality of its parts.

Unfortunately, some still are reluctant to use aftermarket parts due to its former reputation. However, with the new developments and technological advancements in the automotive parts industry the quality of aftermarket parts has increased tremendously - sometimes even matching the quality of OEM parts. Today, there exist a plethora of options in aftermarket parts - mostly manufactured in Taiwan.

Using aftermarket parts to replace or repair damaged car parts will help extend the lifespan of your car and boost its resale value. No one is going to pay top dollar for a vehicle with damage parts. Yet, some people are still skeptical of aftermarket parts. So, let’s take a closer look at aftermarket parts and the changes they underwent throughout the years. 

The different types of aftermarket parts

Regardless of the brand, age or manufacturer, as a car owner, you always want the best replacement parts. But replacement parts differ. The most known is the original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM) and aftermarket replacement parts.

OEM parts

In the past, car manufactures would create all their parts, but in our ever-connected world most parts are outsourced. OEM parts are made a third-party company to manufacture auto parts in contract to sell ONLY through a car dealership such as Toyota, Honda, Ford, etc. OEM parts will have their respective badging on their part. Whereas aftermarket parts do not pay for the right to make parts with a company’s logo, like the Chevy bowtie or the Toyota ovals. OEM car parts are aftermarket car parts Some car owners adamantly purchase only OEM parts for their many advantages such as:

 

  • Easy to Purchase: The parts are readily available at the dealership and purchasing OEM means you’re purchasing piece of mind. This means that you won't have to assess the quality of different brands and prices.
  • Greater assurance of quality: One thing is for sure; an OEM part will work exactly like the one you are replacing, because it is a replica of OE (original equipment) part the vehicle was manufactured with.
  • Peace of mind: If you are a car enthusiast or own a special edition vehicle, you will generally tend to by OEM parts to keep your vehicle closer to its original condition. This may help with resale value but for most of us with regular cars, our car depreciates as soon as we drive it off the lot. The price may not justify the peace of mind.

For example, Mopar is an independent auto parts company owned by GMC that only sells to licensed car dealerships. Denso is a Japanese company that makes safety and electrical parts to be installed in vehicles on the assembly line. Because of their many advantages, OEM parts rank highest among auto repair and replacement parts. However, OEM parts also have some disadvantages such as:

  • They are more expensive: according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), OEM parts will usually cost at least 60 percent more than aftermarket parts.
  • Are only sold by dealerships: Dealers are limited! Which makes purchasing OEM parts quite stressful at times. Your local mechanic can order OEM parts for you, but it may take longer for your vehicle to get repaired. Even though the internet provided the possibility to purchase OEM parts through online merchants, repairs of your car will still take time as these orders will need to be delivered to your mechanic first.
  • Quality vs Price: Many years ago, OEM parts, were vastly better than aftermarket parts. Topically that guarantee does not exist anymore as some aftermarket parts are equal to OEM parts. So, you might be paying extra just for the brand name.

 

CAPA certified & Regular aftermarket parts

These are more affordable than OEM parts and are made by a 3rd party manufacturer. There is an important distinction between the two. The difference between CAPA is the manufacturers strictly adhere to the independent Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) requirements during the manufacturing process. We’ll get into more detail on CAPA parts further down the article. Regular aftermarket parts do not have adhere to the same process. Both CAPA and regular aftermarket parts are made by the same facilities. It’s safe to say they are both made using the same processes. Aftermarket & CAPA parts are usually available from independent shops and typically offer more options as well. Just like OEM parts, CAPA parts also have some major benefits:

 

  • Less expensive: Aftermarket parts are commonly more affordable than OEM parts. Usually 10-30 percent more than aftermarket parts.
  • Quality is equal to OEM auto parts: CAPA parts are using advanced technology to create their products. Which means that in some cases, you may end up with the same quality part that you started with.
  • Wide variety: There are numerous companies that manufacture aftermarket CAPA parts. A wider variety means greater selection and competitive pricing.
  • Better availability: Unlike OEM, aftermarket parts are sold in any auto parts store or local collision shop. This gives you more options on where to take your car for service.

 

But aftermarket parts are not without their cons. Some of the disadvantages that can come with aftermarket parts are:

 

  • Quality varies: Even though most aftermarket companies produce high-quality parts, there are some factories that use less materials. Also, the quantity in which they are made may affect some batches of parts. It is, therefore, best to only purchase from trusted sources.
  • Very wide selection: Since so many companies produce aftermarket parts, the chance of you picking a part that is of lower quality becomes greater. Aftermarket parts are comparable to the OEM parts but occasionally there will be some bad parts out there. Consult your mechanic for advice if you are not familiar with aftermarket parts.
  • Warranty varies by distributor: Usually, aftermarket parts come with their own warranty, but it will only cover the quality of the part which may be void if you already painted the part. It varies for every resale company. This can also be the case with an OEM part.

 

Regulations and certifications for aftermarket parts

As we mentioned before, most aftermarket parts are made in Taiwan - which means that they are not manufactured by the vehicle manufacturer (or a subcontractor on behalf of that company) that made the parts on your original vehicle—the OE parts. These companies in Taiwan make parts designed to function the same with the correct fitment and durability as the original parts. Still, it remains important to inquire about the quality of the parts. For this reason, Federal administrations, like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have safety regulations for many aftermarket car parts, and states are free to create additional regulations. Another important note, these 3rd party manufactures pay car companies for the rights to manufacture their parts. Companies such as Ford, GMC, Honda, Toyota, etc., all set forth standards to which these manufactures must abide by to sell the likeness of their part.

When it comes to aftermarket parts, most retail distributors obtain the auto body part from the same manufactures overseas. You are essentially buying the same parts from the same original manufactures. "CAPA" certified. Certified Automobile Parts Association (CAPA) has set high standards and created guidelines for aftermarket parts. CAPA tests the quality of materials, production, and integrity of the parts. In order to receive a CAPA certification, the result of the testing must conclude that the parts are functionally equivalent to OEM parts as OEM is the standard that some insurance companies use to evaluate replacement parts. CAPA requires that a manufacture follow strict guidelines regarding the facility, equipment, materials and the process in which the parts are made. Each CAPA certified parts is labeled with a distinguishable hologram sticker and its own serial number. Manufactures who sell CAPA parts must submit parts for approval and after approval are subject to random screenings by CAPA.

General aftermarket parts do not undergo the same CAPA testing certifications and are generally more affordable than OEM and CAPA certified parts. All aftermarket parts are evaluated for their functionality and quality. General aftermarket parts are the least desired consumers due to their misconceptions. When aftermarket parts first became available, yes, the quality was not good. Things have certainly changed in the past decade and aftermarket parts are now indistinguishable from OEM auto parts.  Insurance companies only use aftermarket parts for repairs due to the pricing compared to OEM parts. Collision shop will also use aftermarket parts to minimize their spending and maximize their profits.  

Conclusion

Aftermarket parts have been a great help to most car owners over the past decades. Due to its less than favorable quality parts in its infancy years, many people still have misconceptions - even though the aftermarket parts industry has undergone a complete metamorphosis and now offer great quality parts that are comparable to OEM parts. Aftermarket auto body parts are more popular than they have ever been. It is the most commonly used product by consumers and collision repair specialists. Aftermarket parts save consumers and body shops money on the cost of repairs, and in the end, it saves insurance companies money which makes aftermarket parts the best option in many cases.

Written by, Stefany Land