OEM Parts Battle in Auto Body Repair

Have you read my series on my first auto accident? There are three stories about the entire experience, but what I’ve not talked about is the battle for OEM parts over aftermarket parts. OEM parts mean original equipment from the manufacturer, brand new parts off the line.

I knew, from working with the awesome sauce team at Alan’s Collision Center, that my two-month old Toyota Highlander needed OEM parts installed during repairs after my collision (for which I was not at fault, but the pizza delivery guy was).

The Battle for OEM Parts

I began harping on OEM parts to anyone who would listen. I interacted with Allstate Insurance, with Cincinnati Insurance, with Voss Collision many, many times, and others. I knew I needed OEM parts on my new car!

Once the repairs were done, and I got my car back in one piece, it seemed fine to me. Then, I showed the estimate for the repairs to Jim Pfau, general manager at Alan’s Collision Center in NE Philly.

Jim is not happy with me. He asked to see my estimate for collision repairs. So, I sent him something. Turns out, it was the invoice, not the estimate. Then, I found the estimate and sent it to him. Nope, that was not the correct estimate; it was not the ‘estimate of record’ for which the prices are locked and changes couldn’t be made to the original work. OEM parts were on my request because my vehicle only had about 3,000 miles on it.

Guess what?

Jim Pfau reviewed my ‘unlocked’ estimate that was not the final estimate of record and he found a reconditioned wheel put on my 2015 Toyota Highlander that was two-months old.

Unhappy Auto Body Repair Customer

I am utterly and totally (they probably mean the same thing) dismayed. As a consumer who was in an auto collision for the first time, I had no concept of the steps I’ve had to take to manage this experience. Not to mention, when I asked for OEM parts to be put on my new car, I expected that to happen.

Turns out, after the fact, it didn’t. The wheel was reconditioned, and I still really don’t know what that means. What I do know is that I own the vehicle, I am responsible for returning this leased vehicle in the same condition as when I signed the paperwork, and now a part put on the vehicle is an aftermarket part.

I feel like the collision center and the insurance company ignored me. I had my car towed to the auto body repair service, put in my request for OEM parts and told the world, and then waited to get my car back in pristine condition. Then, I find out that my request was not heeded.

What does this all mean? Because I write for Alan’s Collision Center and do a variety of other things like the website, IT security and emails, local advertising, and public relations, I’m aware of these issues with auto body repair.

What I’m not aware of are my rights as a consumer who has experienced an accident and who has an automobile in need of collision repair and who has specifically requested OEM parts.

Turns out, I did not even exist in this equation. Once I had my car towed and the insurance companies got involved with the auto body repair company, I was invisible. The customer service rep from the collision center did call me every day (which was a tad annoying, but I guess they believe that’s customer service because I had to complete a paper survey and mail it somewhere), but she had no further clue how my car was being repaired than I did!

So, I need to leave you hanging because I’m on the edge of a cliff, too. The battle over OEM parts versus aftermarket parts truly has NOTHING to do with the consumer unless of course you have the ability to dog the collision repair center every single day and demand that original parts be put on your brand new 2015 Toyota Highlander.