In today's automotive world, consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to car maintenance, performance and parts optimization. Although OEM parts are still available to purists, the popularity of aftermarket auto parts has grown significantly over the past few years, especially with the massive supply from online retailers.
So how do you know which parts are right for you and your car?
Advantages of OEM parts
Advantages of spare parts< p>Secondary Market Considerations
Let's start by defining each of these terms. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are components from the same parts manufacturer that supplied the factory. Until recently, they were only available from authorized dealers. However, some of these brands are now available in other retail sources.
Replacement parts generally refer to components made by competing companies. Some may be well-known brands, some may not. These parts have long been available at traditional auto parts stores, but are now available from many online companies.
Advantages of OEM parts
An EXACT replacement. You are assured that the OEM part will be of the exact same quality as the part you are replacing and will fit perfectly. They are also covered by the vehicle manufacturer. Most car manufacturers have a very good warranty on their spare parts. This warranty is usually honored by any authorized dealer in the country, and if the dealer installed the part, the warranty usually includes labor.
Price. When purchased from a dealer, the OEM part is usually more expensive. There is also availability to consider. If your vehicle is a less popular brand, authorized dealers may be more dispersed. Dealers don't always stock the part you need, and there may be a delay if it needs to be ordered.
Advantages of spare parts
Choice. The aftermarket has responded to customer demand by offering a much wider choice than OEMs. There are well-known aftermarket brands, including "OE equivalents", as well as mainstream and lesser-known brands.
Another advantage is the pricing. In general, the secondary market competes on price. Similar to what is described above for choices and options, there will be different price points. Those looking for the cheapest choice can usually find it on the secondary market.
Bosch premium oil filter. Photo: Bosch Auto Parts.
Secondary Market Considerations
Guarantee. Depending on how long you plan to keep your car, the warranty period may be longer. If you are comparing two spare parts, be sure to compare the warranty periods. Most reputable aftermarket suppliers offer a warranty close to, or even better than, the OEM warranty.
Quality is another important element to consider. Years ago, it was assumed that the quality of aftermarket parts was lower than that of the original parts.
This has changed as the aftermarket has improved to meet consumer demand. In fact, in some cases, large aftermarket companies have manufactured aftermarket parts that improve on known OEM weaknesses.
If your vehicle is under warranty, or if the aftermarket does not. offer the part you need, you have no choice but to get an OEM part from an authorized dealer. At the other extreme: if you own an old car (or a brand that has gone bankrupt) and there is no OEM choice, the aftermarket IS your only source for parts.
We recognize that there are consumers for whom only the OEM part will suffice. However, the aftermarket has improved its offerings across the board. There are OE equivalent brands that have branched out to offer high quality parts for all brands, not just the ones they originally supplied. At the same time, long-time aftermarket suppliers have been striving to bring their quality up to OEM standard or even exceed it.
As a customer, there are important things to consider when choosing between OEM parts and aftermarket parts. .
Richard Reina is a lifelong product trainer and car enthusiast at CARiD.com.