What Is the Difference between OEM Parts and Aftermarket Parts?

OEM parts

If your car is in an accident, one of the decisions you may be asked to make when you take it in for repair is whether you want to use OEM parts or aftermarket parts as replacements for what was damaged. If you don’t know what OEM or aftermarket parts are, we will explain that here so that you can make an informed decision about your repair. 

What Are OEM Parts?

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer car parts. OEM parts are the ones that the manufacturer used to build your car when it was originally assembled. Car manufacturers make replacement parts for everything that goes into every car that they make, and these are the parts that car dealers use when they repair vehicles or replace old parts. If you take your car into the dealer to get it fixed, you can be sure you will be getting OEM parts. 

What Are Aftermarket Parts?

Aftermarket parts are parts that are not sourced from the original manufacturer. There are hundreds of independent car part manufacturers. Some of them make only specific parts, whereas a company like NAPA will make an enormous range of parts so that if a customer comes in with any part request they can satisfy it. You can find aftermarket car parts for sale in a variety of places. If you take your car into an auto repair shop or body shop for repair, you will probably be getting aftermarket parts unless you specify that you want OEM parts. 

Aftermarket parts are often less expensive than OEM parts because there is plenty of competition in the market. That does not mean they are poorer quality, although some of them are. Repair experts will know which parts can be counted to perform and last and which will not. Sometimes the parts will be even better quality than OEM parts because they’ve been improved upon or they perform according to a different standard than the one originally specified by the car manufacturer. 

So which is better? That depends. Not all parts are created equally. Because OEM parts are exact replacements, they will operate in exactly the same way as the originals for better or for worse. Unlike aftermarket parts, they are crash tested. They typically will have a one-year warranty. If you do not know much about aftermarket parts or do not have confidence in your auto shop, choosing OEM parts can give you peace of mind about your repair.

On the other hand, OEM parts are usually more expensive, so that will translate to a more expensive repair. They also have to be acquired through the manufacturer which means the repair will probably take longer to do. If you trust your auto or body shop knows what it is doing and will guarantee their work, there are only a few situations that you probably should choose OEM parts over aftermarket parts for your repair. 

The first situation is if your car has been in a collision. Aftermarket body panels may not fit properly or behave the way that OEM parts would in the event of another crash, so OEM parts are preferred. 

The second situation is if your car is leased. OEM parts help to maintain the overall value of the vehicle. If you replace damaged parts with aftermarket parts, you may lose your security deposit when you turn the car in because its book value may be lower. 

Insurance companies will often favor the body shop using aftermarket parts because it will cost less money to fix. If your car insurance policy does not specify using OEM parts for a repair, you may wind up paying a fee if you insist on using OEM parts instead of aftermarket ones. If you don’t know what your insurance will cover, check with your provider before your have the repair done.

It is your choice whether to use OEM or aftermarket parts for your repair. Clearly, there are pros and cons for both. Talk it over with your auto repair or body shop when you need your next repair. They should be happy to tell you how they select the parts for the repair work they do and how they communicate with insurance companies to get the work done for you. If they won’t take the time to do this, choose another shop. 


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