Getting your car fixed or upgraded can be a costly affair, so one question that might come up is if you want to go for OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or aftermarket parts. The differences can lie in the price and quality but also in the availability and options, so there is more to it than might meet the eye. If you have done some research on the topic, then you likely will have wondered if aftermarket parts are good.
In this blog, we will have a close look at the difference between OEM and aftermarket parts and which is the better choice for you.
What is the Difference Between OEM and Aftermarket Parts?
To look at the differences between OEM and aftermarket parts, let's have a look at what each of them is in the first place.
OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, which means that it is the same manufacturer that made the original parts in a car. So, when you need to make a repair to your car, the parts manufactured by it are guaranteed to fit in your car. How to tell if parts are OEM? OEM parts are branded with the automaker’s name and/or logo. They also come in the automaker’s packaging.
These parts are made by other manufacturers, so they don't qualify as OEM parts. They can be used in place of OEM parts, but there is a certain potential they might not be fully compatible with your car.
Pros and cons of OEM parts
You might wonder what’s the difference of OEM parts vs genuine parts. Genuine parts are the parts that come with your vehicle when you buy it from the dealership, while OEM parts are the replacement parts manufactured by the same company.
Because OEM parts are manufactured by the same company that made the original part, they are produced after the same specifications and are fully compatible with your car.
As they are manufactured the same way as genuine parts, OEM parts generally tend to have a longer lifespan than aftermarket parts.
Generally, OEM parts come with a warranty for the part. The specific warranty can differ by manufacturer.
In general, OEM parts come at a higher cost; depending on the part, this can be significant. Sometimes this does not mean higher quality than aftermarket parts, so in some instances, it can be extra money just for the name.
Higher demand and the limitation of only one manufacturer can lead to limited availability and longer wait times as they often have to be ordered and are not in stock.
Quality might not be superior
The quality is not necessarily better than aftermarket parts; in some cases, it can be worse. Some OEM parts are actually rebranded aftermarket parts, which makes them no different from third-party manufacturer's.
Pros and cons of aftermarket parts
Hundreds of companies manufacture aftermarket parts. Some will specialize in certain parts or brands, while others, such as NAPA, make the whole range of parts. This leads to a far greater selection to choose from and with that also a wider range of prices.
As there are more options available, aftermarket parts generally are cheaper. The range will vary by part and brand, so it is best to check different manufacturers to get a good idea of the average price. Like with many things, if a part is too cheap to be true, it could be a sign that the manufacturer is willing to cut corners in terms of quality to offer the lowest price.
The quality can be equal to or greater than OEM parts
You might get better quality with aftermarket parts. Aftermarket manufacturers reverse-engineer parts, so they are able to work out weaknesses, which can lead to a higher quality part than you might get from an OEM.
As you are not bound to one manufacturer, whose parts you often only can get via a dealership, aftermarket parts generally offer far greater availability. So you have more options where to take your car for service and also far lower wait times if any.
As car manufacturers don't have oversight over the production and quality of aftermarket parts, there is no guarantee that the part will work well or fit your car. Do some research into which manufacturers have positive reviews concerning the quality of their products, or go with recommendations of a mechanic you trust. Sometimes a few dollars extra can make a big difference in terms of quality.
In order to keep costs down, some aftermarket parts are sold with limited or without warranty.
While a large selection has its clear advantages, it can be very overwhelming to someone not familiar with aftermarket brands. It is best to consult your mechanic and do some research online to get a better idea of the market.
Which Is Right for You? (OEM vs Aftermarket)
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as there are several factors to consider to decide if OEM parts or aftermarket parts are right for you. The decision can be influenced by your budget, your trust in the quality of aftermarket parts, the urgency of the repair, the warranty offered on the part and more. It is recommended to consult your mechanic of choice to get a better idea of which part is better for the repair or upgrade in question.
As you can see, there are some distinct differences between OEM and aftermarket parts, both with their pros and cons. It also shows that the negative image of aftermarket parts is largely not warranted.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better, OEM or aftermarket?
There's no right or wrong answer because there are several factors to consider, such as your budget, your trust in the quality of aftermarket parts, the urgency of the repair, the warranty offered on the part and more. It is recommended to consult your mechanic of choice to get a better idea of which part is better for the repair or upgrade in question.
Why is OEM more expensive than aftermarket?
OEM parts are more expensive because they're designed specifically for your make and model. So to make a profit, the manufacturer has to charge more as the part is only designed for one particular kind of car.
Are OEM parts as good as the original?
OEM parts are manufactured by the same company that had made the genuine parts, so the quality should be the same.
Is OEM good quality?
Generally, OEM parts are manufacturer quality, meaning that the quality should match the genuine parts in or on your car.