Below is a description of each of the common replacement part types used in collision repair. These descriptions are important because we have found that most of our customers are never informed about the different part types and the differences in quality between them by their insurance company. Part type selection is usually the main reason an insurance or another body shops estimate differs in price from ours. We feel that by explaining these part differences to our customers they will have the opportunity to choose which parts fits their needs better and help them avoid receiving lesser quality parts in a repair without them knowing it.
Original Factory Replacement parts (OEM)
OEM replacement parts are made by the vehicle manufacture and are the exact same parts used to build the vehicle originally. OEM parts are the best choice when returning a vehicle to pre-accident condition for several reasons.
1) Safety; vehicles are designed to crush a certain way in a collision to protect the occupants. The body parts are part of this designed safety feature and are made to bend in a way that helps them avoid entering the passenger area and causing injuries. This is achieved by using predetermined crush zones and a proper metal thickness.
2) Durability; OEM parts have received the proper rust preventing factory processes and primers that the vehicle originally had. This combined with being made from the correct metal thickness, makes OEM parts last longer by not allowing rust to begin prematurely.
3) Quality, OEM parts are manufactured with the same tooling as the vehicles original parts. One of the first tell-tale signs that a vehicle has been in an accident is by seeing that body lines are mismatched or panels not Aligned. Having the exact edges, corners and body contour lines made into replacement parts is crucial for an undetectable repair that protects the vehicles value.
Aftermarket parts (A/M)
An Aftermarket part is a copy of a OEM part and is a money saving option when used in collision repairs. A/M parts are manufactured overseas by tooling that was made to imitate the look and performance of an original part, but like any imitation A/M parts are not the same. Typical issues with A/M parts are
- Poor fit including improper body lines and edges
- Thinner metal that reveals a “warped” look after paint
- Lack of corrosion protection
- Missing mounting holes and brackets
View the video comparing A/M and OEM parts
On older vehicles or when repair cost is a concern, A/M parts may be a suitable option. Although in many cases, A/M parts require more labor to install due to the extra time needed to achieve an acceptable fit, which defeats the purpose of saving money. Other than A/M body parts, radiators, air conditioner condensers and some mechanical parts are options in collision repairs.
Reconditioned parts (recon)
Reconditioned parts are parts that were previously damaged in an accident, picked out of the garbage and sent to a “reconditioning facility” and repaired. Typically bumper covers and aluminum wheels are reconditioned and are usually available at a cost less than an A/M or OEM part, making reconditioned parts the least expensive option for use in collision repairs.
Unfortunately most reconditioned bumper covers we have dealt with were returned due to having poor quality repairs, un-repaired damage or having an unsuitable or to thick of a primer application. On reconditioned wheels, there is a question of safety since the extent of the previous damage and repair is not known.
Used parts or “like, kind & quality” (LKQ)
LKQ parts are purchased from salvage yards who purchase “totaled” vehicles and dismantle them for parts. LKQ parts cost less than OEM parts but require additional labor and materials to bring them to a usable condition. Virtually every LKQ painted body part has some type of damage and requires some form of repair. Many LKQ parts have to be returned due to the amount of repair needed or a previous repair that was detected. LKQ parts also generally extends the repair time of the vehicle due to additional part orders and the extra time repairing them. Depending on the parts needing replacement, LKQ parts may be a money saving, proper repair decision. D&M Auto Body will not consider LKQ suspension parts or welded replacement body panels in our repairs. LKQ suspension parts are potentially unsafe and re-using welded LKQ parts is a poor repair.