Over time, that awesome new-car-smell is going to fade and you are also going to start needing new bits and pieces as they reach the end of their shelf-life.
With the average cost of replacement parts being in the region of $202 according to car MD, this can be an expensive exercise. It makes sense to look for the cheapest alternatives when it comes to car parts, but will they affect your warranty?
Replacing parts of your car can be a gray area when it comes to your vehicle warranty. Most motor vehicle owners believe that they have to use genuine OEM parts to maintain their warranty.
This is simply not the case. By law, using aftermarket parts, second-hand parts, or remanufactured parts may not affect your warranty.
Let’s find out why.
The law is on your side
According to the Magnus Moss Warranty act of 1975, an automotive manufacturer may not force you to purchase OEM parts to maintain your vehicle.
The Act forbids “Tie-In” Sales Provisions which require the purchaser of a warrantied product to purchase anything from a specific provider in order to uphold the warranty.
What they can do is indicate that unless repairs and maintenance are done by an authorized dealer, the warranty will not apply if the workmanship is below standard.
The only exceptions are where the manufacturer can prove that their product will malfunction unless genuine parts are used. In this case, they need to apply to the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to include such a clause in their warranty.
OEM parts vs genuine parts
Genuine parts are made specifically for new motor vehicles by an outside company. These parts are sanctioned by automotive manufacturers and are exactly the same as the part your car originally had. Genuine parts always come in a box with the automotive manufacturer’s logo on it.
OEM parts are the same as genuine parts and manufactured by the same producer. The only difference is that they are unmarked and will have no auto logo on the box. If your car is under 4 years old, you can pick up these parts at a cheaper rate.
If your warranty covers the replacement cost of parts, always use genuine or OEM parts.
Alternatives to OEM and genuine parts
With the high cost of OEM and genuine parts, it is a relief to know that you have lower cost alternatives. These are:
These parts are not made by the original manufacturer. Aftermarket parts are available in varying degrees of quality and may sometimes even be better than the original.
Reputable manufacturers take care to reverse engineer parts in order to eliminate any weaknesses. Do your research before using these kinds of parts to ensure that you are getting the best quality.
Aftermarket parts are a cost-effective alternative for vehicles that are over 4 years old.
Rebuilt and Remanufactured parts
Motor vehicle parts often fail because of small internal items that have worn out. When you purchase a rebuilt or remanufactured part, you are purchasing a used part that has been taken apart, serviced, repaired and re-assembled.
These types of replacement items are much cheaper than new parts. They are a good option for older cars with high mileage.
If you like an environmentally and pocket-friendly alternative for repairing your vehicle, used parts are the way to go. They are the least expensive type of parts as they are older and will not last as long.
It is possible to find high quality used car parts if you do your homework correctly.
Choosing Aftermarket Parts
Always use genuine or OEM parts to replace items like brakes, steering or suspension. These items could cause a serious accident if they fail, so it is a good idea to be cautious when replacing them.
When choosing aftermarket parts for your car, be sure to check if they have been tested under Title 49, the Bumper Act of 1976. While this Act specifically applies to motor vehicle bumpers, it is seen as the standard for aftermarket parts too.
Basically, the Bumper Act implies that any part intended to replace an original part must do the job as well as the original.
Be wary of low-quality fakes. There has been a dramatic increase in the sale of fake OEM parts recently and the same applies to aftermarket parts. A reputable repair shop will know how to source the highest quality parts and is entitled to refuse using anything else, even if your insurance company suggests it.
A Word of Advice
Before you commence with any repairs to your motor vehicle make sure that they will not affect your warranty. The warranty is a legal and binding contract between you and the manufacturer that built your car.
Your end of the deal is to maintain and care for your car properly and the manufacturer is responsible for bearing the costs of any malfunctioning parts.
The type of parts you use in your car, as well as the work done on it, can affect your warranty, so it makes sense to check first.
The Federal Trade Commission advises the following to avoid problems with your warranty:
- Go to the section entitled, “What Is Not Covered.” To see any exclusions in your warranty.
- Know how long your warranty is valid for.
- The onus is on you to make sure that using aftermarket parts does not void your warranty or damage your vehicle.
- Keep copies of all your service records, including the receipts. These can be used to prove that you cared for the vehicle in a satisfactory manner. They also come in handy if you decide to sell your car.
If you choose aftermarket parts for your vehicle and your warranty claim is denied, complain.
According to the FTC, it is the dealer’s responsibility to prove that the part caused the need for any further repairs before they can refuse to pay for them. If that doesn’t help, go higher up the chain of command, or go to another dealer.
The onus is on you to make sure that using aftermarket parts does not void your warranty or damage your vehicle.