Auto owners: beware of new auto parts monopoly

Free-market advocates save some ounce of customer choice

Here’s something we all know as Michigan drivers.

We have some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country.

Now they might be even higher due to new mandates on how our vehicles are required to be repaired.

HB_4344_-_major_component_parts_list.pngOur state legislature recently passed (for your “safety”) legislation that would require the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or equivalently certified OEM parts on 15 major component parts for the period of the original manufacturer warranty up to five years, whichever is less.

Is this new mandate really about safety? 

No.

Consider the fact that OEM parts have numerous recalls per year and that many of those recalls are due to serious safety concerns. Customers would be right to meet the “safety” reasoning with skepticism.

This legislation is really about money. It establishes a clear preference for the more expensive OEM parts, and creates the perception that aftermarket parts are inferior.

The legislation also pushes a costly certification process for aftermarket parts that wish to be considered under this bill. Interestingly, the bill does not require that the OEM parts go through similar certifications. Another problem with certification is that national automotive parts testing agencies do not certify all of the major components listed in the bill so a more expensive OEM part would be required.

Thanks to free-market advocates throughout the state, the state House added language that would allow customers to at least opt-out of the mandate in writing. A small victory in a terrible bill.

Unfortunately, auto repair shops are not required to inform their customers of the choice and most customers will never know they have an option. With the financial incentive for repair shops to use the more expensive OEM parts, customers will certainly be getting the short end of the stick.

Our economy should not require a customer to opt-out of a monopoly. Cronyism stifles competition and increases costs for customers.

Governor Snyder should veto this legislation and stand up for customer choice in the aftermarket auto repair business. 

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