Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association

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Design for Remanufacturing™

APRA strongly supports a nation-wide policy - DESIGN FOR REMANUFACTURING™ - to increase public awareness of the necessity and the benefits of the design and manufacture of automotive parts that can be safely and efficiently remanufactured. Some important facts about remanufacturing and the environmental benefits are discussed below.
 

What is Remanufacturing?

A properly "rebuilt" automotive part is the functional equivalent of a new part and is virtually indistinguishable from a new part. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) required that such parts be labeled as "rebuilt" so they they are not mistakenly accepted as new.

For all practical purposes, remanufacturing automotive parts is very much like assembling new parts except that many of the components are taken from used parts, especially the housing. In remanufacturing, the part must be completely disassembled, cleaned and examined for wear and breakage. Worn out, missing or non-functioning components are replaced with new or rebuilt components. Electrical parts frequently need rewinding or rewiring. After all work is done, the part is reassembled and tested for compliance with performance specifications.

Rebuilt parts are readily available through auto parts stores. For most makes and models these stores keep a supply of rebuilt parts in stock so there will be no delay in servicing the vehicles of owners who use them. In fact, it is interesting that an examination of the inventory of almost any automotive supply store will reveal that a majority of parts in stock are rebuilt. The parts stores and warehouses, of course, always offer a choice of new or rebuilt parts. However, a rebuilt part normally costs 50% to 75% of the cost of a comparable new one and customarily carries the same warranty. As a result, the use of rebuilt products in the  market has increased steadily for those items that are rebuildable, rebuilt parts enjoy a major share of the market.

Rebuilt parts are also available for heavy duty equipment such as bus and truck fleets, farming equipment and construction equipment. In these markets, rebuilt parts are often the quickest and most satisfactory solution to getting a vehicle back in operation. In addition, for many heavy duty applications and for many older automobiles, rebuilt parts are essential to proper maintenance because new parts many be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.

Is there a difference between "rebuilt" and "remanufactured"?
Within the automotive industry itself there is considerable debate about the differences between the terms "rebuilt" and "remanufactured." Some feel that while there may be no difference, "remanufactured" is a more appropriate term because it portrays the sophistication to which the industry has grown. Others prefer the term "rebuilt" because it more accurately describes the process of restoration of a used part. The bottom line is, the terms can be used interchangeably and mean the same thing.

Remanufacturers come in all sizes. There are many small, custom rebuilders who perform on-vehicle work and operate with a half dozen employees. There are also large rebuilders with more than one plant working on a production-line basis. They employee hundreds of people and restore thousands of parts to their former condition. Regardless of size or if they are called rebuilders or remanufcturers the final result is essentially the same: a quality job results in a quality product.

The environmental edge
Remanufacturers have been "recycling" for more than 80 years. It all began during World War II when the tremendous need to reuse automotive and truck parts gave birth to the industry. Natural resources where scare during wartime, and many of the resources we did have were going to the war effort to build planes, ships, tanks, etc. Rebuilding used parts met the demand for quality replacements.

The remanufacturing industry helps the environment in a number of different ways:

Scientific studies highlight remanufacturing's benefits
Studies have been performed which conclude that:

Studies by the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuggart, Germany, demonstrated that:

The future of remanufacturing
As people grow more and more concerned about the environment, we must seek public policies that will encourage even more remanufacturing. There are enough social and environmental benefits to justify remanufacturing. Imagine the added benefits to society if EVERYTHING we buy could be remanufctured, from small appliances to lawn mowers. Also imagine if products were originally manufactured with the sole purpose of being rebuilt and not thrown away...


What's in a Name?

Original Equipment: This term refers to those parts usually marketed through new automobile dealers. They are normally marked with a name or logo associated with the vehicle manufacturer. However, not all original equipment parts are manufactured by vehicle manufacturers. Many are made for the vehicle manufacturers by independent companies who often sell the same part under their own label.

Although usually new, these parts can be rebuilt or remanufactured. Therefore, the term refers more to the origin of the part rather than its condition. The vehicle manufacturers normally promote "original equipment" heavily, implying that such parts, because they are exact duplicates of the ones which came with your car, will work best and give longer service.

Customarily, new "original equipment" parts carry the highest price tag and rebuilt or remanufactured "original equipment" parts cost more than similar parts which are not original equipment. Your buying decision should be influenced by whether the price of an "original equipment" part represents the best buy or whether another part which would prove just as satisfactory can be purchased for less.

New replacement parts and rebuilt parts are in most instances, equal in quality to "original equipment" parts. Other grades of parts may cost considerably less but are usually not of equal quality and may not provide satisfactory performance.

New Equipment: The term "new" describes exactly what it means -- a part which has never been installed or used. However, it is not necessarily "original equipment."  Not all new parts are made by the vehicle manufacturer. Many new replacement parts of good quality are available from independent manufacturers and are interchangeable with original equipment parts. In fact, many new replacement parts are identical to original equipment parts because the same manufacturer makes them for the vehicle manufacturers. The only difference is that the vehicle manufacturer markets the part under its logo while the independent cannot do so.

To ensure compatibility, the manufacturers of these parts furnish appropriate information with them to indicate the vehicle and model on which they will function properly. The cost of these parts is generally equivalent to original equipment parts of similar quality.

Recycled Parts: This classification is probably the least understood and the most abused in the current marketplace. Outside the automotive industry, the term "recycled" implies that the item has been restored to its original condition or is a new product manufactured from used materials. Thus, aluminum cans, glass bottles and newspapers are all "recycled" into new products. This is NOT the case with recycled automotive and truck parts.

The term is generally used by auto salvage and scrap yards to describe a part which has been removed from a scrap vehicle and resold with little or no work performed on it. As so used, it really refers to a "used" part. While originally associated with body parts such as doors. fenders, windshields, etc., it is now also being applied to moving parts such as engines, transmissions, starters and water pumps.

Some recycled parts are superficially cleaned, boxed and sold in stores. But no mater what claims the seller may make about the part, the fact is it is still an unreparied, used part whose continued serviceability is uncertain. It is not "recycled" as the term is commonly understood.

Due to their relatively low price, recycled parts are an attractive purchase, and it is certainly one way to make your vehicle operational again. However, such parts should be purchased with the understanding that they have not been restored in any substantial way to assure their future reliability.

Repaired Parts: This is an imprecise term. Essentially it means that the part has had enough work done to it to make it operational again, but it has not been "rebuilt." Because it has not been fully disassembled or tested, the cause of the problem with the part may not have been fully corrected.

Restored/Reconditioned: These terms are used more often when referring to parts for antique or classic vehicles rather than for parts for general automotive use. They are generic terms implying that the part has been restored or reconditioned to or close to its original condition.

Bench Rebuilding: A bench built part, sometimes described as "custom rebuilt" or "bench rebuilt," actually describes more the way restoration of the part occurred than its condition. The part is restored to the quality of a rebuilt or remanufactured part. The only difference is that the part was restored individually rather than on an assembly line basis and that testing may not have been done. In other cases, however, the part may only be repaired or not sully restored. Therefore, care must be taken when purchasing a part so labeled.

Modified Parts: These parts have been physically changed to perform or function differently from a similar new or rebuilt part. Typically, these parts are used by those car enthusiasts seeking an increased level of performance or styling from their automobile. However, the term can refer to any part which has been changed and would apply to parts illegally altered to avoid governmental safety or environmental regulations.

Used Parts: This is a part that has been subjected to previous use on a vehicle and is not new. Nothing has been done to repair it or correct any problems it may have. Therefore, its useful life and degree of serviceability are unknown. As a result, its cost is generally less than parts of proven quality, such as new and rebuilt parts.

YOUR DECISION: In the final analysis, the automobile owner must make the final decision on what kind of part is desired. With owners keeping their vehicles longer and longer and with sales prices on new cars skyrocketing, this decision should reflect the reliability and cost effectiveness of the part over the long run. Market studies show that rebuilt/remanufactured auto parts are capturing a greater share of the total number of aftermarket parts sold. Thus, buyers seem to be making their decision on what offers the "best buy" and still receiving a quality product.