In this article I address the issues surrounding aftermarket repair parts and try to assuage any potential customers who may nervous about buying them for reasons which are typically due to deliberate disinformation on the part of auto parts manufacturers.
If one is at all familiar with the automotive industry press, you would immediately see that there is a lot of propaganda surrounding the issue of aftermarket repair parts in the press recently. Many auto manufacturers are currently attempting to exploit loopholes in our current patent laws to allow then to possess exclusive manufacturing patents on repair parts as well, which would give them an effective monopoly on the repair part market. This push is being sold as a move to ensure quality and reliability of repair parts, but is really just another cynical marketing ploy by the auto industry to gain a corner on a market they don’t feel they should have to compete with.
Aftermarket parts are, in fact, of no noticeable difference in quality than the original part they replace. There have been a number of developments in the aftermarket repair part world over the course of the last ten years, not the least of which has been the creation of the ASE and CAPA certification standards that have helped to ensure that rigorous standards of reliability are met. When you buy a part that has been verified by these independent third-party systems, you can feel confident that the part you are buying is a guaranteed “true fit equivalent” which is made of materials that are at least equal to and sometimes better than the original. To say that there is any doubt as to whether or not a third party can build a reliable replacement part should strike anyone as a bit silly. How can auto manufacturers suggest that they are the only ones who could build replacement parts of high enough quality to replace the ones of theirs that already broke.
The repair part industry, like all industries in a free market economy, generates benefits to the consumers when competition creates better, cheaper, and more effective products to choose from. Without the market incentive of competition, little changes will come down the pike to help consumers. It is naïve to believe that the current auto manufacturing industry only has quality standards in mind when they make claims that will ultimately give them a corner on a market for which they have no incentive provide cheaper repair parts to. I would be extremely dubious when a manufacturer makes claims about aftermarket parts merely because aftermarket parts are a threat to their undeserved market dominance.