Anyone who’s used to running a car will know that they can be a constant drain on one’s finances. There are many associated costs with running a vehicle that include servicing, road tax, insurance and not least of all, fuel.
With so many costs involved with being safe and legal on the road it can be tempting to choose cheaper alternatives when it comes to replacing car parts. But is choosing a cheaper part for your car the best solution? We’ll take a look at replacement car parts in this blog and see if aftermarket parts or the manufacturer’s original parts are the best option.
What are Aftermarket and OEM Parts?
Quite simply, aftermarket parts are those that have been made by a different part manufacturer to the original maker of the part as specified by the car manufacturer.
During the design of your make and model of car, the car manufacturer will have sourced parts that were designed to meet high quality standards. These are known as Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts or OEM parts for short.
Aftermarket parts have been made by another manufacturer to replicate the part that was originally specified. They may be suitable for a number of vehicle types and may not be to the exact specification as those laid down by the car manufacturer. The benefit of aftermarket parts is that, usually, they are cheaper than OEM parts and so they can make it cheaper for your repair or servicing work.
How Do I Know If I’m Buying OEM Parts?
If you have your car serviced at a main car dealership, chances are they’ll use the OEM parts as standard.
If you use a local garage that’s not associated to a car make, you’ll need to ask the service manager to use OEM parts for any work that’s carried out.
If you love doing the maintenance work on your vehicle yourself, you should refer to the owner’s manual for part numbers and call the main dealership parts department if you are ordering a part not listed in the manual. If you are using online car parts finders, you’ll usually be offered a choice of aftermarket parts and OEM parts. Be sure to choose the OEM ones.
Why is it So Important to Use OEM Parts?
The original part will have been tested on the vehicle and in laboratory conditions by the car manufacturer or companies such as Intertek and are required to meet stringent quality and safety standards before being approved for use in the vehicle. Aftermarket parts don’t have to meet the same exacting standards as the OEM parts and so they may not last as long when in use on the vehicle.
OEM parts also need to meet safety standards as set by the manufacturer that aftermarket parts don’t. We spoke to the parts manager of genuine VW parts dealers, VW Motor Parts who told us. “For safety’s sake you should choose original parts when servicing your vehicle.
“When you consider the role parts have to the safety of your vehicle on the road, particularly braking and steering parts, it makes sense to choose the parts that have passed the tests of the manufacturer.”
If you are driving a relatively new vehicle, using OEM parts may be a requirement in order to keep your warranty valid. Choosing a slightly cheaper part may save you money in the ‘here and now’ but could prove to be a costly mistake if your vehicle needs to be returned to the main dealer for work under its warranty.
Making Sure You Get the Right Part
Chances are the vehicle you drive in has been available from your manufacturer for a number of years and been revised by the manufacturer during that time. Some models of car have been on the road for over 20 years with many variants during their lifetime.
This can make life difficult when choosing parts, which is again another good reason to call the parts department of your car manufacturer when ordering parts. They will know exactly which part goes with each particular year or variant of your car.
Choosing aftermarket parts isn’t as easy and you may end up with a part for the right car but for the wrong year or model of car.
What About Common Parts Like Oils and Filters?
Engine oil and air filters are amongst the parts that you will change most frequently on your vehicle. It is always worth making sure that you use original parts when doing so, simply because we rely on these parts to ensure the smooth running of our car and to protect major engine components.
The filters and oil used in our cars will have been tested like major components to make sure they protect other major components. Choosing a cheaper alternative that fits our cars, but has not been tested by the manufacturer adds risk that the major engine components aren’t going to be fully protected.
As you can see, we’re very much in favour of choosing OEM parts for use on your vehicle. In many cases the OEM parts are slightly more expensive than aftermarket parts – usually a reflection of their higher quality. We do understand that keeping the car on the road may be a real drain on your family finances but still encourage the use of OEM parts whenever possible.