New vs. Aftermarket


Aftermarket parts do not make the grade

Aftermarket Parts Crash Test

Full Report Grand Am Fender


Imitation / Aftermarket Parts

Insurance companies often include the use of “imitation” or non-original sheet metal replacement parts on their estimates. They never actually call these inferior parts "imitations. The fact of the matter is that these parts are not made to the same exacting standards as those from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (O.E.M.). Rather than calling these parts what they truly are, insurers prefer friendlier terms and use their abbreviations in their insurance estimates to pass them off as quality parts to the uneducated consumer, such as: "Quality Replacement Part" (QRP) or "Like, Kind and Quality" (LKQ). These parts, usually from offshore companies based in overseas countries such as: Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, etc. by a poorly compensated, impoverished work force. These parts lack the corrosion protection, precise engineering, and higher safety and quality standards afforded in O.E.M. parts. “Aftermarket” or non-original plastic/ rubber bumpers, while not requiring the same corrosion resistance of sheet metal, often lack the paint adhesion qualities of their Original Equipment Manufacturer counterparts.

The process used to make these aftermarket (A/M) parts is also inferior. The offshore manufacturers do not have access to the original molding, engineering designs, dimensions and tooling equipment so they use a "reverse manufacturing process".  It’s a process where they take the part and make a mold, from that mold, they make the "die" or "stamp" for the imitation part. These additional steps used to achieve a “copy” leave room for additional tolerance (slop). It is not uncommon to have a variance of more than 10 millimeters on an imitation part when compared to a quality O.E.M. piece of similar appearance.

Time after time, these imitation parts have been shown to be inferior in terms of fit (typically evidenced by slotted holes or reworked body lines), overall finish (low grade primers), and corrosion resistance (demonstrated by salt spray testing). Independent studies (such as the one published in Consumer Reports® magazine in February of 1999) have consistently shown the inequities of these poor quality parts when compared to their original counterparts.

Aside from initial quality issues such as fit, corrosion resistance, and finish, these parts have been demonstrated to lead to increased damage in cases of subsequent collisions. That is, their use can actually lead to increased damage (and increased repair costs) if the vehicle is subject to in another collision involving the area(s) where the imitation parts were installed...

This isn’t just our opinion… The Massachusetts Division of Insurance held a meeting on the safety concerns of aftermarket parts. Here are a few quotes from their report.

 The full version can be found here:

Quotes from the Auto Damage Appraisers Licensing Board Report

On March 21" and March 28th 2000 the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board "Board" held an informational hearing at the request of the Commissioner of Insurance, Linda Ruthardt , regarding the safety and availability of after market parts. Here are some of their findings:

The Volvo video clearly does show the hidden danger inherent in the use of an inferior part. The after market hood in the video "buckled just like the original" but then proceeded to enter the passenger compartment during the crash while the original hood did not. 

The safest choice may in fact cost the consumer more money.

Reliable physical evidence with respect to the safety of aftermarket structural parts is hard to come by. 

The Board was presented with several examples of aftermarket structural parts that were clearly not the equal of OEM parts with respect to their weight, methods of reinforcement (bracing) and thickness of metal

These parts, because they are lighter, thinner and less braced, are clearly not of like/kind/quality to OEM parts.

 "Structural after-market parts are not of like/kind/quality to OEM parts and therefore, the use of after-market parts may compromise the over-all safety of the vehicle" if it is in a subsequent auto accident. 

Aftermarket “cosmetic" crash parts appear to suffer from the same manufacturing defects as aftermarket structural parts.  

Their overall weight, rigidity and quality of both metal and plastics, differs from their OEM counterparts.

It is, we believe, very safe to assert in writing that the quality and fit of after-market cosmetic parts are not the equal of an original.

With respect to the safety issue involved in the use of cosmetic after-market parts, the Board voted 3-2 that "after-market cosmetic parts are not the exact duplicate of the factory original parts and may jeopardize the safety and value of the vehicle".

An improperly manufactured cosmetic part has the very real potential to affect the safety of an auto. 

Testimony received by the Board indicated that the improperly finished edge on a metal part could "slice open” the hand of the technician trying to install it.  

A fender or hood that fails to crumple properly can transfer the force of the crash into the passenger compartment, a hood that fails to “crumple” can thrust itself through the windshield and then into the interior of the vehicle. These are two examples of needless risks posed by the use of an improperly made aftermarket part. 

The aftermarket manufacturers can and must improve the quality of their parts. 

If quality rather than cost becomes the over-riding guiding principle used by appraisers in preparing an appraisal report, the use of poorly made parts would immediately and significantly drop. 

The motor vehicle owner must do his/her part. He/she must not accept the use of parts that are visibly inferior to the damaged parts. If they do, the safety of their vehicle and its value may both suffer. 

A disturbing aspect to the use of any aftermarket part by any resident of Massachusetts or any other state is the complete lack of a product safety testing or product safety recall program by either the manufacturer or the distributor of these aftermarket parts. 

The Board is convinced that both the metal and plastics used in the equipment manufacture of after market parts is not always of the same strength and durability as the metal and plastics used by the original manufacturer.  

The use of materials that are weaker than, or stronger than the original, can affect safety. Similarly, the strength of the weld material can affect the integrity of the weld joint when it is subjected to torque pressure. 

There is no agency-international, Federal, or state that monitors or evaluates the suitability of an after market part as it leaves the plant of the manufacturer to distributor like Veng® or Keystone® then to an auto body shop and ultimately the auto. 

If a part does not fit correctly, if a weld is too weak, if in fact a part is unsafe for use there does not exist a system or method of identifying who may have bought a similar part. 

Currently, it is not possible to specifically warn any purchaser of an after market part of a defect.