Ask an Expert: What a difference a part makes

by John and Theresa Kightlinger of My Body Shop

This month we touch on the difference in parts used to repair a vehicle.

Many consumers may be aware of the existence of tried and trusted non-OEM (non-Original Equipment Manufacturer) mechanical parts sold at traditional and highly advertised auto parts stores. Sears Die Hard batteries, NAPA, Bendix brake components, Monroe shocks, Champion spark plugs are examples of non-OEM or Non-Factory Original parts. But most consumers are unaware of alternative or non-original collision repair replacement parts. These parts are generally manufactured in Taiwan, Korea, China and other foreign countries with questionable materials. 

As a cost saving measure, insurance companies may specify the use of these less costly alternative parts to repair your vehicle. The following is offered to help consumers better understand the terminology of collision repair replacement parts and some concerns relative to their use.

OEM or Factory parts were designed and manufactured by the vehicle’s manufacturer. These parts meet stringent requirements for fit, finish, corrosion protection and dent resistance. They are the only parts proven during vehicle development to deliver the intended level of quality, protection and performance in conjunction with their counterparts, components and systems. No other parts meet this level of testing. Using OEM parts also ensures that a vehicle’s factory warranty remains intact.

Aftermarket (Non-Original Equipment Manufacturer)parts, sometimes referred to as alternative, off-shore sheet metal, imitation, counterfeit, or copy-cat parts, are not licensed or endorsed by the vehicles manufacturer and will not be covered under their warrantees. Aftermarket parts are often made of different materials and have not undergone crash testing. As a result, while they may appear to be the same, some aftermarket parts lack the quality, fit and/or performance characteristics of OEM parts. Failure of non-OEM aftermarket parts may damage a vehicle or cause other factory original components to fail. Not only will these damages not be covered by the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty, they may void remaining warrantees.

LKQ (Like Kind and Quality): Also called used, recycled, or salvage parts, have been removed from damaged or salvaged vehicles. LKQ parts may have been repaired and resold, so they could come from previously repaired vehicles, have aftermarket parts, or have a bad repair that compromises the integrity of the part.

Surplus parts, also referred to as OPT parts are replacement parts manufactured by or for the vehicle’s original manufacturer. But they failed to meet the quality requirements for fit, finish or function.

Your vehicle, safety and economic wellbeing are at stake, so know your rights, choose your repairer wisely and verify the types of parts to be used.

Car owners would be wise to review their insurance policies to check for an original equipment (OE) parts rider. If not, they might want to give their agent a call.

John and Theresa Kightlinger own My Body Shop at 401 N. Clinton St., Stockbridge. The couple has lived in the area and raised their children here over the past 20 years. John has been in the auto body business since 1985, and Theresa began work at General Motors after high school. Between the two, they have been working on cars for more than 75 years.


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