Helpful Car Repair Tips

Car and Truck Repairs at Bob's Garage

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Brake Repair Information Serving Marion VA area

Posted by Brian Brown on June 12, 2013 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (2)

Are you having Brake Problems? Are you in need of Brake Repair? At Bob's Garage in Sugar Grove we serve the surrounding Marion, VA area with top quality Brake Repair service. We provide brake repair on rotors, drums, calipers, wheel cylinders, master cylinder, ABS systems, brake lines, and more for all cars and trucks. Nothing is more important when it’s time to stop than your car or truck’s braking system. Whether you've got all-wheel disc brakes or an older drum brake system, brakes equal stopping power. If your brakes don’t stop you can easily get into an accident. Whatever your braking needs, Bob's Garage has the right brake parts at the right price. We offer several major brake brands on the market today.

In case your car or truck is having braking system issues please visit Bob's Garage for a brake system check up. We'll check it out and evaluate your breaks then give you a reputable opinion on the braking systems condition. For those who have issues delaying the repairs to your braking system will only cost you more money. It isn't always real easily known if your car or truck requires a braking system repair. In case your brakes squeak just a little, that is normal. Brakes will squeak from time to time because the lubrication that comes with every braking system may not have been administered once the brakes had been installed or sometimes squeaking is caused by rust or debris. However if you regularly hear your breaks squealing more than a couple days I recommend you get it checked out. However, it's not the squeaking you will need to worry about. It’s when your brakes wear down and you hear a grinding sound when using the braking pedal. You also might hear a crunch noise if you have to hit the brakes fast and hard. Squeaking, grinding or crunching sounds are 3 very good symptoms it is time to have your braking system evaluated. Brakes that are excessively worn or damaged may not stop your vehicle in time. Badly worn, warped or overheated brake rotors can damage wheel bearings and the complete wheel hub assembly. These parts often cost as much or more than the brakes themselves. Let alone, worn brakes are just simply very unsafe.

There are essentially 4 major types of brake pads:

1. Semi Metallic,

2. Non-Asbestos Organic

3. Low-Metallic NAO

4. Ceramic

Bob’s Garage will evaluate and recommend the best brakes for your needs and your budget.

At Bob's garage we know how important it is to have good working brakes on your car or truck. The most important thing to remember when it comes to brake problems, as soon as any brake problem is noticed get your brakes checked and/or repaired immediately. Happy driving and please think of Bob’s Garage the next time you hear any of the sounds we discussed.


Summertime Car and Truck Maintenance

Posted by Brian Brown on July 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (10)

Summertime heat can be real tough on cars and trucks as high temperatures can destroy batteries, harm tires and stress cooling systems. Periodically these components should be checked during the summer to help avoid breakdowns.

Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. This excessive heat can shorten the life of a battery. To get the most life out of a battery have the electrical system checked to make sure it is charging at the correct rate. Most batteries are now maintenance free but if not, check it often, especially in hot weather and add distilled water when needed. Keep the top of the battery clean as dirt can become a conductor which drains battery power. If corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, have them cleaned as it becomes an insulator and affect the current flow.

Your tires during the summer weather have added stress on them. For safety and tire life, have your tires inspected. Check for proper air pressure and rotate about every 6,000 miles. Remember the heat will cause the pressure within a tire to rise. So it's important to check the pressure when tires are cold, like in the morning before driving any distance. Your owner's manual includes the recommended air pressure for your vehicle's tires. However some used cars may have different tires, so you can also find the tire pressure listed on the side of the tire. Do not inflate your tires to the pressure listed on the tire itself. That number is the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure for the vehicle. As a rule of thumb, you want to inflate to about 80% of the tire pressure listed on the tire. Remember, your air pressure will vary about 3 to 6psi depending on the heat. Less when tire is cold and more when hot. Having the correct tire pressure is extremely important for getting good gas mileage, proper handling and getting the most life out of your tires.

As I’m sure your well aware, your cooling system works extremely hard during the summer heat. To prevent overheating of the engine, keep the cooling system radiator working effectively by making sure its full with a 50/50 mixture of coolant and distilled water. I'm sure everyone is well aware never try to open a hot radiator, not only will you run the risk of serious burns but it makes it very difficult to fill. As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles to keep the cooling system fresh and clean inside. Make sure the radiator is not just emptied and replaced with fluid but have it flushed. This not only helps your car to run cooler but it also prevents corrosion. A pressure test, thermostat test, a cooling fan test and a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion should also be done annually. Hoses and drive belts should be checked for cracks, bulges or frayed edges. The radiator itself should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris however be very careful not to damage any of the cooling fins.

These few items take very little time and effort to keep your car running efficiently and safely during the hot summer months. I hope these tips were helpful and have a safe and happy summer! If you ever have any questions or concerns please feel free to call Bob Fonda at Bob's Garage in Sugar Grove, VA - (276) 677-4066.

Winter Driving Tips From Bob's Garage

Posted by Brian Brown on October 7, 2011 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (4)

1. If your car needs service now, call Bob's Garage in Sugar Grove, Virginia

Nothing is a big deal in the summer. But when freezing cold outside that's another story. As bad hoses, belts, water pumps can go bad in the winter, it is better to bite the bullet and fix them now. It's better than spending the same amount of money after having been sitting in his car for three hours waiting for AAA. Here's a service element that is often overlooked: the pressure of the tires. Ask Bob to check, or do so as soon as winter comes. Why? Because the tire pressure is reduced by about one pound per ten degrees of temperature. So if it's -10 now, and the last time I checked the tire pressure was in the sweltering heat wave in July, the tires are dangerously low and threat the handling of your car. Many new cars have tire pressure monitor, which alerts you to the dangers of low tire pressure. In fact, since 2008, monitors the tire pressure is required in all new vehicles.

2. Make sure the battery and charging system are in good working order.

Bob Garage should check the system battery and belts. The battery can go simply because it is old. Or you could break down because your charging system is not working properly and the battery will not be charged properly. So have Bob check your battery and charging system. If you find that you need a new battery, get the best battery that will serve your car. Two things to remember about batteries: First, the battery that started your car easily in the summer may not have enough strength to do it in winter. In winter, the engine is harder to start because the oil is not as "fluid" as it was in July. And secondly, batteries lose power due to low temperature. So not only do you need more power to start the engine in winter, you have less battery to start it.

3. have Bob's Garage check the cooling system.

Be sure to check the anti-freeze that protects your car in the winter. For most areas, you should use a 50-50 mixture of coolant to water. You might think: "I want to be very good for my car and give it 100% coolant." Guess what? You are wrong. The 50-50 mixture does freeze faster 100% coolant is less able to transfer heat away from your engine, and has been known to cause nasty things like melted spark plugs and engine failure. So Mix It Up! You can check the freezing rating of the coolant in your car yourself with a small device you can buy at an auto parts store for a few dollars. With it, you suck a little bit of antifreeze from the radiator and see how many balls float. If this exceeds the level then get the antifreeze to the 50-50 recommended mixture.

4. Check your windshield wipers.

Make sure your windshield wipers running clean well, and you can clearly see. Even when there is no active precipitation...water, melting snow and mud can often be thrown up on the windshield. And if you do not see, you can not perform well. Winter wipers - such as ice blades have become very popular. They are excellent in winter, but be sure to remove them in spring. Winter wipers are heavy, and if you use them all summer, you wear the wiper motor prematurely. And when using the wipers in the winter, remember to turn them off before the engine stops. Why? Water freezes at night quite often during the winter. And if the blades freeze to the windshield, when you go to start the car, the wiper motor may burn out trying to get them back in a reclining position.


5. In winter, you want to keep the tank nearly full.

If you are trapped in the winter, the engine will be your only source of heat. And you do not want to worry about conserving fuel and saving the planet at the moment want to keep warm. You can run the engine a long time at idle to keep warm and it will not hurt the engine. Also, if you have an old car, we suggest that you crack open the window a bit, if you will be idling. Vintage cars are more prone to exhaust leaks and corrosion holes. This is not be a problem when driving, because the wind removes the exhaust gases on the fly. Finally, if you are stopped or stranded in the middle of a snowstorm humungous, be sure to go out regularly and remove the snow after the exhaust pipe to keep it clear.

6. Make sure the windshield washer reservoir is full.

On a snowy day it's easy to use a half a gallon or more of washer fluid trying to keep your windshield clean. For this reason it is also a good idea to keep some extra fluid in the trunk in case you run out. And make sure you get the good stuff - stay away from the cheap stuff that is half frozen outside a service station! somne of these liquids freeze well around zero degrees! Even if you buy the right things you may also need to complete your windshield washer fluid with some concentrate. The concentrate is available in pint bottles and works very well at extremely low temperatures.

7. Carrying some sand in the back.

If you have a rear-wheel driving car you can put a sand bag or two in the trunk above the rear axle. This extra weight increases the traction of the rear wheels. What exactly is the rear axle? Draw an imaginary line between the rear wheels. However, you can make things worse by putting too much weight too far back. In essence, by adding too much to the back it can "lift" the front and lose some steering and braking capabilities. We suggest you start with a bag of 20 pounds then drive and see how your car handles and steers. Whatever you do, do not put the sand into the cabin. In an accident, the bags can become projectiles. For front-wheel drive cars do not bother with sandbags. A the engine is already a huge weight over the wheels.

8. Make sure the rear window defroster works.

In many countries, the law requires that all windows are clear before hitting the road.

9. Know the driving performance of your car.

Each car has different driving characteristics. You should know what your car can and can not do in the snow. You should know if your car has part or full-time four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. You should know what kind of tires on the car, and how these things work and how they can help or not help. In fact, not a bad idea to do some riding in an empty parking lot in a snow day so you know what to expect from your car when driving on snowy roads.

10. Carry some items in your trunk in case you get stuck.

Invest in a decent snow brush and scraper. It's good to have a shovel and a bag of sand to aid traction, and extra washer fluid. If you have any winter clothes you no longer use, especially an old pair of boots, throw them in the trunk too.

11. Winter Driving Emergencies are among the few legitimate uses for a mobile phone.

A cell phone is definitely a plus if you get stuck.

12. If you are in an area that allows or requires chains.

And be sure you've practiced putting them on before you need it. Trust us - to use snow chains is much harder when you're knee-deep in slush in the dark and other cars whistling by you.

13. Clean your car, completely!

When snow or ice is out, take the extra time to ensure that your car is clean and your visibility is good. Clean the entire car, not just a little peephole in the windshield. You need just as much if not more visibility in poor conditions because you must keep your eyes open for pedestrians, and every other people on the road. Make sure every glass surface is clear and transparent using a snow brush and / or a scraper. Your side mirrors and all lights to be brushed and cleared as well.


Even with good coolant, snow tires, stability control, four-wheel drive and the other items we discussed....When driving in the snow, please do everything slowly and carefully.

Bob's Garage - Testimonials - Reviews - Sugar Grove | Marion | Smythe County VA

Posted by Brian Brown on May 12, 2011 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

From Bob's Garage in Sugar Grove and to all our customers in Marion VA and surrounding Smyth County we want to thank you for your support.  We have recently received some great testimonials that we'd like to share with you. If you care to offer a review or testimonial please visit our website at or simply visit our Google Places Page.

At Bob's Garage we diagnose and Repair Engines, Brake Service, Oil Changes, Replace Batteries, Air Conditioning Repair, Transmission, Clutch, New & Used Tires and much more!!  We Do It All For All Your Automotive Needs!!

Testimonial  1:

I was very satisfied with Bob's work and there were no suprises when the bill came,as he had told us ahead of time what it would be. We were back on the Rd. to home in Del. in good time.Thank you Bob, and I've asked around and everyone tells me he was very reasonable.

Jay Reese - Satisfied Customer

Testimonial 2:

No kidding. Bob groans when he sees my vehicles come in, especially when they're chained down on the roll back. But he always smiles after the groan, and fixes them the best. I love Bob and his Garage!

Annie Malone - Bob fixes all my junk!

Testimonial 3:

We have used Bob's Garage for many years. They always explained the work to be done very clearly so whenit came time to pay the bill there were no surprises...and WOW what great prices!!

Brian Broan - Happy Customer


Posted by Brian Brown on April 8, 2011 at 1:59 PM Comments comments (1)


 Due to the complexity of today's transmissions a vehicle must first be properly and thoroughly diagnosed. Most shops offer an initial free transmission check which should include a road test, external diagnostic check, and a complete computer scan, in order to determine if the vehicle has an electrical malfunction or mechanical problem. Beware of any transmission repair facility that quotes you a price over the phone without first doing a thorough diagnosis of your vehicle's transmission problem. Today's cars, trucks, and SUVs have computer controlled transmissions and many times a computer malfunction will give the impression that there is a transmission problem. Due to the increasing technology in late model vehicles, the transmission repair facility may need to conduct an electrical diagnosis first to eliminate the possiblity of a computer malfunction versus actual transmission damage.


Be wary of ads that claim “will repair any transmission for …...” or offers to rebuild a tranmission for an unbelievably low price. The tranmission must be properly diagnosed and in some cases a thorough internal diagnosis which includes removing and dissassembling the transmission to find the extent of the damage. Your cost of repair can then be accurately determined. Most shops offer free external inspection and some shops offer to conduct an internal inspection for a reasonable charge.

 You should also become familiar with the term of “rebuilt” as it applies to transmission repair. Even though there are more than 300 parts in the average transmission, a transmission may only have a few internal parts replaced to be called “rebuilt”. In many states if two or three parts are replaced it can be called “rebuilt” or “overhauled”. Ask exactly what is being repaired and what parts are being replaced and if the parts are new, used, or reconditioned. Florida law states that on a rebuilt transmission all parts and labor must be individually itemized or listed on your final estimate. It is also not a bad idea to ask the shop to show you or keep for your examination the worn or damaged parts that were replaced and itemized on your final bill.

Call Bob's Garage at (276) 677-4066 or visit us online at

Serving Sugar Grove VA | Marion VA and Smyth County



Transmission Repair - Secrets to choosing the right transmission shop

Posted by Brian Brown on January 26, 2011 at 2:39 PM Comments comments (3)

These days it is really getting hard to figure out how to choose the right transmission repair shop that will be in your best interest if you have a transmission failure or problem. Most folks are fairly naive about what to look for orlisten to when choosing a place to replace a worn out transmission, this post should be helpful.

If calling some shops is your first move, I would recommend having a list of questions handy and doing a lot of analytical listening to what the person on the phone is saying. A qualified shop owner will listen too and use your information as a guide and use this info to convince you in terms you understand why his shop is the best one to do business with, without even quoting you a price.

It is unethical to quote prices over the phone on transmission problems before it is examined. I think in most cases a shop can sell itself over the phone by being professional, sincere and honest to you. A referral from a friend that had a good experience is the best recommendation of all. In any case, you may narrow your choices down to a few shops. With that in mind it would be a good time to visit the shops and see what they look like and talk more with the person in charge...such as Bob at Bob's Garage.

At Bob's we have no secrets to building customer confidence. We always treat customers just like I want to be treated when I enter a repair facility for any professional service.

We start with a phone call by making a convincing argument why the vehicle needs to come to our shop and be diagnosed first, for free. We have a lead sheet so we could write the customers name down and problem.

#1. We greet our customers by name when possible to show we were listening to them on the phone.

#2. Our shop is clean and organized which simply gives a good impression. It makes it easier to do good work also.

#3. Naturally if the shop is clean and safe it is great to give your customers a tour of the shop equipment, facility and technician/s who will work on your vehicle.

#4. We will give as much time as you the customer needs to understand the suggested transmission repair and why it is the repair that suits their interests the best.

#5. No pressure or obligation if you need to think about it overnight or needto check out another business.

For reasons I can explain another time, an overly busy shop is not always a good sign for choosing a facility.

I recommend checking with the Better Business Bureau and the Division of Automotive Affairs. Most states have a consumer division for reporting fraud, poor repairs, etc. Other good indicators are how long they have been in business. The longer the better in most cases. Don’t discount a newer or young shop just because it is new, if you get the right vibes, than you may have a diamond in the ruff.

I don’t think lots of superficial diplomas all over the walls are imperative, but they are impressive. The important thing is ongoing trainingand education to keep up with the newest technology. The owner should not only be a mechanic, but more importantly a good business man. A technician is not a business man and may not even understandthe paradigm of doing business. The most competent replacement shops will always seek the best suppliers they can find and build good relationships with them.  For instance, is a time proven transmission shop who builds confidence in you from the second they answer the phone.

Don’t forget that if the shop owner listens well, then they can really fit you with exactly what you need. Without seeing the car and talking with you there is no way to determine if you even need a replacement transmission. I have seen cases that were mistaken for being a transmission problem and actually were engine problems.

 Best of luck I hope this was helpful.


Heater Problems?

Posted by Brian Brown on December 15, 2010 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (4)

Automobile Repair: Car Heater Problems-Antifreeze or Blower Motor

Posted by Spencer

Here are some Winter time automobile repair tips for your car heater problems you may be encountering. You can either take it to a auto repair shop that specializes in heating repairs or you can learn how to fix your heater problems by yourself and save money. Your automobile heater problems are caused by either a bad blower motor or you have a coolant and antifreeze problem in your radiator Here are some tips for you to check when your heater is not blowing heat.

The first items to check when your having car problems such as no heat are your antifreeze levels in both your radiator and your over flow tank. If the antifreeze is low then fill both your radiator and your overflow tank to the full line. A low cooling system will affect your cars heater when it is being used. If the levels of antifreeze are extremely low then make sure that you have a auto mechanic perform a coolant pressure test to look for the antifreeze leaks. Most local automobile repair shops will be able to fix your car heater problems such as a low radiator or bad blower motor resistor.

Check the operation of your blower motor inside your vehicle. Most automobile repair shops are equipped with the electrical tools needed to find your car heater problems. Your car may be fine when it comes to giving you heat but your blower motor may not be functioning properly. Make sure that your blower motor works on all three steps such as low, medium, and high. If it does not then you have an electrical problem such as a bad blower motor resistor or possibly even a bad blower motor.(dc motor) Or it can be the heater switch needs to be replaced.

Your car vents are operated by a heater control cable and sometimes vacuum from your cars engine. Check that your vents are switching from the floor position to the defrost mode and in between. If your car vents are not working then you will have to disassemble your dash board and find out why they are not switching over. Some times the automobile repair shop will find a cable has become hung up or has just fallen off of its connector. Once again if this task is to much for you then have your automobile repair shop fix this heater problem for you.

The car heater problem could possibly be a plugged up heater core and needs to be replaced to fix. The heater core is a small assembly located in your dash and it typically looks like a small radiator. You can normally find it by following two heater hoses which attach to it from your motor. Automobile repair shops will charge you an arm and a leg to fix this type of car heater problem. The blower motor would be working fine but your antifreeze would not be able to circulate through out your automobile.

You could possibly have a broken or defective thermostat inside of your cooling system. In this type of automobile repair in order to fix your car heater problem the mechanic will have to install a new thermostat so your antifreeze can heat up. To avoid this problem be sure to replace your thermostat and radiator cap once a year or after servicing your cars cooling system. I hope these automobile repair tips will help you understand how to fix your car heater problems whether it be your antifreeze or your blower motor.

Car Repair:How To Avoid A Costly Car Repair Job With Proper Maintenance

Posted by Brian Brown on November 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM Comments comments (1)

By Anna Woodward

How important is it to heed a car dashboard warning light when it comes on?Is it okay to drive a few blocks away with the light on or do you need to parkit instantly? When do you need to worry and when can you ignore it for a littlewhile longer at least?

The answer will depend on how much money you are prepared to put into yourcar repair bills. Oil, as most of you probably know is the life blood of your car and when your engine is running low or dry on oil it will likely seize up.The question you need to ask yourself when your oil light comes on, is do you feel lucky? If you miscalculate and drive with no oil in your car to lubricate your engine, you will end up with a very costly car repair job. Most likely the engine will have to be rebuilt or replaced if it does in fact seize up. The alternative is to stop driving and check your oil as soon as you can safely do so.

To check your oil, park your car on level ground where you will be out ofthe way of traffic. You should make sure your engine is cold or at least cooland then pull out the oil dipstick and wipe it off. Reinsert the dipstick andpull it out again being careful to not hold it upside down for your reading. Ifyour oil on the dipstick is at the bottom reading or absent you need to addoil. If your reading is in the middle range of the dipstick you are probably okay but if your light is still on, you may have a malfunctioning light that should be looked at.

Once you add a few quarts of oil, or whatever amount the dipstick indicates you need, recheck your dipstick to ensure your oil levels are where they should be.

Ideally you should have a funnel, a rag and a few quarts of oil at the readyin your car so you are prepared to handle maintenance emergencies on the fly. But of course the best way to avoid the problem in the first place is to makesure you check your oil regularly and have your oil and oil filters changed outas your car manufacture recommends.

By staying on top of your car maintenance issues and paying attention todashboard warning lights, you can avoid costly car repair problems down the road.



Choosing a Reliable Mechanic

Posted by Brian Brown on October 28, 2010 at 4:01 PM Comments comments (0)

Choosing a Reliable Mechanic

The person entrusted with the upkeep of our second-most important material possession should be fully-reliable. However, a recent Harris Interactive Poll revealed only 12% of participants fully trusted their mechanics. With not all automotive mechanics being equal, the general trust for this profession has been marred by bad apples who are concerned more with making money than responsibly maintaining your vehicle.

Finding a reliable mechanic provides the sobering knowledge that you are engaged in a wholehearted business relationship. One where you both stand to benefit, rather than just the mechanic. Along with finding a competent and honest mechanic, this procedure should also remind you communications is key with your auto mechanic. As the vehicle owner, don't be afraid to ask any questions you have before surrendering your keys.


Step 1: Find a Mechanic Before You Need One

The best way to avoid the less trustworthy automotive mechanics is to search in anticipation of future vehicle maintenance. Too often, the selection process for a mechanic is hastened when the vehicle requires servicing which leads to a possibly expensive gamble.


Step 2: Get References

Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective advertising methods a car repair shop can employ. Sometimes, talking to a friend or family member can steer you towards a respectable automotive technician. Conversely, word-of-mouth can bring attention to the more notorious service centers in the area, allowing the cautions consumer to avoid such shops.


Step 3: Visit the Shop

Taking an assessment of a business' exterior and interior will provide a reasonable reflection of the business' work ethic. While not expecting the cleanliness of a five-star restaurant, the service areas should be well-lit, organized, and free of large oil puddles, trash, and debris.

It's important also to determine the limitations in services that the auto shop can provide. Some car repair shops are capable of only basic automotive maintenance such as oil changes and tire changes while other faculties are equipped for complex repairs, such as engine replacements and body damage repair. If you own a newer car, a basic service auto shop may be sufficient, since your car may be covered by its warranty.


Step 4: Search for Credentials

Similar to doctors or other highly-skilled professionals, auto mechanics frequently display their qualifications for easy viewing. Among one of the leading markers of a quality mechanic is ASE (American Service Excellence) certification. ASE is a organization that assures mechanics uphold the highest standards for competency. The majority of auto service centers proudly advertises ASE certified mechanics, especially franchises who hire only those qualified mechanics. As well as ASE signs, look for endorsement from local and national auto clubs. Inside the shop, recent awards are another indication for a quality auto mechanic.

While not necessarily regarded as a credential, franchised auto centers can be favorably viewed based on their brand recognition. Along with certifications, mechanics in a franchise's auto center are held accountable for their performance.

Whether an independent or franchised auto service shop, contacting the local branch of the Better Business Bureau will reveal any prior complaints against the establishment.


Step 5: Inquire About Prices

When seeking a general car maintenance mechanic, ask for prices on the services required on your vehicle including the any additional or hidden costs. Vehicle owner should request is the shop's hourly cost for labor. Independent shops generally offer lower labor costs than franchised locations but pricing may relate to the mechanic's skill level. Be warned, mechanics may not be able to provide exact estimates on more advanced repairs. It's becoming a common practice in the auto repair industry to charge for most written estimate. Nonetheless, some shops may offer free checks of certain vehicle equipment such as brakes and the exhaust system.Some shops may also charge a set price based on the repair that needs done.


Step 6: Ask About Shop Warranties

A shop's warranty is not only a welcoming guarantee but can also indirectly give light to the mechanic's dependability. While vehicle replacement parts carry their own warranties, the guarantee on labor is separate. A warranty for labor should be a minimum of 30 days, though 3 months is prevalent with leading shops and mechanics. If you have your work done at a franchised dealership, the warranty holds much more value because you can usually visit any franchised shop to have the warranty serviced.

Aftermarket Versus Manufacturer Car Parts

Posted by Brian Brown on March 25, 2010 at 9:32 AM Comments comments (0)

Aftermarket Versus Manufacturer Car Parts

Is the Extra Cost Worth It?

By Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate


When you take your car to the dealership's service department for repairs, you know you're getting Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) car parts. However, if you take your car to an independent shop, you'll most likely get aftermarket car parts. Is there anything wrong with that? Does a less expensive part mean a poorer-quality part? And in what situations should you use only OEM parts?

To answer these questions, we've created a list of pros and cons to help you make a more informed decision when choosing what parts go into your car. In this way, you can strike a balance between cost and quality.


Aftermarket Parts

An aftermarket part is any part for a vehicle that is not sourced from the car's maker. If the parts are direct replacement parts, they will not void your car's warranty. A number of companies make parts designed to function the same, or in some cases even better than the original. Tom Torbjornsen, host of America's Car Show, estimates that about 80 percent of independent shops use aftermarket parts. "Be an informed consumer," said Torbjornsen."Shop around, make sure you're dealing with a good mechanic and request high-quality aftermarket parts."



  • Less expensive: Aftermarket parts are usually less expensive than OEM parts; how much you save varies by brand. Shop around to find the best price and to get an idea of how much that part usually costs. If the price of a part seems too good to be true, ask questions about its quality.
  • Quality can be equal to or greater than OEM: In some cases, you may end up with a better part than you started with. "The aftermarket companies reverse-engineer the part, and work the weaknesses out," said Torbjornsen. For example, when an automaker designs its brake pads, it has to strike a balance between cost, durability, noise levels and performance. If you want better performance and don't mind some extra brake noise (some brake pads squeak even though they are stopping the car effectively), an aftermarket pad may be your best choice.
  • More variety: There are hundreds of companies that make aftermarket parts. Some specialize in specific parts, and other companies, like NAPA, make almost any part you can think of. More variety means greater selection and a wider range of prices.
  • Better availability: You can walk into any gas station, auto parts store or local mechanic, and they're bound to have a part that fits your car. This gives you more options on where to take your car for service.


  • Quality varies greatly: The saying "you get what you pay for" rings true here. Some aftermarket parts are inferior because of the use of lower-quality materials. Stick with aftermarket brands you're familiar with or are recommended by a mechanic you trust, even if these parts cost a bit more.
  • Overwhelming selection: If you're not familiar with aftermarket brands, the selection could be overwhelming, and there's some chance you may get a bad quality part. Even a part as simple as a spark plug can be made by dozens of different companies and comes in numerous variations. Consult your mechanic for advice or simply stick with the OEM part when the price difference isn't significant.
  • May not have a warranty: To keep costs down, some aftermarket parts are sold without a warranty.

OEM Parts

OEM parts are made by the vehicle's manufacturer. These match the parts that came with your vehicle when it rolled off the assembly line.



  • Easier to choose your part: If you go to the parts counter at a dealership and ask for any part, you'll usually get one type. You don't have to worry about assessing the quality of different brands and prices.
  • Greater assurance of quality: The OEM part should work exactly as the one you are replacing. It is what the vehicle was manufactured with and provides a peace of mind in its familiarity and performance.
  • Comes with a warranty: Most automakers back up their OEM parts with a one-year warranty. And if you get your car repaired at the dealer, they'll usually stand by their labor as well.


  • More expensive: OEM parts will usually cost more than an aftermarket part. When it comes to bodywork, OEM parts tend to cost about 60 percent more, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). There is more of a burden on parts and service to increase a dealership's profit, since the sales departments have been underperforming. But the gap in pricing might be closing, says Torbjornsen. "We've seen a balance in the scales; dealers are now trying to compete with independent shops."
  • Need to be bought at the dealership: Even though there are other ways of buying OEM parts (eBay, online wholesalers), most people will go to a dealership to buy their car parts. This limits the number of places you can buy from. You can request OEM parts from your local mechanic, but it may take longer to get your vehicle repaired since the parts must be ordered.
  • Quality may not be superior: You paid the extra money for an OEM part, hoping that it was vastly better than an aftermarket part. But that may not always be the case. As Torbjornsen mentioned earlier, some aftermarket parts are equal to or in some cases better than OEM parts. So you might be paying extra just for the name.

When Should You Request OEM Parts?

When it comes to collision repairs, make sure you are getting OEM parts, since aftermarket body panels may not fit properly or have proper crumple zones for crash safety.

If you lease your car, there are also economic considerations. Since aftermarket parts decrease a vehicle's book value, using them to repair your vehicle's body may cost you part or all of your security deposit.

But here's the rub: In 11 states and the District of Columbia, an insurance company is not required to tell you what type of parts your car is being repaired with. You'll often find that your insurance company will favor aftermarket parts because they are cheaper. If you request OEM parts, some insurance companies ask you to pay an additional fee. Check with your insurance provider beforehand, to see what parts they will cover.


Which Is the Best Way To Go?

All aftermarket parts are not created equal — but all OEM parts are. This creates its own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you're familiar with a number of brands or work on your own car, aftermarket parts can save you a lot of money. If you're not familiar with aftermarket brands, prefer to have everything done at the dealership and don't mind paying a bit extra for that peace of mind, OEM is a good choice for you.


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