What You Need to Know About Aftermarket Auto Parts

Aftermarket parts are those that are mass-produced and sold for a lower price. It’s often described as the opposite of OEM parts. Aftermarket parts are affordable and easy to access, much so if you need immediate repairs. Still, you have to consider some factors to ensure that you’re getting a high-quality piece.

Aftermarket parts aren’t always dud pieces 

Take note that aftermarket parts are also called competitive replacement parts or non-OEM.

Unlike OEM that’s made specifically for your car model, aftermarket parts could be salvaged from other vehicles, mass-produced as off-brand parts, or recycled from other vehicles. So does it mean that aftermarket parts are no-nos?

Definitely, not. On some occasions, aftermarket parts are better than OEM. But how is this possible?

First of all, premium aftermarket parts can come with a specific warranty. Sometimes, the warranty could surpass what an OEM part can offer.

Also, aftermarket parts are regulated. If you are to purchase aftermarket parts, always look for NSF International or CAPA certifications. These are the two standards that most aftermarket part manufacturers.

Benefits of aftermarket parts

If you’re thinking of using aftermarket parts, you can reap the following benefits.

*Low cost – OEM parts are expensive and may not be an accessible choice for many. Many aftermarket parts are durable even for half the price of OEMs.

*Readily available – the problem with OEM parts is that the auto shop will have to order it first. If you’re in a rush, aftermarket parts are handy.

*Good warranty – if you source the aftermarket parts from a reliable shop, you’ll enjoy better warranty terms than some OEM parts.

Will insurance companies cover aftermarket parts?

Most insurers will demand OEM replacements to grant your claim. This is an added assurance on their end that your car received the best possible repairs. It’s also a guarantee that your vehicle will not require additional repairs anytime soon.

Still, insurance companies vary. Some may cover aftermarket parts as long as it bears specific certifications. You should also expect that claims for aftermarket parts may have a higher deductible or additional cost.

How to know if your car is repaired with aftermarket parts

If you used an OEM replacement, you can check if your vehicle really received authentic parts. Some auto shops will try to rip you off by using aftermarket parts instead of OEM.

The first thing you have to do is to ask the auto shop for the OEM certification of the parts. Usually, each part will have a unique number assigned to it. That way, you will be assured of the authenticity of the replacement.

Also, you should clarify with your insurer if they are going to use OEM or aftermarket parts. That way, you’ll know what to expect.

Final words

Contrary to stereotypes, aftermarket parts can be great choices for your car. Just make sure that you’re getting a high-quality replacement. Also, see to it that you check with your insurance company which one they use for repairs. From there, you can decide if aftermarket parts suit your vehicle or not.

What to Ask Your Mechanic Every Time You Get Your Car Serviced

Once in a while, you’ll need to bring your car to an auto body shop. Some of these visits could be unplanned. And if it’s your first time hiring a mechanic, you have to be informed to avoid being ripped off.  So if you’re going to an auto body shop to get your car repaired, make sure that you ask the following questions.

How much do you charge for diagnostics?

Before the mechanic proceeds to repair your car, they have to run diagnostics first. Usually, this will cost a separate fee. Before this starts, make sure that you ask the mechanic about the cost. This might be an awkward question, given that you’re already in the shop. Still, it pays to ask, so you’ll know how much you’ll be shelling out or filing for a claim.

Can I get a written estimate?

This is very crucial, especially if your car needs expensive repairs. A written estimate should have a breakdown of all the parts and services that will be used or done in your car. By asking a written estimate, you’ll know exactly how much you’ll spend on the repairs. It’s also a good way to avoid being ripped off by shady auto shops.

What parts are you going to use?

Auto shops can use either OEM or aftermarket parts. If your insurance company only uses OEM, you have to ensure that the auto shop will follow suit. Ask about the replacement parts and the certification it bears. In some cases, aftermarket parts are more accessible, though not all insurers will agree on this setup.

What are the certifications that you hold?

You should only deal with a mechanic that has the due license to provide car repairs. An ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification is a standard that most auto shops follow. Also, shops with the Blue Seal of Excellent from ASE are guaranteed to provide reliable service as they have been reviewed by the organization.

What’s wrong with my car?

Once you brought your car to an auto body shop, you should know everything that will happen to it. See to it that you ask about what’s wrong and what repairs will be done. This way, you’re not kept in the dark, plus you can prevent the problem next time.

How long would the repairs take?

Regardless if you use your car often or not, you should always ask the mechanic about the ETA. This is a way of holding them accountable for your car. Some auto shops will delay repairs to accommodate bigger clients. You wouldn’t want to wait in vain, especially if you need your car right away.

Are you going to work with my insurance? 

If the repairs are covered on your insurance policy, you should ask the mechanic if they are going to work with your insurance claim. If not, it’s best to look for another shop that knows how to deal with insurance claims. This way, you wouldn’t have to shoulder the entire cost of the repairs.

What Are Your Rights as an Auto Body Shop Customer?

As a car owner, you’d have to pay several visits to the auto body shop at some point. It could be for new paint, waxing, or repairs. It’s good if you have an auto body shop you can trust. But if you’re a total beginner, you should know your right as a customer. This way, you won’t be ripped off by the technician, and your vehicle will be protected against damages.

Aside from that, knowing your rights as a customer of an auto body shop gives you the chance to choose what you deem best for your vehicle. Here are some of the rights you enjoy as a car owner:

You have the right to select an auto body shop

Always remember that you have the right to choose the auto body shop that you wish to handle your car. This is the same, even if you’re filing a claim for auto body repairs. As much as insurance companies recommend a specific list of auto shops, you can still choose one that you deem competent.

If an insurance company persuades you to choose an auto body shop, don’t believe their efforts to sway you. This is an illegal move, and you can always demand that your chosen auto shop be honored for the claim.

You can choose the parts that you like

Many auto body shops will try to sell you branded auto parts to make additional profits. As much as these parts could have good quality, you can always shop around for your own choice. You have the option to pick between OEM and aftermarket parts, depending on what suits your budget.

Nevertheless, you can always ask a technician about the quality of the parts. Always choose one with a warranty.

You have the right for transparent pricing

Some auto body shops can spot new car owners who don’t have any idea about their rights. They exploit this opportunity to charge excessive fees. So if you are to hire an auto shop, always ask for a quote first, complete with the breakdown of expenses. This way, you can check the transparency of the shop and what they have been charging you for.

It pays to shop around for quotes so you can compare which prices and services are worth your money.

You have the right for efficient repairs

You should always demand efficient repairs from the auto shop you chose. You can do this by checking your car and the accomplished work. If you notice any flaw, don’t hesitate to raise it to the technician. A trustworthy shop will be more than willing to fix this for you.

Always raise any concerns about the repairs even before your car exits the auto shop. That way, you wouldn’t have to pay for another service.

You have the right to ask for guarantees 

Established auto body shops offer guarantees on their repairs. For example, if the repairs got damaged within a specific timeline, they will redo it for free. Some shops will provide a guarantee on the parts.

The Damage Potholes Do to Your Car

Potholes are unsightly and can also cause damage to your car. If you’re consistently exposing your vehicle to this uneven surface, it will cause expensive repairs. It may also damage the car’s undercarriage without you noticing. So before your car bears the brunt potholes, you might as well know the following damages that may occur:

Alignment problems

Due to the consistent pothole impact, your car will sustain steering issues. Also, you may notice an increase in vibrations. This will be unsafe for you and your passengers if not addressed early on.

Aside from that, you may need to replace your tires more frequently as the tread gets worn out unevenly. Also, you may experience more fatigue while driving, especially if you’re going for long distances.

If you notice any signs of alignment issues, it’s best to visit an auto body shop right away.

Tire issues

This is one of the common damages that may occur if your vehicle keeps on encountering potholes. You’ll notice faster and premature tread wear and tear. Also, you may notice uneven tread thinning, which can bend the rim of the tire over time.

Moreover, it will cause the air of tires to leak. So if you’re experiencing recurring flat tires, you may need to check if you’re passing through potholes a lot. Inspecting your car tires regularly will also help reduce the damages.

Suspension damages

The suspension of a vehicle is designed to absorb or reduce the impact of direct force. It’s the component responsible for cushioning the blow whenever you encounter potholes. It allows the car to bounce back without sustaining too much damage.

However, a constant encounter with potholes may cause premature damages to the suspension of your vehicle. Repeated jolts may cause the suspension to become less efficient, thus decreasing its performance.

The effect of potholes on your car’s suspension may not be noticeable right away. However, when it does show signs, the damage has been advanced.

Exhaust pipes damage 

Exhaust pipes are placed on the undercarriage of your car, making it prone to damages during pothole impacts. The pipe can sustain scrapes and even holes over time. This will lead to weird noises and loss of power if the exhaustion system has been damaged heavily.

So if you just had a major pothole impact, take the time to check the undercarriage of your car for potential damages. Having it repaired right away is the key.

Scrapes

Scrapes may look harmless at first, but they can deepen over time. When that happens, your car will experience rusting and a chain of issues.

Usually, scrapes are more of a cosmetic problem, but they can also branch out to expensive repairs. A sharp bump can cause things to fall apart in the undercarriage of your car.

Final words 

Potholes can cause serious damage to your car. If you encounter one, it’s best to conduct a quick check on your vehicle. If you notice damages, it’s best to get it repaired right away. Also, find a way to fix the pothole, especially if you pass through the path every day.

I’ve Totaled My Vehicle But I Still Owe Money. Now What?

Your car getting totaled is both financially and emotionally wrecking. This is much true if you still owe money from your car loan. In this case, the process of filing for an insurance claim becomes more complicated than usual. No one can predict an accident, especially if another driver is at fault. But in any case that your car got totaled in the midst of paying the premiums, here are the things you need to know:

What does it mean to get a car ‘totaled’?

Totaled is a term insurance companies use to refer to vehicles with damages that cost more than its indicate value. Some insurers will declare a vehicle ‘totaled’ or a ‘total loss’ if the repair costs are at least 80% of the car’s value.

When this happens, the insurance company will pay you the declared value of your car instead of shouldering the repair cost. Some insurers will replace your vehicle instead.

What should I do?

If your insurer declares your car totaled and you still have money owed, the first thing you have to do is to compare repair prices. There’s a chance that you can find lower quotes that will save your vehicle from being a total loss.

However, if the other repair quotes don’t turn out in your favor, it’s best to accept that your car has been totaled already.

What happens after that? Well, your insurance company will pay you the amount of the vehicle before the accident. If it’s lower than the value of your car upon purchase, you’d have to shell out the rest.

Aside from the remaining cost, you also have to shoulder a collision deductible. For example, you still owe $30,000 for your car, but it’s only worth $25,000 upon total loss. If your collision deductible is $2,000, your insurance company would only have to pay $23,000. The rest of the money owed will be your out-of-pocket expense.

Take note that your insurance company’s job is to fix your car, not your finances. This is the same reason why you should always ask your insurance company to appraise your vehicle regularly. New auto glass may help retain the purchasing value of your vehicle as well as internal upgrades.

Can I still own the totaled car?

If you decide to go with the repairs, most states will require you to acquire a salvage title for the vehicle. With this, you can’t register for a plate unless all the damages have been fixed, and the car passed rigorous inspections.

Take note that many insurers will not sell a comprehensive policy upon knowing that your vehicle has been totaled, or has a salvage title.

However, if you decided to get rid of the vehicle, you can auction it off or sell it to a junkyard for a reasonable price. This is usually done by your insurer, where they keep the amount and give you a settlement.

We recommend shopping around and perusing your options well. That way, you can find the best choice that will save you from financial ruin.

How to Stay Safe While Driving

Knowing how to stay safe while driving is something every driver must learn. Aside from avoiding harm themselves, drivers are also doing their fellow motorists a big favor. So before you hit the road again, make sure that you have these safety tips in mind. These are basic tips that will make a big difference once you’re on the road.

Buckle up!

The first thing that you have to do upon sitting in your car is putting the seat belt on. It’s a fundamental action that can save your life. Three-way seatbelts prevent you from being ejected out of your car during a collision. Aside from that, it prevents serious injuries that may put your life in danger.

Mind the signs 

Always obey road signs while staying vigilant of other drivers that will try to defy them. One of the most important signs you have to watch out for is the speed limit.

Aside from that, always use turn signals, so other drivers will know where you’re headed. Also, be present-minded as some cars may stop abruptly without any signal.

Put mirrors in the right place

Before you turn the ignition on, check the side, back, and rearview mirrors first. This way, you can see every possible angle. You can also utilize rearview cams to aid you in parking and backing on cramped lots. You’d never want to have a blind spot on situations where your driving skills will be put to the test.

Be a defensive driver

Defensive driving involves pre-empting a possible mistake by another driver or pedestrian. If you are going near a pedestrian crossing, you should always watch out for people who will try to cross even if the light is green. Aside from that, you should be vigilant on sudden turns, over-taking, and abrupt stops. All of these can happen when you least expect it.

Never drink and drive

Drinking and driving never mix. So if you’re planning to hit the road, always stay sober. However, if you happen to get drunk, just hail a cab and give driving a pass. This is much better than risking your life and the safety of other drivers. Take note that drunk driving accounts for about 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. alone.

Avoid phone distractions

Regardless if it’s hands-free or not, using your phone is a distraction. As much as possible, avoid answering calls or texting while you drive. If you have to take a call, just pull over and pick it up. However, if pulling over is impossible, try to keep the conversation short and always keep your eyes on the road.

Kids must be in booster seats!

Children should always be seated in a booster seat. Also, never let kids under 12 years old sit in front. Seat belts alone aren’t enough to secure them during an accident. If you’re driving with a baby, they must be facing the rear until they have outgrown infant booster seats. Aside from that, booster seats should be installed properly.

How Seatbelts Keep You Safe And Why You Need To Wear One

Seatbelts are made for one important purpose: to keep you safe. This should go without saying, but buckling up before you hit the road is a must. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15,000 lives back in 2016. These numbers are enough to explain why seat belts play a major role in driving.

So why should you wear seat belts? Here are some of the ways this simple mechanism saves your life:

Reduces whiplash

Whiplash happens when your head moves forward then backward at an abrupt force. This is a common injury during a rear-end collision. And if you’re not wearing a seat belt, the injuries can be lethal.

However, you shouldn’t wear seat belts for the sake of wearing it. Make sure that the belt is running across your hip and not your stomach. Also, make sure the belt across is snug. Loose seat belts will not do any good, and it will not protect you from sustaining whiplash.

Keeping you from being ejected

During a head-on collision, there’s a high chance that a driver will be ejected through the windshield. This is preventable if you wear a windshield. Even if it’s a short trip to the supermarket, make it a habit to buckle up. You’ll never know when an accident can happen. Even if you’re a responsible driver, other motorists may not practice the same diligence.

So even if you sustain whiplash during a major collision, it’s unlikely that you’ll be ejected from your car. This will directly reduce the rate of crash-related fatality.

Reinforces the strongest body parts

Seat belts use your strongest body parts to prevent injuries during a collision. So even if your body slams into the belt, it will not cause extreme pain. So before you drive, see to it that you’re wearing the seat belt properly. Make sure that it’s resting on the hip bone. If you’re pregnant, never place the seat belt across your tummy.

It’s best to use a three-point seat belt for the best security. This is the type that has two belts that run across your chest and the other that runs along your hips.

Disperses the force

In the event of a collision, the seat belt disperses the force all over your body. This prevents injuries in specific parts. Aside from that, it keeps you safe from bone injuries and internal organ injuries due to impact.

However, seat belts will only be effective in dispersing force if it’s worn correctly. Also, make sure that you buckled it properly.

It decelerates the body

During a collision, your body changes the speed that can lead to injuries. The worst part is that your body experiences a high-speed change, then a sudden stop. This is where whiplash and serious injuries occur.

The seat belt serves as the buffer that will increase the time on which your body slows down from the change in speed. This reduces the risk of injuries that you may sustain in the aftermath of the accident.

Here’s How to Protect Your New Car

So you just bought a new car and planning to make it last longer. But with the harsh conditions of the outdoors, it’s quite daunting to flaunt your new vehicle. Take note that your car will be exposed to rain, sunlight, dust, and other elements. Aside from that, leaving your car parked for hours outdoors will make it susceptible to damage. So how can you protect your new car? Here are some of the hacks you can follow:

Wash it regularly

Washing your car once in a while is ideal for keeping the dust and dirt from accumulating. This is a good way to protect the paint and to maintain the luster of your vehicle. Just make sure that you don’t wash your car during the hot hours of the day. Also, use soap that’s made for vehicles only.

Wax it regularly 

If you want to keep your car shiny and lustrous, make sure that you get it waxed regularly. Waxing every month is a rule of thumb, but you can also consider weekly if you’re driving long distances. As much as you can use sprays, waxes last and hold up longer even under harsh conditions.

Consider using a sealant

Sealants only have to be used once or twice a year. This acts as a protective layer for the car paint to prevent chipping or fading. If you are to apply a sealant on your own, always follow the 4:1 ratio. Dilute one part of the sealant in four parts of a bonding agent.

Always check the tire pressure

Before you go for a long road trip, make sure that you check the pressure of your car tires. This will prevent excessive wear and tear on your new car.

Make sure that you do the same diligence on your spare tire. So when your tires got busted while on the road, you’ll have peace of mind that the replacement is in good condition.

Keep it covered

Don’t let your car bear the brunt of ultraviolet rays and other harsh elements. If you are to leave your car outdoors for long, make sure that you protect it using a proper car cover. This is very much important during winter when snow can freeze the handles and ruin auto glass. As much as possible, look for covered parking to secure your new car.

Don’t slam the door

Many car owners are guilty of slamming the car door. Regardless if you have a new or old car, it’s best to close it with just the right force. Slamming it would only cause unnecessary wear and tear on the auto glass. Take note that such a habit will also compromise your windshield and the alignment of the chassis.

Get dings and dents repaired 

If your new car sustained dings or small dents, it’s best to have it repaired right away. Take note that minor dings can branch out to bigger damages. This will cost more in the long run. Aside from that, putting off repairs will cause rusting, and the damages will become bigger.

 

Exposing the Top Car Maintenance Myths

As a car owner, you probably heard of a myth or two about vehicle maintenance. Some are quite believable, which leads some car owners to do the wrong thing. The trouble is they can cause unnecessary expense and more damage to a vehicle. So if you want to avoid such hiccups, you might as well stay informed. The following are some of the myths we debunked to help you get started:

You should let your car ‘warm up’ during winter

Idling your car to warm up during winter isn’t just a waste of fuel; it will also cause excessive wear and tear on your engine. If you want to heat up your car, drive slowly for a few minutes before going full gear. This way, your engine is working and not just burning fuel on the parking lot.

Also, just because your car is idle doesn’t mean you’re saving on fuel. It’s the other way around with the addition of damage.

You should change the oil every 5,000 kilometers

This myth is quite widespread. Many auto shops will trick you with this myth, so you’ll get an oil change even if you don’t really need it. Also, older engine oils tend to get dirty faster, which is why the 5,000-km mark was a rule of thumb. But in modern days, some cars can travel up to 15,000 km before needing an oil change. The best thing to do here is to refer to your car’s manual.

You need to replace your tires at the same time

This is nothing but a myth. If one of your car tires has lost its treads, it’s the only one you have to replace. The other intact tires would only have to be re-aligned. Take note that uneven tire tread means that your vehicle has poor alignment. Changing all four tires isn’t only unnecessary; it’s also a waste of money.

You only have to change all four tires at once if each one is heavily damaged. Other than that, there’s no need to splurge.

Cracking the window will save fuel while driving

Some people think that if they turn their AC off and open a window, it will help improve their fuel economy. This isn’t true, actually.

Opening the window while driving creates additional wind resistance. With this, your car uses slightly more fuel. If you’re up for comfort, you might as well use the AC instead. Aside from that, your car will contract more dirt if you open the windows.

Washing your car in a hot afternoon will help cool it down 

While it seems harmless to wash your car on a hot afternoon, it’s not actually a good idea. The hot temperature will only make the water evaporate fast. This will leave white streaks on your car that’s difficult to remove. If you are to wash your vehicle, it’s best to do so when it’s cooler. Also, never wash your car under direct sunlight as it will only do more harm than good.

Aside from that, dish soap isn’t ideal for your car. As much as possible, use car soap as this will not damage your paint.

A Schedule to Care For Your Car

Many of us wonder when the best time is for car maintenance. Others just get by without getting their car checked for years. Such a habit may lead to surprise problems, which will also compromise your safety on the road. Take note that keeping your vehicle in good condition is a great way to increase its lifespan and to prevent expensive repairs in the future.

What repairs do my car needs?

It’s quite difficult to know what repairs a vehicle needs until you have it checked by a technician. Although your car may look good, a quick inspection may reveal a different thing.

A survey from the Car Care Council found that about 90% of vehicles require at least one repair or maintenance service. The most common is contaminated washer fluid, which was found on 27% of the cars surveyed. This is followed by the dirty engine oil, worn-out belts, dirty air filters, and low coolant levels.

How often should you get your car checked?

If you’re at a loss of the proper maintenance schedule, the following list will serve as your guide:

At least once a week

At least once a week, check your engine oil level, headlights, dashboard lights, washer fluid, and tire inflation. If you’re going for a long drive, it’s best to check these areas first.

Every 3,000 miles or three months

For this timeframe, you should check the engine oil, cables and battery, belts, transmission fluids, exhaust, engine air filter, and dashboard indicator light. Aside from that, it pays to inspect the power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, lights, and hoses.

Every 6,000 miles or six months/ Every 9,000 miles or nine months

Once the first half of the year lapsed, it’s time to check the indicated parts on the 3-month schedule above. Do the same after another three months.

Every 12,000 miles or 12 months 

Aside from the mentioned parts above, you should check the cabin air filter, brake, chassis lubrication, and coolant after a year. Also, you should get wheel alignment, steering and suspension, and wiper blades checked.

Should I visit an auto shop every time?

The answer is no. Even newbie car owners can perform most of the maintenance needs mentioned above. Always utilize the manual of your car to conduct the right inspection.

If there are major problems like poor brakes, erratic ignition, or weird sounds coming out of your car, it’s best to visit an auto body shop. Take note that there’s only so much you can fix at home, except if you have in-depth knowledge about vehicle troubleshooting.

Always look for a trustworthy mechanic who will give you proper diagnostics of your car. Some auto shops tend to inflate minor problems to milk money from its customers.

Final words

Car maintenance is a crucial process of owning a vehicle. It’s not a one-time task, but an ongoing habit that you have to perform. As much as it takes time, following a maintenance schedule for your car will save you from the hassle. In the long run, you may spend more on repairs if you let minor problems sitting.