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Parts are parts, right?

Apr 12, 2017

Many years ago, Wendy’s made a commercial that everyone at the time knew by heart. It was about their chicken sandwich. The premise of the commercial was that they sold 100% chicken breast in their sandwiches, and alluded to their competitors that use 100% chicken, but use other “parts” of the chicken in their sandwiches. The commercials message was about “parts are parts”. You can view the Youtube video here. So this months blog is about, you guessed it, parts. Not parts used in chicken sandwiches but rather parts used in the collision repairs to your vehicle.

We have been caught in the middle multiple times when a vehicle owner was told by the insurance company they were getting “new” parts, or “replacement” parts to repair their vehicle. Most vehicle owners have visions in their minds that this means new “Original Equipment” parts that come from the manufacturer of their vehicle. Although the insurance company is right in that they are getting new or replacement parts, it could be said that they are misleading the consumer due to the multiple categories of new and replacement parts. Yes, parts are parts, but there are different kind of parts just as in the Wendy’s commercial. Let me explain.

Parts Categories

We need to break down the parts categories that will likely play a role in the repairs to your vehicle.

Here are a few basic definitions.

OE: This stands for Original Equipment which means these parts are made for your vehicle by the car manufacturer or their vendor according to the original equipment manufacturer’s specifications. These parts are purchased at the dealer that sells the new vehicles. Pretty simple.

Aftermarket: These are “new” parts but are not made by the manufacturer of your vehicle. They are made by a third party based on information they obtain about OE parts, but not necessarily to the manufacturers specifications. Mostly these parts are made overseas and are cheaper in price. This is very attractive to insurance companies as they are always looking for ways to lower their loss exposure.

Opt OE: This is where it gets even more confusing. No one really has a true definition for Opt OE. These parts are sold through a vendor, but not a dealer franchise. These are “left over” parts or may have been rejected by the actual assembly line at the manufacturing plant. Most have defects somewhere and we refer to them as factory seconds. These parts would be equivalent to what they sell at “factory outlet” stores. These are again cheaper than OE.

This ends the definitions of “new” parts, but wait there are more:

Salvage: Sometimes referred to as “used”,  LKQ (like kind and quality) or recycled. These parts come from a salvage yard and are most likely taken from a “totaled” vehicle due to accident, flooding or storm damage. These parts are supposed to be undamaged and are supposed to be equal to the ones that were removed from your damaged vehicle.

Remanufactured: These are damaged parts that have been removed from a damaged vehicle and have been repaired and refitted with some replacement components.

These are the categories of replacement parts. I am not here to argue the relevance of these types of parts or who needs to pay for what, but rather to inform you about the different types of replacement parts. So, as you can see, parts are NOT parts. There is a time and place for each one of these categories of parts. You as a consumer need to choose which parts suit your situation. You have the right to request the types of parts you want replaced on your vehicle, but the insurance company has the right to choose which parts they are willing to pay for. They would expect you to pay the difference in price. Their choice will always be the cheapest alternative. We as body shops cannot force an insurance company to pay for something that they are unwilling to pay for. Insurance companies are obligated to you, the vehicle owner, and not the repair facility.

This blog is to inform you of all the different types of parts available for your repairs, but the choice is yours!