What are aftermarket auto parts?

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aftermarket auto parts
A wide variety of auto parts can be purchased from aftermarket performance parts retailers
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Save money on car repairs and upgrades with aftermarket auto parts


The car manufacturers build what are referred to as stock automobiles which means they were constructed of stock materials assembled in the factory. Any options that are installed in the factory are called stock options. 

This means that all the components used were original parts that came from the company's regular suppliers that are under contract. This includes the engine, frame, transmission, interior, lighting, and wheels. The common term for this is "OEM" which is shorthand for original equipment manufacturer.

But what are aftermarket auto parts? Once the automobile leaves the plant, the consumer has the option of replacing parts or installing new options with OEM or aftermarket auto parts. Commonly known as aftermarket, these parts are made by a company that did not make the original part.

You can find authentic Chevy parts, Ford parts, and aftermarket parts for every other make and  model of car.

Why car owners use aftermarket auto parts

One of the main reasons for purchasing aftermarket performance parts is that they are often cheaper than OEM. In a way, they resemble generic drugs that are almost always cheaper than original prescription drugs. Americans have always had a love affair with cars, and it's not unusual for them to modify their cars with options that they could not afford to purchase from the dealer. It's one way to get the individualized car you want without paying retail OEM prices.

How aftermarket auto parts are used

This is big business in the United States because of the large number of cars on the road. Many people are keeping their cars longer because of the economic downturn which has resulted in the need for more replacement parts.

There's also a significant demand for aftermarket auto parts to upgrade and customize stock automobiles. Some aftermarket companies thrive on their ability to specialize in certain parts that give a car a unique look or outstanding performance. Some of these include special rims, custom air intakes, one-of-a-kind graphics, and specially designed sound systems.

Many enthusiasts want to take their stock automobile to the next level by making it into the fastest and best-looking on the street. Automotive performance enhancements such as high-end carburetors, upgraded transmissions, and modified suspensions will make them stand out in a crowd.

Things to watch out for

If your car is still under warranty, use of aftermarket auto parts may void the warranty. After you determine what are aftermarket auto parts you can use for car repairs, make sure you check the fine print before making any purchases. You should also ensure that these parts do not violate any laws and that they comply with all EPA regulations. Areas of possible conflict include window tinting, headlight and taillight modifications, exhaust system changes that elevate noise levels, and anything that alters the emission levels beyond legal limits. The fact that you can buy something and put it on your car doesn't mean it's legal.

Make certain that the aftermarket auto parts are designed to fit your specific car model and year. While many of these parts can easily be installed by the owner, some may require the assistance of an experienced mechanic. Also inspect the quality and reliability records of the parts to ensure that they will perform as well or better than OEM parts.

The future of aftermarket auto parts

The demand for aftermarket auto parts is likely to increase as automobiles age and people hold onto them longer. The range of parts is all-encompassing, and the parts are available for both light and heavy duty vehicles. You can usually save money on accessories, tires, lubricants, appearance products, and the tools and equipment needed to work on your own car.

If you have your car repaired out of warranty, you should have the option of using OEM or aftermarket auto parts. This may save you money on replacement parts required for routine service and collision repairs.

Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association
Wikipedia: Automotive Aftermarket

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