Frugal twist on car repair: Buy auto parts for your mechanic. Four tips from a pro.

3. Buy aftermarket parts

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    Fox Valley Technical College Vehicle Refinishing and Repair majors, Ross Blazer, left, and Eric Van Rooy, right, work on a Toyota Prius as part of their training in hybrid car repair on campus in Appleton, Wis., on Monday, March 13, 2011. Often, it can be cheaper and just as effective to buy aftermarket parts for your car repair.
    Ann Hermes / Staff / File
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Instead of purchasing an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) part, save money by buying a high quality aftermarket part. In many cases, aftermarket parts are made by the same manufacturer that made the parts for the automaker, and the quality can sometimes be higher than the OEM part. This is because aftermarket component manufacturers have the benefit of seeing how the OEM part has performed. Not only have they become very sophisticated in analyzing this and in making improvements in product life and/or performance characteristics – they usually sell at a much lower price than the OEM part. Extended warranties are generally readily available for these parts, an important criterion when taking the part to your mechanic to install. Avoid parts with no warranty, and make sure that you purchase a name brand part from a trusted source. Buying a low quality part could end up costing you double the labor cost if the part fails and has to be replaced.

Also avoid aftermarket parts that do not meet or exceed OEM requirements. There may be hundreds of aftermarket parts available for your needs, and they can vary drastically in quality.

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