Recent studies show that cheaper, generic auto parts used for car repairs put drivers at a greater risk for auto accidents. Although many auto repair shops use aftermarket or non-OEM parts, they pose safety concerns according to an auto accident lawyer Chicago who handles personal injuries resulting from auto accidents.
What are Non-OEM Parts?
The term OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. What does that really mean? OEM parts are made by a company that’s a subcontractor to the original vehicle manufacturer. They are not made by the manufacturer. It’s a common belief among consumers that OEM parts are only available through a vehicle dealership, so many car owners take their vehicles to a dealership for repairs. However, OEM parts are available through many auto parts and repair shops. As an example:
- Bosch is the OEM for most Volkswagen fuel parts.
- Tong Yang, a Chinese company, is the OEM for Nissan and Toyota mirrors, lights and radiators.
- Hella is the OEM for numerous European vehicle headlights and taillights.
When buying OEM auto parts, this means that the parts are made to the exact specifications as the original car parts. OEM parts match the parts that came with a vehicle when it rolled off the assembly line. This factor can have a significant impact on the function and performance of a vehicle. Cheaper non-OEM, aftermarket parts do not have to meet manufacturers’ specifications. All aftermarket parts are not created equal, but all OEM parts are.
Why Do Repair Shops Use Non-OEM Parts?
With hundreds of auto repair shops in most major cities like Chicago, business is very competitive. An auto accident lawyer Chicago often sees auto accidents caused from faulty parts that result in serious injuries and fatalities. To attract customers, repair shops often advertise special prices or services to beat their competition. It’s estimated that 80 percent of independent auto repair shops in America use non-OEM or aftermarket parts for repairs for the following reasons:
- Less Expensive – Aftermarket parts are typically less expensive than OEM parts. Repair shops can charge going rates for repairs, but make more profit.
- More Variety – There are hundreds of companies that make aftermarket parts. More variety means greater selection and a wider range of prices.
- Better Availability – Aftermarket parts are more readily available than OEM parts. This allows auto repair shops better options for immediate auto repairs.
Although non-OEM parts are less expensive and more readily available, they pose risks for drivers. Parts that are not made to a manufacturer’s specifications for a certain vehicle may not function as intended. An auto accident lawyer Chicago is aware of the dangers of aftermarket parts and the risks they pose for increased accidents and injuries while on the road. Dangers include:
- Variations in Quality – Some aftermarket parts are inferior because they are made with lower-quality materials that wear out faster.
- Overwhelming Selection – The selection for aftermarket brands is overwhelming. They are made by dozens of different companies and come in numerous variations, so there’s a good chance to end up with a bad quality part.
- No Warranty – Many aftermarket parts are sold without a warranty to keep costs down.
A recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed that aftermarket, generic parts are more likely to cause accidents and injuries than OEM parts made to manufacturers’ specifications. When testing aftermarket bumpers, tests showed that two out of three did not perform as well as OEM bumpers.
Vehicle Owner’s Rights in Illinois
In some states, non-OEM parts can be legally installed without the car owner’s knowledge. In Illinois, vehicle owners have the legal right to know that non-OEM parts will be used in a vehicle repair, and see a listing of those parts on an estimate prior to any repairs. The estimate must also list any other parts as new, used, rebuilt or reconditioned. The manufacturer’s name or logo of all non-OEM parts used in repairs must be visible on the part after installation.
If non-OEM parts are specified by an insurance company for repairs after an accident, they must be at least equal to OEM parts in terms of fit, quality and performance. When insurance companies specify the use of aftermarket parts, they must also consider the cost of any necessary auto modifications to make the repairs. The vehicle owner must be given written notice that all warranties on non-OEM parts will be provided by the manufacturer or distributor of the parts and not the manufacturer of the vehicle. Illinois vehicle owner’s rights help to prevent many personal injury claims by an auto accident lawyer Chicago caused from faulty auto parts.