Aftermarket Vehicle Accidents
If you have ever shopped for replacement parts or accessories for your car or truck, you have likely encountered the automotive aftermarket. The automotive aftermarket is the secondary market of the automotive industry. The automotive aftermarket includes the manufacturing, re-manufacturing, distribution, retailing, and installation of all vehicle parts, chemicals, equipment, and accessories after the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sells the automobile to the consumer. An aftermarket auto part is essentially a part that does not come from the vehicle's manufacturer.Safety Issues with Aftermarket Parts
While many of today’s aftermarket parts can be equivalent in quality to OEM parts, some aftermarket parts are cheaply manufactured in substandard plants or factories with inferior materials. Oftentimes, do-it-yourselfers and repair shops may intentionally use these parts to save on costs. However, they may not recognize the inferior quality of these parts. In fact, the quality of aftermarket auto parts can vary greatly and the consumer rarely knows if the specific part they are getting is properly manufactured and safe for use in their vehicle. Defective and/or cheaply made aftermarket parts can cause or contribute to accidents if they fail to function properly.
Vehicle owners also often use aftermarket parts to modify or enhance their vehicles. These “performance” modifications can include custom exhaust systems, cold air intake systems, turbochargers, hydraulics, and much more. While performance upgrades may be fun, non-standard modifications can create safety issues for the drivers as well as other motorists with whom they share the road. Some of the specific safety concerns with aftermarket parts include:
- Aftermarket parts may not be built to the same safety standards as OEM parts.
- Aftermarket parts are generally not subject to the same quality control and testing as OEM parts and products.
- Aftermarket parts manufacturers and distributors may not be required to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
- Aftermarket parts manufacturers may use weaker or less durable materials, such as molded plastic.
- Non-standard modifications can disrupt the function of OEM parts, such as airbags.
Vehicle owners and auto shops performing aftermarket modifications should never sacrifice safety for style or to save on costs. When they do, they may be held responsible for injuries and damages caused by their disregard for safety standards.Use of Aftermarket Parts Required by Insurance Companies
Most insurance companies encourage the use of aftermarket parts for auto repairs. This saves them money, as aftermarket parts are often half the price of OEM parts. In Georgia, insurance companies can even require the use of aftermarket parts, unless you agree to pay the difference between the cost of the aftermarket part and the OEM part. If an insurance company requires the use of an aftermarket part that is found to be defective, it could be held liable for any resulting injuries and damages.Contact Us if You’ve Been Injured in an Aftermarket Vehicle Accident
Injuries caused by aftermarket vehicle components likely could have been avoided if proper safety standards had been followed. Contact the legal team at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC and we will work to help you hold liable parties responsible for your injuries. Call (404) 460-0101.