Four Things to Know Before Buying Auto Parts, according to AutoMD.com

Expert mechanics dispel the myths, and provide car owners with important facts and advice on buying auto parts

Carson, CA – June 8, 2011 – According to a recent report from AutoMD.com, an increasing number of consumers are doing their own car repairs,1 which means these DIYers are probably buying auto parts -- but what should these auto parts buyers know about the difference between an OEM and an aftermarket part? And what of the 90% of ’Do-It-For-Me’ car owners2 who say that if they could buy their own auto parts and take them to the repair shop, they would... can they and should they? And how can car owners who buy their own auto parts save money – and still be sure that their vehicle is safe on the road?

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Today, the team of expert mechanics at AutoMD.com answers these questions, dispelling the top four common myths about buying auto parts.

Top Four Auto Parts Buying Myths

Myth #1: OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are always better than aftermarket parts.

Fact: OEM parts are not always better.

In many cases, OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer who created the parts for the automaker. A typical vehicle is produced using about 2,500 individual parts, from hundreds of different suppliers. An aftermarket part can also, in certain cases, be made by the same manufacturer who made the OEM part. But even if it isn’t, aftermarket component manufacturers have the benefit of seeing how the OEM part has performed. They have become very sophisticated in analyzing this and in making improvements in product life and/or performance characteristics – and usually at a much lower cost than the OEM part. So, car owners can realize significant savings by purchasing aftermarket parts and extended warranties are generally readily available for these parts.

Myth #2: If I install an aftermarket part, my new car warranty is void.

Fact: The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prevents manufacturers from voiding your warranty based on the use of aftermarket products.

According to the act, no warrantor may condition the continued validity of a warranty on the use of only authorized repair service and/or authorized replacement parts for non-warranty service and maintenance.

Myth #3: Repair Shops won't install parts I have purchased online or at an auto parts store.

Fact: Many repair shops will install parts purchased elsewhere, helping car owners realize significant cost-savings. It is important to note, however, that they may not always warranty their labor.

Most repair shops/dealerships make a profit on the parts they use in a repair. Today, educated consumers are realizing significant cost-savings by choosing instead to buy the part at an auto parts store or online. And, more and more shops are willing to install parts purchased elsewhere: a recent phone survey of over 125,000 repair shops, conducted by AutoMD.com, revealed that 48% were willing to install parts brought in by customers. But make sure you check before going to the shop to see if they will install those parts; and, if they are willing, keep in mind, that they might only guarantee labor if they make a mistake, not if the part fails or is defective in some way. So, it could end up costing you more money if you bring in a low-quality part that fails and has to be replaced.

Expensive parts that require little time to install, such as a brake caliper or an alternator, will realize the greatest cost savings when purchased elsewhere and then taken to the shop. On the other hand, if the repair requires only a twenty-dollar part, and two-hours for installation, it is probably best to stick with the repair shop part.

Myth #4: You should never buy remanufactured, reconditioned or used parts.

Fact: New parts are not always available and used, remanufactured or reconditioned parts may be the only alternative.

Remanufactured parts are parts that have been disassembled, cleaned, and adjusted to perform like new. Today, remanufacturers have come a long way and, in many cases, are using new components in their product. The quality can be very close to new. In addition, remanufactured parts are backed by a warranty. In some cases, it may make sense to buy a used (recycled) or reconditioned part (parts for cars often no longer in OEM production that have been rebuilt) if you can't afford a new part, or if a new part isn't available.

Top Four Tips for Buying Auto Parts

  1. Buy aftermarket parts from a reputable brand/source.
    Aftermarket parts vary drastically in quality. Some may or may not meet or exceed OEM requirements, so be sure to buy reputable brands from a trusted source.
  2. Avoid universal parts whenever possible.
    A universal part is a part that fits more than one type of vehicle, and may require some modification to fit a specific vehicle. While universal parts are usually less expensive, they can be more difficult to install than parts designed for a specific vehicle, so, unless you have experience installing them, it is better not to use them.
  3. Research parts online.
    For DIYers who plan to do repairs themselves, go online to compare parts prices and warranties for the best deals, and be sure to check out AutoMD.com for How-to-Guides on all types of auto repairs.
  4. Check in with the repair shop before you go.
    Before buying parts to be installed by the repair shop, be sure to check ahead of time to see if the shop will actually install them, and make sure the part you buy is a quality part.

1 Nearly half of respondents (48.7%) say they're more likely to do their own auto repairs today than a year ago, according to the AutoMD.com Online Repair Information Report: http://www.automd.com/about-automd/press/04-12-2011

2 90% of DFMers surveyed answered yes to the question: If you could buy the part needed for a particular repair and bring it into the shop, would you do that? AutoMD.com DIY Report, October 2010.