The aftermarket automotive industry is one the most steadily growing in the US, especially with the way online retailing makes parts available over increasingly wider areas. Aftermarket car parts are gaining popularity in rapport with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) pieces – the parts with which a brand new car initially comes – due to them becoming increasingly similar and even better in quality at more convenient price ranges for the consumers.
For that reason, aftermarket auto shops are becoming more and more prevalent – and even those manufacturers that are associated with producing OEM pieces, such as ACDelco for General Motors, have nowadays aftermarket producing units in certain areas – be it filters, brakes or alternators – whose sale are generally unrestricted to car model.
While performance parts might sometimes be below standard of OEM equipment and may come with shallow to non-existant warranty, the aftermarket automotive for body parts has fewer obstacles in credibility. It’s not really that customers aren’t interested in the quality of their vehicle’s looks – but the fact is that body parts are still the most easily damageable, so having cheap and discreet back-ups for them is welcome in many-a-purchaser’s book.
Now, it is still recommended that for cases of collision repair, OEM pieces should be sought first, as they have the maximum guarantee of reshaping your car the exact way it was before the accident, and generally speaking, your insurance company should pay for the repairs anyway. However, there may appear cases where either your vehicle is old enough – in case of classical or muscle cars especially – that no new OEM is available for it, or where damage factors such as rust or nasty scratches will cost more to repair than buying a similar body part from the aftermarket.
Aftermarket parts catalogs
The wide range of U.S. automotive aftermarket suppliers can make a foray into them confusing and time-consuming at first, with even finding the exact type of vendor you’re looking for time-consuming. Fortunately, dealers are steadily adapting to the necessity of making customer browsing an easier time online, and today there are lots of catalogs that help you sort through thousands of pieces online when in search for those certain car accessories or performance parts.
These work akin to car catalogs that online car stores offer; only that instead of browsing for cheap cars, your goal is to find and buy cheap auto parts. Some of them are mini-search engines in their own right, such as part-finder.com, which works as a Google that will only show relevant results from car parts vendors. For example, a quick search for “chevy monte carlo audio” brought up a site on top that recommended quite a number of aftermarket audio systems for a Chevy Monte Carlo.
General vs. specialized retailers
Life for you is even easier if you’re accustomed to using online retailers such as eBay or Amazon, whose motors division hold the biggest share of this market; even Walmarts and Sears nowadays sell some degree of auto replacement parts, such as batteries or repair kits and tools. However, they also host the highest percentage of untrustworthy deals, due to poor or lacking guarantees. And you won’t generally be in luck if you’re searching for high performance parts.
Like in many other cases, the smaller and more specialized an aftermarket company is, the more chance you have of finding that exact rare stereo system or battery for your showpiece muscle car. Now, if you’re searching for performance parts at the best prices, it would be ideal if you had technician acquaintances within the market, which could tell you the real wholesale performance auto parts price tag – which is the price at which specialized aftermarket manufacturers sell to retailers in bulks. Anything lower than that price could mean a the piece is compromised quality-wise, while significantly higher prices could see you ripped off; smart shoppers will make an estimate of a reasonable price range which would get them the necessary pieces.
The same applies to auto body parts. Customers need to be wary that even if specific body parts, such as bumpers or side panels, are made 100 percent based off the car model they are stated to fit with it, the catch may be that cheaper materials and paint jobs are being used that could degrade or even damage faster than OEM. It would be handy to have a technician inspect them before installation, so you can cite warranty to return or replace them if the case appears.
Worth and functionality
But the US automotive aftermarket industry has evolved much since past times – when incidents like the one stated above were quite frequent – both in credibility and quality of its pieces. With the rise of the online, it’s the accessibility even for rarer pieces that is fueling the market. For example, if you’re based in California and you need a replacement fog light cover for your mighty Dodge Charger that doesn’t compromise its classic aesthetic, you’re just a couple of clicks away from ordering one from the Texas-based National Autobody Parts Warehouse.
Perhaps the best example for functionality in this case is that of aftermarket car bumpers. Car bumpers are some of the most easily damageable and degradable body parts, while also being in many cases vital to the vehicle’s personality and aspect. Repairing a dented or rusty bumper at repair shops might cost way more than it warrants, despite the fact that it is no great engineering feat, while OEM replacement parts might either not be available or take time to order.
An online aftermarket retailer will have you a replace bumper sent in a couple of days, and might even offer strong warranty; though beware, your insurance company might have you pay more for it. But this might also come in handy in situations where a second-hand vehicle you bought came with a non-original bumper, and you feel the need to make it look like it’s supposed to. Either way, the automotive aftermarket comes very much in handy in situations like this – and the cheaper prices make many of those using it feel as though they’re getting replacement parts for free; with more and more people wanting to join the club each year in this excitingly growing consumer habit.