OEM vs. Aftermarket Car Parts: What’s the Difference?

Unfortunately, nobody’s car in invincible, no matter how carefully you drive it, and we all need some form of repairs every now and then.

But when the time does come to have your car looked at, do you usually take it back to the dealership, or to an independent garage?

Chances are you might try your hand with an independent garage, as they can often be cheaper, but are you getting the same service?

Independent garages often use aftermarket car parts as opposed to Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, and a lot of people are unsure as to the difference.

Aftermarket Parts

Aftermarket car parts are ones which have not been made or sourced by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

The quality and purpose of aftermarket parts can vary, sometimes they’re meant to be an exact replica of the original part, and other times they act and perform differently.

Most people think that aftermarket parts will automatically void your vehicle’s warranty, although it isn’t necessarily that straightforward.

You can read more about what will void your warranty in this piece from Autotrader.

The main reason people opt for aftermarket parts is that they usually work out cheaper.

While this is the case, it’s worth doing a bit of research. If the price of your aftermarket parts seems extraordinarily cheap, then it may be too good to be true, and you’ll usually get what you pay for, as many aftermarket parts are made using lesser quality materials to keep the cost down.

While it would be unfair to say that all aftermarket parts perform poorly, it is fair to say that their quality varies quite a lot, and it can be very difficult to know what sort of quality you’ll be getting.

There are hundreds of different companies producing aftermarket pieces, so while this means a much greater element of choice than with OEM parts, it can all be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

OEM Parts

These parts are only made by your vehicles official manufacturer, and as such they will be exactly the same as the pieces that came fitted with your vehicle when it was bought.

Of course, this means it’s a lot easier to choose a part, as it will just be a like for like replacement part.

While this does mean you have less choice, you don’t have to worry about shopping around to find the best quality and value, as you’ll be getting a guaranteed quality part.

The main downside to OEM parts is the cost, as they cost around 60% more than aftermarket parts. You also have to buy OEM parts at the dealership which can potentially make them a bit harder to get hold of.

So which are best?

While the answer does depend on exactly what part you’re buying, by and large we would always recommend going with OEM parts.

It simply isn’t worth the risk that you take with aftermarket parts, and we believe that it’s worth paying a little bit extra for the peace of mind that comes with having a part that you know has been made and guaranteed by the manufacturer.

It’s best to only go for aftermarket parts if you know what you’re doing, and are familiar with the different brands that produce them.

We spoke to Cox Motor Parts, a leading dealer of genuine Honda parts who outlined to us: “We always recommend that people use OEM parts, but if they do choose to use aftermarket, it’s important that people shop around and make sure that they’re getting high quality parts.

“The trade-off between quality and price can be an expensive one to get wrong!”

It’s also worth noting that insurance companies will often favour using aftermarket parts as they’re cheaper, so it’s always worth checking with them, and maybe requesting that they use OEM parts.