Auto Repair – Choosing the Right Automotive Replacement Parts for Your Vehicle

Auto Repair – Choosing the Right Automotive Replacement Parts for Your Vehicle

For most laymen, having a vehicle repaired involves several elements of risk. Are you getting a fair deal? Could there be a cheaper solution? Is your car going to be okay? Acquiring a little bit of basic knowledge before taking your car in for repair can help to put these kinds of questions at ease. From obtaining an estimate to getting the best automotive replacement parts, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your car repair.

1. Understanding Automotive Replacement Parts – OEM vs. Aftermarket

O.E.M. stands for Original Equipment Manufactured, and refers to vehicle parts that are made by a car manufacturer itself. I.e., Toyota OEM parts are made by Toyota, and so on. You may also hear the terms O.E.S. and OE; which mean Original Equipment Supplied and Original Equipment, respectively. While many times the terms OEM and OES are interchangeable, OE is a term more generally referring to any original equipment on the car. Some of OE car parts and components are not actually made by the car manufacturer, but are purchased and assembled by the automakers.

After Market auto parts are bought and added to a vehicle at the dealership or after the vehicle left the dealership, and are not made by car manufacturers. Aftermarket parts are most often used as automotive replacement parts, but can also function as specialty add-ons to increase both look and performance.

Original Equipment is often times more durable as compared to stock parts, but can come with a substantial markup to cover the labor and shipping costs of the manufacturer. However, there are many auto shops that offer affordable, yet well-made ‘to automotive standard’ parts such as To assess which type of automotive replacement part will be the best for your repair, consult with the mechanic after initial inspection. Knowing the type and degree of damage to a part can help to determine a clear discourse.

2. Receiving an Estimate

Below are four tips to help you get the most for your money:

o If you know the types of repairs needed, make a list before you arrive. The repair shop can then inspect your car and estimate repairs more efficiently.

o Make sure you obtain a written or verbal estimate for repairs; the final bill cannot exceed more than 5% of the original estimate, as required by law.

o Always ask to see the damaged or worn part and ask that it be returned to you in the box of the new replacement part at the time you sign the work order. After inspection, have the repair garage dispose of parts as needed or retain for further inspection.

o Request quotes from several sources, including your dealer. While replacement parts from your dealership will usually be a bit more expensive, it helps to receive a quote from as many sources as possible to avoid getting duped by the ‘low ball bid.’ Some repair shops under bid to get you in the door, only to add on unneeded services later.

3. A word about new vehicles

In a few unfortunate cases, a new vehicle that seemed to have driven off the lot in good condition ends up needing repair. If the dealership is not as helpful as they should be, you can contact the manufacturer of the vehicle. Major manufacturers have a customer help line that will connect you with a representative who can help to get the needed parts and repairs done quickly. Because most dealerships are independently owned, it’s difficult to assess which will be responsive and which will not. Contacting a manufacturer’s representative will help you get the leverage you need to resolve the problem promptly.