Aftermarket Parts: A Way To Deny New Car Warranties

September 11, 2010

Car dealers tend to be in the driver’s seat when the call has to be made on what is covered by your new car warranty. How can that be, you say, it’s all there in black and white with the bundle of small print they give you when they install your temp tags? Well, maybe and maybe not.

Consider a story I heard recently from what I consider a reliable source. A new car dealer refused to cover a failed Mass Air Flow Sensor under warranty because a bug had been sucked into it through an aftermarket air filter which the owner’s boyfriend installed. The dealer’s position was no OEM part, no warranty coverage. A check of online chat indicates that this has happened before and that the cause and effect part of the story is actually quite plausible.

With this context consider a recent American Honda position statement that has the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) defending the quality of parts marketed by their members. Especially disturbing to the president of the AASA was the statement’s inference that aftermarket parts may present the same risks as counterfeit or gray market parts. A gray market is one in which parts are bought and sold in a manner not intended by the manufacturer and beyond its control.

It should not be a surprise that putting the warranty in jeopardy is held out as a possible consequence of installing anything other than OEM parts. “American Honda will not be responsible for any subsequent repair costs associated with vehicle or part failures caused by the use of parts other than Honda Genuine parts purchased from an authorized US Honda dealer,” is how the American Honda position statement addresses the use of non-Honda parts.

Steve Handschuh, the AASA president pointed out in an Aftermarket Business article that many of the manufacturers serving the aftermarket produce parts for the original equipment sector and that they “are equal in fit, form, function, quality and value to OEM replacement products and in many cases they perform better."

So other than digging deeper into your wallet (OEM parts are generally more expensive) what can you do to protect your vehicle? One possible strategy would be to avoid the cheaper quality of aftermarket part. Often stores like NAPA or Carquest will have different grades of replacement parts which is reflected in the price. This is one time when you can be penny wise and dollar foolish and even the premium grade will most likely be cheaper than the car dealer’s part.

Concerning the ultimate outcome of the American Honda position statement the AASA president offered a thought, "As to the legality of their statements, that is a matter that will best be decided by the Federal Trade Commission.”

[Aftermarket Business]

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