Aftermarket car parts are any parts of a vehicle that were not produced by the vehicle manufacturer. Aftermarket parts are commonly used to enhance a vehicle’s aesthetic appeal with sound systems, large wheels or hydraulics, among others. Aftermarket parts are also commonly used during vehicle repairs because they are usually more readily available and are often available at a fraction of the cost of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. While consumers may appreciate an enhanced vehicle or a replacement part at a lower expense, should the need arise for a lemon law suit the consumer may have a much more complicated case because of those aftermarket parts.
The California Lemon Law is clear in detailing products covered under the law. The lemon law covers new and used, leased and purchased vehicles acquired within the state of California with an express written warranty. The warranty is provided to the consumer at the time the vehicle is purchased or leased. A lemon law claim is essentially asking a judge or arbitrator to make a manufacturer honor the express written warranty provided at the time the vehicle was acquired. Following this logic, it makes sense that a manufacturer would not provide coverage for aftermarket car parts that were not manufactured by the manufacturer themselves. In addition, the lemon law expressly states that it does not cover aftermarket car parts.
Other concern over the use of aftermarket parts includes the safety and value of the vehicle itself. Critics of aftermarket car parts argue that because manufacturing standards are much less aggressive for aftermarket parts, the overall safety of the vehicle can be called into question. Others argue that studies demonstrate that the value of motor vehicles is significantly diminished with the use of aftermarket car parts. Most importantly for consumers to consider is that using aftermarket car parts may cause a partial or full void of the vehicle’s original express written warranty, the basis of the consumer’s lemon law claim. Although many aftermarket car parts are sold with an individual warranty of their own, some manufacturer’s express written warranties require the use of original equipment manufacturer parts during any repairs or replacements. When taking your vehicle in for repairs or, if you are interested in enhancing your vehicle with sound systems, larger wheels or hydraulics, it is important to read the express written warranty provided by the manufacturer at the time the vehicle was leased or purchased. If the express written warranty requires that original equipment manufacturer parts be used, it would be wise for the consumer to follow that requirement and protect any and all potential future lemon law claims that may arise.