Many people believe that their collision-damaged vehicle will be repaired by a body shop with a replacement part provided by that car manufacturer – Ford, Honda, etc. Most are not aware that, similar to other industries, alternative products are available, and may not perform as well as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement part produced by that car’s manufacturer.
Many consumers may be aware of the existence of non-OEM (non-original equipment manufacturer or copy) mechanical parts sold at traditional, highly visible and highly advertised auto parts stores. Common items are shock absorbers, brake pads, or wiper blades. But most consumers are totally unaware of the existence of alternative collision repair parts (also called “crash parts”). These would include items such as fenders, bumper covers, and hoods.
Today’s vehicles are complex, sophisticated and technologically advanced. A multitude of systems must work together to provide a comfortable and safe driving experience. This includes your vehicle’s sheet metal, bumpers, and safety related items, such as airbags, the sensors that trigger airbag deployment, and on late-model cars, sensors and cameras that control accident avoidance and mitigation systems.
Sometimes, insurance companies will specify the use of these alternative parts (non-OEM) to repair your vehicle as a cost-saving measure. The following is offered to help you better understand the terminology of collision repair parts and some of the ramifications of their use.
Original Equipment Manufacturer Collision Parts (OEM):
Sometimes called “OEM Part” on the estimate, these parts are designed by your vehicle manufacturer and are produced to the same specifications and tolerances as the parts on the vehicle when it was manufactured. These parts meet stringent requirements for fit, finish, structural integrity, corrosion protection and dent resistance. They are the only parts proven during vehicle development to deliver the intended level of protection as a whole system.
The only way to know for sure you are getting this level of protection is to use Genuine Original Equipment collision replacement parts. No other parts meet this level of testing. Using them removes any doubt caused by non-OEM parts, and ensures your new-vehicle warranty remains intact.
This is a term sometimes seen on an estimate to denote original equipment parts secured from the OE car dealer through a process commonly known as “price matching.” In this case, the body shop and car dealer negotiate the price of the OE part to make it more in line with the aftermarket part.
Aftermarket collision parts—also referred to as “non-OEM parts,” “imitation parts” or “copy parts”—are parts produced and supplied by companies other than the original equipment (OE) manufacturer; in other words, non-genuine parts.
Aftermarket collision parts—including but not limited to sheet metal, bumper components, and lamps—may offer a price-based alternative, but may not be made of the same material or to the same tolerances and specifications as Genuine Original Equipment collision replacement parts. As a result, some new aftermarket collision parts may not be of the same quality or have the same performance characteristics as OEM parts. This could be crucial in a subsequent collision.
Some aftermarket companies may offer a lifetime warranty, but that does not make them equivalent to Genuine Original Equipment collision replacement parts in terms of quality and performance. A lifetime warranty will provide little solace for someone severely injured in a subsequent collision because a replacement part did not perform as originally intended. Damage to your vehicle or its parts caused by the failure of new aftermarket parts may not be covered by your new-vehicle warranty.
Aftermarket parts are often
referred to on your estimate with these names or abbreviations:
A/M Aftermarket / Automotive replacement parts
QRP Quality Replacement Parts
CP Competitive Parts
LKQ (Like Kind and Quality):
In the collision repair industry, this term has come to mean parts salvaged or “harvested” from a vehicle that was previously deemed a total loss. These parts can be found in a salvage yard and are also commonly called “salvage” parts. This category commonly includes large body assemblies such as complete bumper assemblies, doors or complete front ends, severed from the original vehicle from the windshield forward.
While LKQ parts may offer a price-based alternative, the parts used from the salvage vehicle may have already been replaced with non-OE parts, or may be structurally compromised as a result of the collision that landed the car in the salvage yard in the first place. Other potential factors affecting the quality of these parts from donor vehicles may include:
- Unsuitable storage resulting in exposure to the elements
- Hidden damage
- Removal technique
- Water damage, such as a vehicle that has been submerged in a body of water, sustained flood damage, or been subject to water as a result of extinguishing a fire, which could have severe consequences for electrical parts
- Exposure to the high heat generated from a vehicle fire, which could alter the molecular composition of high-strength steel used in many vehicles, possibly changing its safety characteristics
Any of these potential unknown impacts on the salvage parts could compromise the safety or performance of the vehicle on which they’re used.
Damage to your vehicle or its parts caused by the failure of salvage parts may not be covered by your new-vehicle warranty.
Note: The industry term “LKQ” is not to be confused with a company by the same name that offers recycled and aftermarket parts.
In the collision repair world, reconditioned generally means parts removed from an existing vehicle that are repaired and/or refinished, such as bumper covers, wheels or lamps. Damage to your vehicle or its parts caused by the failure of reconditioned parts may not be covered by your new-vehicle warranty.
Counterfeit parts are parts that may be similar in physical appearance to OE parts, but are different internally in such a manner that may not be detectable to the average person or even a trained technician. These parts are often sold by unscrupulous distributors trying to pass them off as coming from the OE manufacturer. The packaging may even look so similar to the original packing that, unless the two are put side by side, one cannot tell the difference.
A prime example is counterfeit airbags sold at a fraction of the cost of the OE airbags. If you are never involved in a subsequent collision, you may never know that a counterfeit airbag was installed in your vehicle. However, if you are in a subsequent collision, and the airbag deploys incorrectly, or does not deploy at all, driver and passengers could be severely harmed.
Gray market parts are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts brought into the US through channels other the car manufacturer and their authorized dealers. These parts generally are not warranted by the vehicle manufacturer.
Some vehicle manufacturers may restrict certain parts so that only qualified shops can access them. This is done to protect the car maker and protect the customer so that only a qualified shop will be replacing that part. This usually only applies to high-line automobiles and usually only “structural” parts. Structural parts generally are defined as parts that support vehicle weight and absorb road shock, while maintaining the vehicle shape. Structural parts also absorb and manage collision energy.