OEM means Original Equipment Manufacturer. When you shop for car parts and see the OEM label on them, it means the original manufacturer of the compatible make and model vehicle had made those parts. For instance, if you purchase OEM parts that are compatible with a particular Ford vehicle model, it means Ford made those parts.
Aftermarket car parts mean just the opposite. Instead of the original car manufacturer making the aftermarket parts, a third-party company is the one that makes them. The benefit of aftermarket car parts is they can be used with multiple makes and models. The downside is the parts might not fit perfectly because they weren’t designed for any particular make or model.
5 Main Differences
Let’s explore the big differences between OEM and aftermarket car parts.
1) Compatibility and Performance
If you were to purchase Ford OEM parts for your Ford vehicle or Nissan OEM parts for your Nissan vehicle, you would get the most out of those parts. Since they’re manufactured specifically for your vehicle, you won’t have any compatibility or fitting issues. All the parts will fit perfectly because they’re no different than the factory parts that came with the vehicle originally.
Since aftermarket car parts don’t fit perfectly, they won’t give you the same quality performance as OEM parts. But if you’re driving an older vehicle and cannot find any OEM parts available for it, you’ll have no choice but to choose aftermarket parts. So basically, choose OEM parts if they’re available. Otherwise, go with the aftermarket parts.
The number one reason people choose aftermarket car parts is their price. Car manufacturers tend to charge a lot more money for their OEM parts because they’re specifically designed for particular line of vehicles. Aftermarket parts are more generic and mass produced, so they tend to be cheaper.
If you’re someone on a budget, then aftermarket parts are probably better for your situation. Just remember these parts are not going to last as long as OEM parts would, so you’ll be replacing them sooner.
If your vehicle is under warranty by the original manufacturer, you might be entitled to free OEM replacement parts. It all depends on what agreement you made when you purchased the vehicle from the dealer.
If you purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle, for instance, then you’ll be entitled to receive certain OEM parts that have to do with the functionality of the vehicle. Be very careful with your warranties because they can become voided if you put aftermarket parts in your vehicle instead of OEM parts. That is why you should always visit your dealership to request part replacements if needed.
4) Variety and Selection
One of the most appealing things about aftermarket parts is their variety. You’ll see plenty of customized and enhanced aftermarket car parts that you would never find from the manufacturer. Anyone who likes to essentially rebuild or upgrade their vehicle in a more personalized way might want to experiment with custom aftermarket parts.
Not all auto parts stores carry OEM parts. They are usually sold directly by the car manufacturer. On the other hand, you can find aftermarket car parts sold at virtually every auto parts store in the country. It is good news if you don’t mind aftermarket car parts, but bad news if you prefer OEM parts.
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When an auto mechanic replaces parts in your vehicle, they will usually give you aftermarket parts without your consent. They are cheaper, of course, but they never tell you whether they’re OEM or aftermarket. So, if that is something you care about, make sure you specify to them which one you prefer to have.