Aftermarket vs OEM Parts: Which Is the Right Choice for Your Car?

oem parts

In the U.S., motor vehicle and parts manufacturing is a $700-billion industry.

That makes sense, what with the United States being a country of drivers. Statista’s latest report puts the count of licensed drivers in the country at 222 million.

But if that surprised you, wait ’til you read this. The aftermarket sector accounts for $287 billion of the industry!

That should tell you that today, more and more vehicle owners are turning to non-OEM. Now, that doesn’t automatically mean aftermarket car parts are better than the OEM parts. Nor does that mean OEM always bests aftermarket versions.

So, which one should you invest in for your ride then?

That depends. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, so you need to know these pros and cons.

Keep reading as we’ll cover what you need to know about these components!

What OEM Parts and Aftermarket Parts Have in Common

When you need car part replacements, both OEM and aftermarket parts will work. Say, for instance, you need an engine rebuild. You can use either kind of car part for your project.

That’s right. Contrary to popular belief, both are good options for replacing worn or damaged car parts.

However, you should still take the time to know what sets these two apart. To figure out which one is best for your vehicle, let’s look at the OEM vs aftermarket parts difference.

What Goes into OEM Vehicle Parts

OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. That means the car manufacturer itself made these parts. No third-party involvement at all in the parts’ manufacturing process.

OEM parts meet the specifications of specific car makes and models. After all, they come from the car maker itself. Because of this, they perfectly fit the vehicles the automakers designed them for.

But that’s also the main reason they cost more. Also, buying OEM is much like buying any other “branded” products. You’re also paying for the name stamped on the part.

The Lowdown on Aftermarket Automobile Parts

Aftermarket parts, on the other hand, come from a company other than the car maker. Aftermarket part manufacturers also make these to fit the specs of various automobiles. As such, they can fit different vehicles and not only a specific make and model.

They’re pretty much the same as OEM parts, in terms of likeness, quality, and fit. This doesn’t mean all aftermarket parts can fit your car though. Because their design isn’t for a specific vehicle, they aren’t always a perfect match.

Aftermarket part makers produce an extensive array of these products though. They also produce them in huge quantities, making them much more affordable than the OEM ones. Plus, this wide availability also makes them more accessible to automobile owners.

What Makes for the Best Parts?

To some people, OEM auto parts are better since they’re “branded”. They feel more at ease knowing that the parts they’ll buy come from the car manufacturer itself. This is especially true for owners of “brand-new” vehicles and car enthusiasts.

That doesn’t mean you should always stick to OEM though. It all boils down to personal preference and budget.

Let’s say you’re not that concerned about keeping your ride closest to its factory state. In that case, aftermarket may be the better option.

Another good example is if you simply want to keep your ride safe and great-performing. Then you only need to look for the best aftermarket auto parts, and you’re good to go.

Again, high-quality aftermarket parts perform almost the same as OEM. That, with the much-welcome bonus of being way more affordable.

It’s still up to you, though. If you want your car to be as close to its original state, then by all means, go with OEM parts. But if you only want a safe and great-performing vehicle, aftermarket parts can do the trick.

Replacement Parts and Their Impact on Future Resale Value

One reason many car owners go for OEM car parts is because they think these parts help keep the resale value high. The thing is, an accident-damaged vehicle is a damaged vehicle, period.

If there’s structural damage, then you can expect the car to have lower resale value. The same goes for automobiles with faulty airbag deployment. Even if you repair them with OEM parts, they’ll still sell for a lot less than cars that never had the same damages.

As such, whether you use OEM or aftermarket parts in these cases won’t have that much impact on resale value.

Finding Your Source for Car Parts

Opting for OEM vehicle parts? Then know that you can get them only from brand-specific dealerships. If you’re going to restore your ride, think about the costs that an all-OEM replacement will rack up to.

If you’ve decided to go with aftermarket, then good news, because they’re easier to find! In fact, here’s a good place where you can find more about aftermarket parts.

A friendly reminder though: Make sure you take time to compare suppliers. Granted, aftermarket vehicle parts are often excellent options. However, they’re not all the same, especially in terms of quality.

Another important factor is the warranty. Only reputable aftermarket part makers and suppliers offer this. That’s a sign they’re confident of their products, so they’re willing to back them up.

Hopefully, you won’t need to use the warranty, but it pays to have one on the parts you’ll get. This way, if in the rare situation it does malfunction, you can have it replaced for free.

The bottom line is, pay attention to the history and reputation of your car part supplier. Don’t forget to read reviews and check for possible complaints. This way, you can rest easy knowing you’re safe in that car you drive thousands of miles every year.

Replacement Car Parts Are Only as Good as Their Proper Installation

One last thing: Whether you buy OEM parts or aftermarket ones, you need to install them right! The higher cost (or savings) won’t matter with an incorrect installation. Make sure you always check your car repair manual for instructions.

Our blog also has detailed how-to guides on auto repair, so be sure to check it out!