Whether you take your vehicle in to get serviced or handle most repairs yourself, you still have a choice to make when it comes to what kind of parts you buy for your vehicle. Most dealership service departments, for example, will use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. Many local mechanics will use what are called “aftermarket” parts. So what’s the difference between these two types of vehicle parts?
Aftermarket parts are generally defined as being parts purchased from any manufacturer that is not the vehicle’s original maker. Many different brands of cars use many of the same parts, which allows some parts to be functionally universal. A lot of aftermarket parts are produced by third party companies who manufacture generic, one-size-fits-all parts to suit a range of different cars. One benefit of this is that aftermarket parts are often cheaper and are more widely available for purchase.
However, because anybody can make aftermarket parts, it’s important to keep in mind that the quality varies greatly. It’s easy to get a shoddy product that will fall apart in a fraction of the time it took the original part to get damaged. Plus, since the part was made to suit a wide variety of cars and brands, it may not be a perfect fit for your vehicle.
OEM parts may be slightly more costly in some situations, but when comparing many quality aftermarket parts with the OEM part equivalent, the price is roughly the same—plus OEM parts come with a warranty. When choosing your part from the original manufacturer, you know you are getting the same exact part that your car originally came with, assuring the best possible fit for you vehicle.