When it comes time to service or repair your vehicle, you have a choice between using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or aftermarket parts. OEM parts are made by the manufacturer of your vehicle, while aftermarket parts are produced by third-party companies. There is an ongoing debate about which option is better, so let’s take an in-depth look at the key differences between OEM and aftermarket auto parts.
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What Are OEM Parts?
OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. These are the parts made directly by the company that built your car, truck or SUV. For example, if you drive a Toyota, then OEM parts come from Toyota itself.
The main benefit of OEM parts is that they are engineered to the exact specifications and tolerances required by the vehicle manufacturer. As a result, you can be certain that OEM components will have the right fit, form and function when installed on your vehicle. OEM parts are also made from high-quality materials approved by the automaker.
In addition, OEM components are rigorously tested by the manufacturer for reliability, safety and longevity. Parts have to meet the car company’s strict quality control standards before being installed on new vehicles coming off the assembly line.
What Are Aftermarket Parts?
Aftermarket parts are manufactured by companies other than your vehicle manufacturer. There are many aftermarket brands that produce replacement auto parts designed to fit specific vehicle makes and models.
For popular vehicles like the Toyota Camry or Ford F-150 pickup, there may be dozens of aftermarket companies offering parts ranging from brakes and shocks to exterior trim pieces and floor mats.
The main advantage of aftermarket parts is lower cost. Because aftermarket brands compete for business, they are often able to manufacture parts at a lower per unit cost than OEM suppliers. These cost savings may then be passed on to consumers in the form of reduced prices for aftermarket auto parts.
Key Differences Between OEM and Aftermarket Parts
When deciding whether to use OEM or aftermarket replacement parts, there are a few key factors to consider:
OEM parts meet the highest standards for fit, finish, durability and performance set by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Aftermarket parts vary widely in quality – some meet or exceed OEM standards, while others may be inferior. Reputable aftermarket brands undergo extensive testing to ensure quality replacement parts.
OEM parts often come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Aftermarket parts usually have a warranty, but coverage may not be as extensive as an OEM warranty. Make sure to research the warranty before purchasing aftermarket components.
OEM parts are engineered to maximize the performance of your vehicle. Aftermarket parts may fit your car and function properly, but could impact performance in subtle ways over time. This is especially true for internal engine components.
Safety-related parts like brakes and suspension components may be held to higher standards by OEMs. Always opt for OEM versions of parts directly related to vehicle and passenger safety when possible.
OEM parts are almost always more expensive than aftermarket equivalents. The price difference can be anywhere from 10-50% for identical parts.
OEM parts can sometimes be difficult to source, especially for older or less common vehicles. Aftermarket parts are more widely available through retailers and auto parts stores.
When to Choose OEM vs. Aftermarket Parts
As a general guideline, here are some recommendations on when to use OEM vs. aftermarket replacement parts:
- For core engine components like pistons, valves, crankshafts, etc., always go with OEM parts. The engine is the heart of your vehicle and aftermarket versions may not meet OEM specs.
- For safety items like seat belts, air bags, brake pads, choose OEM. Aftermarket options could fail prematurely.
- For body panels, lights, trim pieces and minor components, aftermarket parts can provide a less expensive alternative without sacrificing quality or safety.
- When reselling a vehicle, sticking with OEM parts can help maintain resale value. Aftermarket parts may raise questions for potential buyers.
- For older vehicles, aftermarket parts may be the only option if OEM parts are no longer available. Just be cautious of very low quality discount parts.
- For heavily modified vehicles, enthusiasts may actually prefer aftermarket parts designed to boost performance beyond OEM specs.
The experts at SNC Automotive, a leading car workshop in Brendale, always recommend using OEM components whenever possible. Our certified mechanics only install parts that meet or exceed the manufacturer’s specifications – whether OEM or premium aftermarket brands. With over 20 years of experience, SNC Automotive has built a reputation for quality workmanship and integrity when servicing vehicles to keep them performing at their best.
Common Questions About OEM vs Aftermarket Parts
✓Are aftermarket parts as good as OEM?
The quality of aftermarket parts varies. Top brands test parts extensively to match OEM specifications, but cheaper aftermarket parts may be lower quality. For critical components, OEM is the gold standard.
✓Why are OEM parts so expensive?
OEM parts are priced higher because car manufacturers invest heavily in R&D, high-end materials, rigorous testing and high-precision manufacturing processes – costs passed onto consumers.
✓Will aftermarket parts void my warranty?
Installing aftermarket parts does not automatically void a warranty. However, using certain aftermarket parts in place of OEM may open the door for a warranty claim denial if related systems fail down the road. Always clarify with your dealer first.
✓Can you tell the difference between aftermarket and OEM?
In many cases, OEM and quality aftermarket parts are indistinguishable once installed on a vehicle. Lower grade aftermarket parts may exhibit premature wear, mismatched colors, improper fit or reduced lifespan that indicates they are not OEM-equivalent.