Have you ever wondered what OEM car parts were and whether it’s worth it to spend more money on them than you would for aftermarket car parts? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both aftermarket parts and OEM parts.

OEM Parts 

OEM is an abbreviation for Original Equipment Manufacturer parts. That means that these car parts have been made directly by the car manufacturer.That doesn’t mean that Chevy or Ford made the car part. What it really means is that the engineers who designed that car selected the OEM part in your car. They intend for this particular part to be used throughout the vehicle’s lifetime. 

An original equipment manufacturer makes the components that are marketed by the client they’re being made for. Car companies may sell vehicles, but they may not manufacture everything that goes into them. That’s what OEM does on their behalf. 

Pros

  • You can rest assured knowing that you have quality parts in your vehicle. The replacement OEM part should work exactly like the original part. You will know that the replacement part will work just as the original did when you first bought the vehicle.
  • OEM parts come with a warranty. Most auto-makers back up their OEM parts with a one-year warranty. That means that if anything happens to that part within the life-span of that warranty, you know that you can get it replaced. 
  • You won’t have to deal with the hassle of choosing which part is best. If you go to the counter at the dealership and ask for any part, you’ll usually get one option. This decreases the amount of time spent of assessing different brands and worrying about whether or not your choice will be best. 
  • You will have an assured perfect fit. When you purchase an OEM part, you can guarantee the part will fit. Many aftermarket parts are manufactured to fit a variety of models of vehicles which can sometimes result in an imperfect fit.  OEM parts, on the other hand are made specifically for your car. 

Cons

  • OEM parts are a little costly. OEM parts usually cost about 60% more than aftermarket parts. This is because the OEM is the manufacturer who designed the part from start to finish, plus the usage of high quality tools and technology plays a role in cost as well. Oftentimes, aftermarket parts may look and function almost exactly the same, making the additional cost not worth it, unless solely for peace of mind.
  • Sometimes you don’t get the BEST quality you can with OEM parts. Even though you spent the extra money on the OEM part, hoping it will work better than an aftermarket part, that may not always be the case. You could possibly just be paying extra for the name. OEM parts are unique because they are car parts specifically designed for your vehicle alone. But there are parts out there that also work just as well as an OEM part, if not better. 
  • Even though you can sometimes buy an OEM part online, more than likely you’ll have to go all the way to the dealership to get a part. Buying OEM limits the amount of places you can go to purchase the part you need. It’s also an inconvenience if you purchased your car from somewhere that’s quite a distance from where you live. 

Aftermarket Parts

An aftermarket car part is any part for a vehicle that is not sourced from the car’s manufacturer. A number of companies make parts designed to function the same, or in some cases even better than the original. 

Pros

  • Aftermarket parts tend to cost less than an OEM part. How much you save on an aftermarket part will vary by brand but can oftentimes be significant. If you go the aftermarket route, we recommend that you do your research and go with quality brands. Poor quality aftermarket parts will likely result in extra trips to the auto parts store and more in maintenance.
  • The quality of the aftermarket part can be equal to or be better than an OEM part. In some cases you may end up with a better part than what you started with. Aftermarket manufacturers typically reverse-engineer a part and work the weaknesses out of it. They also run the product for quality more than an OEM parts producer would. 
  • There is a wider variety of aftermarket parts. There are hundreds of companies that make aftermarket parts. Some specialize in specific parts and others make any part you can think of. More variety means greater selection and a wider range of prices. 
  • You will have the convenience of going to your local auto parts store to get the aftermarket part. Unlike OEM parts, you can find aftermarket parts at any auto parts store. You won’t have to be confined to just one place and can even shop online if you prefer.
  • You can make your car stand out. If you buy OEM, your car will look like everyone else’s. There are many aftermarket accessories like wheels, tires, hitches and lift kits to customize your vehicle to look however you want.

Cons

  • With the wider variety parts to choose from, it may become overwhelming. With there being such a wide variety of products, it’s tough to decide which parts are best for your car. There’s also the risk of choosing a part that is actually bad for your car. Be sure to speak with a trusted and knowledgeable mechanic or an Accessory Specialist about which part or accessory  is best for your car and if you should stick with an OEM part.
  • The quality of aftermarket car parts vary greatly. The saying “You get what you pay for” is the truth here. Some aftermarket parts are inferior because of the usage of lower-quality materials. Stick with aftermarket brands you’re familiar with or are recommended, even if these parts cost a bit more. You want to ensure you’re investing in parts that will benefit your car. 
  • Aftermarket parts may not come with a warranty. To keep costs down, some aftermarket parts are sold without a warranty. If something happens to the part, you may end up having to just buy another because you have no coverage for it. Always ask about warranty information before purchase.

If you just asked the question, “Does this mean an aftermarket part is going to be detrimental to my car?” The answer is that it depends on the vehicle part in question. Just like different brands of laptops have varying levels of functionality for usage, the same applies for car parts. As your vehicle ages, there’s going to be unique wear due to your individual driving habits. These abrasions are also dependant on road conditions and daily driving. These factors can determine what part would be the best choice for your vehicle and your lifestyle, so if you stick to “OEM only,” you could be robbing yourself of improved performance.

It is always smart to do your own research to have an idea of what’s best for your vehicle, for your own knowledge and to keep you from getting swayed with inaccurate information. 

When buying auto parts, keep in mind that the term OEM does not make the part better, only “the same as.” Many aftermarket parts are just as good and in many cases better than the original part. There are few very low quality manufacturers of parts. 

We would advise you to research which kinds of parts are better for your car, be it aftermarket or OEM parts. It depends on your budget and what will work best for your vehicle. Look out for manufacturers who are just selling a name and not quality!