You may have heard the term OEM in relation to cars or auto parts. In this article, we will give you an overview of the concept so that it will never confuse you again. The first thing you need to know is that OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. As you will see, the name is self-explanatory.
All auto parts fall into one of two categories: OEM or aftermarket. OEM parts are original parts that are identical to those used at car factories. These parts are made by the same company that made your car, and that is a very good thing indeed. Aftermarket parts, on the other hand, are made by a variety of different companies and may contain features that the manufacturer never intended.
Why Would You Buy OEM Parts?
There are quite a few reasons to choose OEM parts over their aftermarket equivalents. First of all, we should start with the biggest reason. The use of aftermarket parts will often void your car’s warranty! You should check your warranty to be sure, but most vehicle warranties will become void if you use anything other than OEM parts.
From the company’s perspective, this makes a lot of sense. They are willing to guarantee their work, but they are not willing to guarantee anyone else’s work. Some warranties will not be voided by the use of aftermarket parts, but even these will surely specify that aftermarket parts are not covered by the warranty.
Some people also choose OEM parts to maintain their car’s value. This is an especially large concern when it comes to antique cars, show cars, and other vehicles that need to be kept in pristine condition. As soon as you start putting aftermarket parts on a collectible car, you will surely be reducing its value and appeal.
There is also a practical reason to choose OEM parts. When you stick with original parts, you can be sure that no compatibility issues will arise. Aftermarket parts are often made for a specific make and model, but there is some variation within different models. For instance, let’s say you own a Honda Accord (random example). There are five different variations on the Accord, and some aftermarket manufacturers may not take this into account.
When you buy an OEM part, you are also likely to get a more durable part. These parts are subjected to a lot more quality control, partly because the company knows they will be covered by the warranty. Thus, the company stands to lose a lot of money if they ship a bunch of defective parts. An aftermarket company, on the other hand, has less reason to care about quality.
Why Would You Buy Aftermarket Parts?
In many ways, aftermarket parts are inferior. They don’t tend to be as durable, they aren’t covered under standard vehicle warranties, and they can sometimes suffer from compatibility issues. That being said, aftermarket parts do offer one big advantage: They are cheap. In many cases, you can get an aftermarket part for half the price of its OEM equivalent. For those who are short on money, these parts might be the only option.
Aftermarket parts will also offer a greater variety than OEM parts. If you really want to customize your vehicle in a unique way, aftermarket parts will be a necessity. For instance, let’s say you want to put 1950’s-style tailfins on a newer Cadillac. While you can certainly do this, you aren’t going to get OEM tailfins for that kind of car. You’ll have to look for aftermarket parts or have them custom-made.
You might also choose aftermarket parts if your vehicle has a generous warranty. While no company will cover the work of another company, you might at least avoid voiding the warranty. This is why you should always read your warranty agreements carefully. If you can get a good enough deal, you can save a lot of money by using aftermarket replacements for less-important parts.
Aftermarket parts are also more readily available than OEM parts. While OEM parts must normally be ordered from a licensed dealer (or the auto company itself), aftermarket parts are cheap and plentiful within every auto parts store in the nation. Shipping delays can make OEM parts an inconvenient choice, especially when the part is coming from overseas.
Here are a couple of the more common questions that we receive on this subject.
Are OEM parts always better than aftermarket parts?
Usually, but not always. It would be more accurate to say that an aftermarket part is a roll of the dice. You might get something that is better than the original in some way, or you might get a piece of overpriced junk. It’s kind of a gamble, but you can lessen this gamble by checking plenty of product reviews.
Are OEM parts always made by car manufacturers?
Usually, but not always. While it is best to get your OEM parts straight from the auto company, they will often outsource their parts production to other companies. Still, they will have been made to the same standards as the original part.
As you have probably noticed, this whole thing is very simple. Just remember that the O stands for original, and you should have no trouble at all. Overall, OEM parts are superior to aftermarket parts, but their higher cost might be out of reach for some. In the end, it’s a question of cost versus quality.
When your vehicle is down, you can’t afford to waste time. Thus, you should go with the cost-efficient option. Still, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to switch that cheap aftermarket part with an OEM equivalent somewhere down the line. If you have enjoyed this article and found it to be helpful, we ask that you fill out the contact form below so that we can bring you more of the same.