If you're reading this article and have never filed an insurance claim, consider yourself lucky. For the rest of us, was the vehicle repaired using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts or a 'quality' aftermarket parts? "Quality" is the subjective keyword.
Aftermarket parts can be a good thing for consumers. They generally costing less than genuine car parts. But aftermarket parts aren't always made to the same exacting specifications as genuine OEM parts. When you have a less expensive part, there might be areas where the part might be lacking, such as long-term reliability or performance.
We're not knocking all aftermarket parts! Many are often made to the same exacting specifications as OEM parts and some might even exceed those specifications. Many can often perform satisfactorily and are often good, low-cost replacements when the consumer is on a tight budget. They can also be attained very quickly due to the widespread availability. You should, however, consider the use of OEM parts, especially when an insurance company is footing the bill.
An insurance company is obligated to repair your vehicle to the same condition as it was before you suffered your loss. If your Lexus was totaled, would you expect to have the insurance company give you a Kia or another Lexus? It's the same way for parts. There's no reason you shouldn't have the part that was made specifically for your vehicle by the company who made your vehicle.
Glass is definitely an area where you shouldn't skimp. Glass companies and insurance companies often use 'replacement' or non-OEM glass to save money. But glass is glass, right? Not always. We assisted several consumers with glass repairs over the years, all of which were contracted through insurance companies. In every case, the glass and insurance companies pushed the consumer to use non-OEM glass, touting that they could have the windshield replaced the same-day and stressing that it was the same quality.
When we compared the OEM windshield to the new comparable non-OEM windshield, we were surprised. Each non-OEM windshield had some type of imperfection, such as debris embedded between the layers of glass directly in front of the driver's line of sight. After a few thousand miles, the windshields quickly developed tiny chips compared to virtually none on the original damaged glass that had racked up 20,000 or more miles. Some of the glass had water spots that refused to come off and another was so soft that cleaning with a paper towel scratched it.
Each of these drivers contacted their insurance company and explained that they were not happy and wanted the glass that originally came with the vehicle. To our surprise, the insurance companies sent out the glass company later in the week with an OEM glass and replaced each of them at no cost. Kudos to them! Each of the drivers reported no issues with the new OEM glass.
The catch 22 to using and insisting on OEM glass: you may have to wait a few days while the glass is ordered from the dealer.
But what if your car was damaged in a wreck and needs extensive repairs? Should you still insist on OEM parts or use aftermarket parts to save some money?
Remember: you don't know how well the part will perform until the part is installed. Some aftermarket bumps distort or change color over time. Some suspension parts may be tuned a little differently, meaning part of your car might respond differently. Would you want to take a chance with an aftermarket airbag?
Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. But it should not be taken lightly. We typically recommend OEM parts.