Owning a car is expensive. The American Automobile Association (AAA) says it costs about $8,469 if you drive an average of 15,000 miles a year. But Nerdwallet gets more granular and they calculate a typical monthly cost as follows:
- Auto loan payment: $523
- Fuel: $146
- Insurance: $98
- Maintenance/repairs: $99
- DMV registration: $12
Car owners need to protect their investment and that means finding a reliable and trustworthy place to take it when it needs parts or repairs. For most people, this translates to a choice between the factory dealer that made their car, or the independent repair shop down the street that works on all kinds of cars.
Motorists have similar choices for where they buy auto parts (A related article, “When to Buy Auto Parts for Modern Cars,” will be published soon.) Which parts source should you choose?
- Types of Warranties
- Buying Auto Parts from Dealerships
- Buying Auto Parts from Auto Aftermarket Stores
- Summarizing the Auto Parts Buying Process
We start with a brief discussion of warranties since they figure into parts buying decisions.
Types of Warranties
When you buy a new car from a dealer, you get a bumper-to-bumper warranty for three or four years. This warranty covers almost everything between a vehicle's front and back bumpers — meaning the owner can take the car into the dealership for repairs at no charge if it experiences mechanical failure.
One of the most popular categories today is called “Certified Pre-Owned,” which means that the car has been rigorously inspected by the dealer to meet the manufacturer’s CPO standards and for the most part, is indistinguishable from a new car, except for the odometer. CPO cars have the balance of the original warranty and an extended warranty too. Buying a CPO car is usually a pretty savvy decision.
A warranty is important for expensive repairs, including the engine, drive line, suspension, and electronic control modules.
It’s important to remember that if you install an aftermarket part on your car, and the part or subsystem fails, the dealer may try to deny your warranty claim if they find that the aftermarket part was related to the failure.
Buying Auto Parts from Dealerships
There are good reasons to buy auto parts from a dealer. The parts are produced exactly as produced originally, and match the original part tolerance for thickness, size, clearance, tensile strength, etc. They are called “OE” meaning “original equipment.” They are often called “genuine” or “authentic.” When you buy mechanical parts from the dealer, you can be sure they will work.
There are a lot of good reasons to buy auto parts from a factory OEM dealer, but there are good reasons to buy from the aftermarket too, in some circumstances.
For instance, there are specialty manufacturers which will build aftermarket parts that are designed to be superior to the OEM product. Just look through the forums for off-road Jeeps, or high-end cars such as Porsche, and you will see many custom applications that are specifically designed to improve the OEM performance or reliability. Another example is the huge aftermarket for Jeep 4x4 parts, or replacement air springs for German luxury cars or Range Rovers. And of course, a quality aftermarket shop will also back their product with a warranty because they rely on viral marketing from owner forums and manufacturers clubs, and want good reviews.
And there is another point you should know: the federal government only requires the original manufacturer to produce OEM parts for 10 years. Obviously, it is not cost effective for an OEM to pay for the raw materials, machine tools, and labor to reproduce a 10-year-old part, then inventory it until it finally sells, which could be … well … never.
Buying Auto Parts from Auto Aftermarket Stores
Some aftermarket parts, particularly body parts such as hoods, doors, trunk lids, and fenders are made overseas, and will be substantially cheaper than the OEM versions.
You should also know that tolerances for fit and finish have gotten a lot better in the last decade, and it will be easy to spot a substandard part. There are independent certification authorities whose seal of approval will ensure the product’s quality and performance. Two examples are the Certified Automotive Parts Association and the National Sanitation Foundation – Consumer Products Division. They set and verify standards for the collision parts industry. Another certification is called “Platinum Plus” and comes with a limited lifetime warranty and complies with all International Standards Organization (ISO) requirements.
If you have an older car, you should get to know your local NAPA store or something similar such as Auto Zone or O’Reilly’s. They will have a big inventory of auto parts and if what you want is not in stock, they can usually have it delivered by the next day. You should also check the Internet for parts, particularly if you have a “specialty car” such as a Corvette, or Porsche, or a collector car. For instance, if you are a Mercedes owner, you should definitely check out Ecklers and ask for a catalog, which will quickly become your wish book for new accessories. You will find wonderful things for your car that you never knew existed and now you must have!
Summarizing the Auto Parts Buying Process
As you can see, there are a lot of choices. Your decision will come down to time and money: how soon do you need the part, how convenient it is to take it to the repair facility, and what is your budget?
When you buy from an OEM dealer, you can be confident that you will get the right part and the mechanics are factory trained. With the aftermarket, you have to do your homework.
New car dealers are our largest core market here at CrossCheck. This year we will process over six billion dollars in checks for our OEM dealers. They rely on CrossCheck for a variety of reasons.
First, we guarantee high-dollar checks, so the dealer can take them in confidence and not lose a sale. Second, we also guarantee checks to be deposited in the future on dates chosen by the check writer! Third, we do the banking for the dealer, so they don’t have to send someone to the bank or pay an armored courier. Fourth, we provide a daily file for account reconciliation for all the stores, which streamlines workflow.
A dealer that uses CrossCheck knows they are getting the right parts, authentic and genuine, and they will work just as they were designed to, and the “warranty” is something they can rely on, just like original OEM parts!
Interested dealers can download our free guide to Remote Deposit Capture with Multiple Check to learn how the electronic check processing and future deposit functions can be leveraged into more sales, less risk, and streamlined transactions.