When consumers take their car to a garage for repairs, they likely assume that the mechanic is using the safest parts available when performing those repairs. However, that may not be the case, as an investigation by a local news station in Maine recently discovered during an investigation of car repairs performed in that state.
According to an investigation completed by a local news affiliate in the state of Maine, the safety of cheaper, generic parts used by some mechanic in car repairs is questionable and, more alarmingly, these cheaper, generic parts are often used in repairing vehicles without the vehicle’s owner’s ever being made aware of the use of the generic part. In many cases, the vehicle’s owner drives away in their Ford car assuming that a genuine Ford part was used to repair their vehicle when a cheaper, generic part was used. However, the investigation found that in many, if not most, instances, the vehicle owners were not being notified when the generic parts were being used in lieu of a more expensive, safer product. Indeed, under Maine law, there is no requirement that consumers be notified if a generic part was used in fixing their vehicle instead of a manufacturer approved part.
Although the insurance industry defended the practice of utilizing generic car parts in car repairs, claiming that the use of generic parts is just as safe a brand name or manufacturer made part, and also keeps down auto insurance premiums paid by consumers, the investigation revealed that several of the generic parts were actually more dangerous and more likely to cause harm to the vehicle owner or any of his or her passengers than a genuine, manufacturer made part. Indeed, a study carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance industry funded group, found when testing aftermarket bumpers that two of the three generic versions did not perform as well as the original equipment manager, or OEM, bumper.
In Maine, it is perfectly legal for mechanics to use non-OEM or generic parts when performing car repairs, but this is not the case in most states. In most states, however, mechanics are required to disclose when they are using non-OEM party prior to the actual work taking place.
In Illinois, the vehicle owner has the right to know that non-OEM parts will be used in the repair, and see a listing of those parts on an estimate, prior to the repair work taking place. All other parts must also be designated on the estimate as new, used, rebuilt or reconditioned. The name or logo of the manufacturer of all non-OEM parts must be affixed to or inscribed on the part, and be visible after installation whenever practicable. All insurer-specified non-OEM parts must be at least equal to OEM parts in terms of fit, quality and performance.
Insurers specifying the use of non-OEM parts must also consider the cost of any modifications which may be needed to make the repair. The vehicle owner must be given notice that any warranties that apply to the non-OEM parts will be provided by the manufacturer or distributor of the parts and not the manufacturer of the vehicle.
At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we have successfully represented vehicle owners whose insurers insisted that their policyholders utilize non-OEM parts that were less safe than an OEM part when the vehicle owner was subsequently injured due to the use of a non-OEM part in the repair. We believe consumers have a right to know what parts will be used to repair their vehicles and encourage consumers to always carefully check the repair estimates that Illinois law requires a mechanic to present a vehicle owner prior to commencing repairs of any kind on a car to determine whether the mechanic proposes to use non-OEM parts in the repairs to your vehicle. Your safety is never worth sacrificing just to save the insurance company a couple dollars on the repair bill simply by using a non-OEM part.
At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we are experienced personal injury attorneys who have also successfully represented clients for product liability cases in which our clients were injured because substandard, non-OEM car parts were used in repairing their vehicles and subsequently led to them becoming injured in a collision due to the substandard part. If you have been involved in a car accident that was caused by a generic, less safe part that was placed in your car by a mechanic who repaired some damage to your car in the past, please call us today for a free consultation with one of our accident and personal injury lawyers at (312) 236-2900.