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Car parts: OEM vs aftermarket vs genuine

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August 16th 2022 info

Whether through an accident or general wear and tear, it’s likely you’ll need spare parts for your car at some point in its lifetime. It’s equally as likely that you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of car parts.

After all, on average, cars have around 12,000 individual components. Understanding the different types of replacements can help you make an informed decision while sticking to your budget.

You might think that all car parts are created equal, but that’s not actually the case. There are three kinds of car parts available on the market, namely OEM, aftermarket and genuine. Each kind has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to see the full picture before making a purchase.

Here, we’ll break down each type of car part and give a few tips on how to choose the right one for your vehicle.

Differences between car parts - aftermarket vs OEM vs original

What is an OEM part?

OEM stands for ‘Original Equipment Manufacturer’, meaning that these parts are officially produced by the vehicle maker. As they’re backed by the car manufacturer, they are specifically designed as replacement parts for the vehicle at hand, offering the perfect fit.

Unlike genuine parts, they aren’t designed to be installed at point of manufacturing, only suitable for use when replacements and repairs are needed.

If you go to the car dealership’s service department for a repair, you can expect to receive OEM parts direct from the source. They can also be requested from local mechanics, however, they’re likely to need to be ordered on demand, delaying the repair in the process.

Benefits of OEM parts

With an OEM part, you get a greater assurance of quality. As they are the genuine article and offer a like-for-like replacement to your original part, you’ll have peace of mind over the performance you can expect.

Similarly, an OEM part is easier to choose as there’s usually a standardised part for each need. You won’t have to concern yourself with assessing quality and suitability as you would when looking at parts offered by different brands. OEM parts also typically come with a one-year warranty, offering added protection.

For collision repairs, you should opt for OEM parts. As they’re specifically designed for the car, parts from third parties such as aftermarket panels run the risk of not having proper crumple zones and not fitting properly.

Cost of OEM parts

OEM parts are typically more expensive than their aftermarket counterparts. Depending on the part, they cost around 60% more on average than those sourced from third party manufacturers due to the authenticity and standard of manufacturing. They’re usually slightly less expensive than genuine parts, offering manufacturer quality for a smaller outlay.

What is an aftermarket part?

An aftermarket part is sourced from third-party sellers as opposed to the original manufacturer. Also referred to as generic or non-OEM parts, they are designed to mimic the performance of official parts, making them suitable low-cost replacement options when carrying out repairs.

Other than cost, the biggest difference between aftermarket and OEM parts is choice. For each vehicle model, you generally come across a wide range of aftermarket parts from a variety of manufacturers, whereas OEM parts are specifically made by one. It can pay to shop around, however, it’s important to do your homework to ensure your aftermarket parts are high quality and fit for purpose.

Benefits of aftermarket parts

The main benefit of an aftermarket part is lower cost. Cost can vary somewhat between brand, although you can always expect some savings in comparison with OEM. Lower cost doesn’t always equal lower quality, either. In some instances, quality can be equal, or even greater, than the official part, as aftermarket manufacturers reverse-engineer the design, smoothing out weaknesses along the way.

Availability and variety of aftermarket part options is also far more convenient. Most reputable mechanics can offer aftermarket parts on the day of repair rather than having to order in an OEM part. This widens the scope of where you can take the car to be repaired.

Likewise, there’re hundreds of aftermarket part companies making a wide range of parts suitable for various models. While this can be somewhat overwhelming, the greater selection allows you to compare price ranges and brands.

Cost of aftermarket parts

As mentioned, aftermarket parts offer significant savings when compared with both OEM and genuine parts. Much like purchasing a generic version of a branded household product, these parts intend to serve a similar function but aren’t an exact match. This drives the price down, making them more accessible. It’s also important to note that aftermarket parts may not come with a warranty.

Please be aware that aftermarket parts are under threat of being banned in the UK from 2023 due to incoming EU legislation, with industry leaders warning of a potential £100 increase on the average cost of repairs. With the government under pressure to veto the proposal, it remains to be seen what the future of this cheaper option will be.

What is a genuine part?

Genuine parts, also referred to as OE or original equipment, are similar in principle to OEM as they’re also made by the original car manufacturer. The primary differences between the two are that they were originally supposed to be installed on new cars and carry the branding, logo and packaging of the manufacturer. As such, you receive an authentic part which was built with the intention of being initially installed into the vehicle.

Benefits of genuine parts

The main benefits of genuine car parts are authenticity, quality and safety. While they come at a premium, a manufacturer-produced part is certain to keep the vehicle in pristine condition. Much like OEM parts, they also benefit from fitting perfectly in the vehicle.

Cost of genuine parts

Genuine parts are usually the costliest of the three options. However, the increased quality has the potential to lower total costs in the long run, as they’re guaranteed to maintain the performance levels of the original parts. When assessing whether genuine parts are right for your needs, it’s worth comparing against similar aftermarket parts to see whether the extra cost is worth it in terms of quality and length of use.

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If you’re looking for reliable used cars from reputable dealers, you can find the latest models at findandfundmycar.com. For more maintenance advice and to learn more about the automotive world, our expert articles have got you covered.  

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