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Home / What You Need to Know About Generic and Brand-Name Auto Parts
All vehicles need maintenance or repairs at some point in time. Your car might even need some now without your knowing it — one recent survey showed that 77% of cars need some type of fix. At the more expensive end of these fixes are engine and transmission repairs, the two most costly types of repair in the United States; at the other end are relatively low-cost but still vital repairs such as replacing contaminated brake fluid — a problem that affects about 18% of cars, according to the same survey. One way to lower such auto repair costs is to ask your technicians to use generic replacement parts, rather than those made by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM; the same company that made your car). Here’s what you need to know about this decision:
The Pros and Cons of Generic Parts
The greatest advantage of generic parts, of course, is that they’re generally priced lower than OEM parts. You’ll probably also get better availability and a wider selection — which can be particularly helpful if you’re looking to repair an older car for which the manufacturer has stopped making the parts you need. The downside of generic parts is that most states don’t regulate their parts industries, which means it’s difficult to judge quality without the brand name to give you some sense of security. Most of these generic parts also won’t come with a warranty.
The Pros and Cons of Name-Brand Parts
The biggest advantage of paying for OEM parts is that you can rely on the consistency that comes along with a certain brand. When you use Lexus repair parts as part of your Lexus service, you know you’ll be getting the highest possible quality. You should keep in mind, however, that auto repair shops sometimes give quotes assuming that you’ll want generic parts, and some insurance companies will even require that you pay the difference if you want OEM parts used in an otherwise covered repair.
“Generic” Vs. “Aftermarket” Parts
When it comes to parts that aren’t made by a vehicle’s original manufacturer, you’re likely to hear two terms: “generic” and “aftermarket.” These technically mean the same thing — parts made by a third party — but have very different connotations. Aftermarket parts are typically thought of as an upgrade, something used to enhance a car’s performance beyond market standards; generic parts are simply intended to replace OEM parts and provide acceptable quality. As you’re considering replacement part options, it’s a good idea to keep this difference in mind.
Using Common Sense on Pricing
Just as when you’re buying name-brand or store-brand products at the grocery store, part of what you’re paying for is name recognition. But unlike when you’re grocery shopping, sub-par parts can increase physical and financial risk significantly. You should also weigh the cost of the repair parts against the value of the car. If you’re driving a standard Honda, it’s probably fine to leave the decision up to your repair techs; if you’re taking your car in for Lexus service or service on other luxury brands, you may want to pay a bit more attention.
Would you want Lexus repair parts used as part of Lexus service, or would you tend toward generic replacement parts? Discuss in the comments.