Proper maintenance is essential if you hope to get the most life out of your vehicle, and a large part of that process involves selecting and using high-quality parts that match your car’s specifications.
Whenever possible, you should try to use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts because although aftermarket parts are less expensive, they are not made specifically for your vehicle. OEM parts can be found in a variety of stores, but the best place to find them is through your dealership.
Armed with your car’s VIN, parts may be ordered easily online through the car dealership’s website, by calling, or by going into your local dealer’s and asking for the parts dept. Dealer parts staff are knowledgeable and have access to all the information needed to order the correct parts.
Although this sounds simple, it can become confusing. Many dealerships have websites specifically for ordering parts, but they can sometimes be hard to find, and scammers take advantage of this. Keep reading to find out more about ordering parts through a dealership.
What Are OEM Parts?
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are parts that are made by the manufacturer to match the original factory-installed parts. Original parts are those that were installed on the assembly line. Although people often confuse “Original” to mean factory-installed, OEM parts are not the original parts. However, they are made to match the original parts and fit the vehicle’s specifications exactly.
It is interesting to note that the term OEM comes from a Dutch term “under eigen merk,” which means “under own brand”.
What are Aftermarket Parts?
Aftermarket parts are not made by the vehicle’s original manufacturer but are instead produced by independent companies. They are created to match the original parts, but since they are not created by the original manufacturer, they may not fit the vehicle as perfectly as an OEM part would. Therefore, aftermarket parts are typically less expensive than OEM parts.
Where Do Dealerships Order Parts From?
Most dealerships only sell OEM parts because those are the parts that will best fit your vehicle, and therefore will perform best. Exactly where the parts are ordered from will depend on your location, the vehicle you are ordering parts for, and the dealership in question. Typically, dealerships will order OEM parts right from the manufacturer or from a local parts distributor.
Do I Need to Order Parts from the Dealership?
Nobody is going to force you to order parts from the dealership, but it is a clever idea to buy OEM parts whenever possible and the dealership will be the best place to access these parts because they can look up your vehicle by the VIN and find the exact part that you need.
However, life happens, and cars have a way of breaking down when we least expect it. If you are living on a strict budget and were not expecting to spend money on repairs, or cannot afford to buy the more expensive parts, you can typically find aftermarket parts that will work. However, in some rare cases, aftermarket parts that do not fit the vehicle well may cause more problems overall.
If you do decide to purchase aftermarket parts instead of buying from a local dealership, make sure you research the company from which you are buying the part and read the reviews to make sure people have had satisfactory results.
Another important thing to remember is that scammers will often take advantage of people who are looking for the cheapest way to repair their vehicle. You can avoid these frauds by researching the company, reading reviews, and using common sense. If the average price for the parts is $350 and you find one for $50, it’s probably a scam. That’s not to say that good deals don’t exist, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Will a Mechanic Use Parts from a Dealership When Repairing My Vehicle?
If you go to the dealership to have your vehicle repaired, they will use OEM parts, which they will order from a supplier who manufactures parts for your vehicle. However, if you go to a local mechanic or small auto shop, they will probably use aftermarket parts. You can ask that they order parts from the dealership or use only OEM parts, but since they probably won’t have these parts in stock, you might have to wait for the parts to arrive.
Will Insurance Companies Cover Parts from the Dealership?
Insurance companies are usually required by their contract to restore a vehicle to the same condition it was in before the accident occurred. One would think that if the vehicle had original parts on it, that the insurance company would have to cover the original parts. However, depending on where you get the vehicle repaired, this may not be the case.
Insurance companies will try to save money whenever possible. Although some areas have laws governing the use of aftermarket parts, insurance companies will often use them if they can. You can request the vehicle be repaired with parts from the dealership, but you may be asked to pay the difference in price.
Additionally, it will depend on where you get the vehicle fixed and how proactive you are in the repair process. If you take the vehicle to a dealership for repairs, they will use OEM parts. However, if you take it to a local mechanic, they will probably use aftermarket parts because that is what they will presumably have in stock. It is never a good idea to leave it up to the mechanic to contact the insurance company regarding the repairs, and you should work out the details yourself whenever possible.
How Can I Buy Parts from a Dealership?
There are a couple of ways in which you can buy parts from a dealership. The first, and the most obvious, way is to go directly to the dealership. If you visit a dealership repair shop, they will have trained professionals available to help you find the correct part for your vehicle.
Another popular way to order parts from a dealership is through the website of the dealership. This may be confusing, however, because most dealerships have a separate page for ordering parts. Scammers often take advantage of this and will make websites that offer cheap OEM parts.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.