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Aftermarket Car Parts: Are They Worth a Fleet Operator’s Money?

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When you think of aftermarket car parts, car shows often come to mind. You wouldn’t normally expect mufflers and other cosmetic enhancements from cargo trucks and tour vans. But manufacturers of heavy-duty parts are starting to change to the norm. It appears that trucks and other commercial vehicles can also benefit from aftermarket modifications.

What are Aftermarket Parts?

Aftermarket parts are the opposite of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. They are manufactured by third-party companies, unlike OEM parts that come from dealerships. As such, aftermarket parts are often less costly than OEM parts and are readily available.

If you haven’t dealt with aftermarket car parts yet, you might worry that they won’t be compatible with your fleet. You don’t have to worry about that because aftermarket car parts aren’t like smartphone accessories that should strictly match the phone by brand. For example, Apple products would work best with AirPods and MagSafe chargers. In the case of vehicles, aftermarket car parts can come from any reputable manufacturer, and the product would work without problems.

In fact, buying aftermarket car parts often enhance the performance of a vehicle. For this reason, certain auto parts are also labeled as “performance parts.” Examples of such are exhaust systems. Aftermarket exhaust parts increase horsepower, speed, and fuel economy.

While OEM parts can result in the same benefit, they’re usually more expensive and aren’t readily available in dealerships. That’s because a single manufacturer provides them, earning them more control over the parts’ availability and price. On the contrary, aftermarket manufacturers are in a highly competitive industry, so they price their goods based on the market’s performance and the economy.

Types of Aftermarket Parts

Not all aftermarket parts result in better performance. To know which parts your fleet can benefit from, check out these types of aftermarket parts:

  • Cosmetic

Despite its name, cosmetic aftermarket parts can also improve function, but they’re indeed more focused on aesthetics. Window tints, paint jobs, sport seats are some examples. They make a car more comfortable to drive. But be careful with cosmetic upgrades. Some of them can land you on the wrong side of the law. In Illinois, for example, cars can’t have side or front window tints unless their driver has a medical condition that requires them. Many other states prohibit heavy tints that make the vehicle’s interior invisible.

  • Structural

Structural aftermarket parts can boost the safety of any vehicle. As such, it’s one of the best aftermarket parts to invest in. Considering that approximately 130,000 people get injured from truck accidents every year, fleet operators would do well to increase the safety of their drivers. It could benefit other road users as well.

An example of a structural aftermarket part is a suspension upgrade. It can optimize your vehicle’s off-roading capabilities. This would be ideal for tour vans exploring mountains or delivery trucks serving rural businesses.

To ensure that structural aftermarket parts in the market are legitimate, check if they are CAPA certified. CAPA stands for Certified Automobile Parts Association, and they set high standards and guidelines for aftermarket parts.

Ensuring Return on Investment from Aftermarket Parts

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The biggest advantage of buying aftermarket car parts is the lower price. This also makes their repairs more affordable. As a result, your fleet’s insurer can save money. If insurance companies pay cheaper claims and find economical ways to repair insured vehicles after an accident, they can minimize their total losses. On the other hand, the fleet operator can pay lower premium costs. If they otherwise used OEM parts, their insurers may increase their overall car insurance rates.

However, fleet operators shouldn’t be blinded by the prospect of lower costs that they’d buy all the cheapest parts. Instead, they should go for parts that will balance out the costs of the total maintenance of the fleet. For example, when the brake pads are due for a change, the fleet operator should choose long-lasting new pads, even if they are priced slightly higher. This will allow the truck to extend its life span, thanks to the longer brake life. The fleet operator can enjoy hundreds of dollars in savings over the truck’s life cycle.

More importantly, fleet operators must stick to reputable manufacturers. Nowadays, manufacturers are so easy to find because of the internet, which also increases the risks of landing on the wrong manufacturer. So before making a transaction, research the manufacturer’s reputation through reading testimonials and reviews.

All these said, aftermarket parts are worth it for a fleet of commercial vehicles if they result in better maintenance, performance, and fuel economy. Fleet operators can gain significant returns from such parts.

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