Q: What are Aftermarket Parts?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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There are two types of auto parts available on the market for use with your automobile: original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and aftermarket parts. An OEM part is one made by your car's manufacturer or a contracted third-party manufacturer and used in the original construction of your automobile. Aftermarket parts are those automobile parts that are made by third-party manufacturers and those not included in the initial list of parts or available options used to build your vehicle.

If you ever require maintenance or repairs on your vehicle and take the car to a dealer for service, the parts used to make the repair will be from the manufacturer (OEM). If you go with an independent repair shop, you may have an alternative source of cheaper parts available.

Aftermarket parts used for repair are typically of comparable quality as your OEM parts, so they can serve the same function under similar operating conditions. You may also install aftermarket parts as upgrades, intended to improve the look or performance of your automobile. Before you use an aftermarket part, however, you should know a bit of basic information about how it may affect your car's value or performance.

The car value is the actual worth of your vehicle as a trade-in or as a direct sale in the open market. It's comprised of everything from the make and model of the car to its condition and its features.

The use of OEM car parts has little to no effect on the value of your vehicle. Certain aftermarket upgrades, however, can have an effect. Adding custom alloy wheels to the vehicle, for example, can not only add to the appearance of the car but add value as well. Other common aftermarket improvements, such as the addition of an upgraded sound system or body kit, may also increase the value of your vehicle. Unfortunately, each upgrade personalizes the car further, narrowing the possible purchaser pool. Too many upgrades and you may find that you've actually lowered the overall value of the vehicle, despite the combined value of the upgrades.

The installation of performance parts on your automobile is a large part of the automotive aftermarket. Performance parts replace existing parts with those capable of greater efficiency or generally higher performance.

Performance parts can be anything from lighter wheels to an entirely new engine. Many of these parts may have been available in some form as an original car option that you chose not to invest in at the time of purchase. Alternatively, you may have simply preferred the aftermarket manufacturers of the specific upgrades more. Before having a performance part installed in your vehicle you should check local regulations governing acceptable automobile add-ons to make certain the part is legal to add. There are state and federal laws that regulate the performance of automobiles, restricting additions that may adversely affect the safety of the car or its street worthiness. Not all restrictions are performance related, though. Many states restrict window tinting beyond a certain shade, for example, so it's best to check before making any additions.

While aftermarket automobile parts can have an advantage over OEM parts in terms of efficiency, performance and/or the vehicle's resale value, keep in mind that these benefits are by no means guaranteed. Nevertheless, a wide variety of aftermarket parts is available, extending your ability to personalize your automobile to suit your particular needs. Some care should be taken, however, to ensure that any non-OEM parts are legal in your state and that the addition of an aftermarket part does not void the vehicle's warranty.

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