OEM vs. Aftermarket Parts: Which is Better?

Fixing Your Car: OEM or Aftermarket Parts?

When shopping for auto parts, you often have to choose between OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts and aftermarket options. Both have pros and cons, depending on your needs, and terms like “Factory original” or “Genuine” can cause confusion and make it more challenging to decide which parts you need. Discover the differences between OEM and aftermarket parts, what each offers, and how to decide which is best for your vehicle.

What Are OEM Parts?

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are specifically designed to match the exact specifications and functionality of components a particular automaker uses. For instance, an OEM air filter for a Porsche 993 is designed to be the same as the air filters initially installed in the car when it was first manufactured.

Some parts comparable to OEM might be labeled as “Genuine” or “Factory original.” Although these parts are essentially the same as OEM parts in function and design, a Genuine part is made by the original vehicle manufacturer and usually features its branding. For example, a Genuine McLaren part is produced by McLaren specifically for McLaren vehicles, offering consumers complete assurance about its compatibility.

The primary difference between OEM and Genuine parts lies in the branding. OEM parts might be labeled by various suppliers and not feature the automaker’s branding or logos, depending on the distribution channels. Whether you opt for an OEM or a Genuine part, you are guaranteed a product that functions like a factory original, offering precise compatibility and delivering the performance you expect.

Pros and Cons of OEM Parts

When you need new parts for your vehicle, choosing Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts provides several advantages and assurances, such as:

  • Quality assurance. OEM parts are made to match the specifications, performance, and quality of the factory originals they replace. Choosing OEM ensures you receive a high-quality product that performs exactly as expected.
  • Compatibility and fit. An OEM part is designed to replace a factory-original equivalent one-to-one, using the same materials and sizes. This ensures that the part you purchase for your vehicle is 100% compatible.
  • Preserves your warranty. If your car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, OEM parts ordered and installed by an approved collision center will not void it. It also ensures that trained and manufacturer-certified technicians handle the parts replacement process for added peace of mind.

While there are numerous benefits to choosing OEM parts, there are also some drawbacks to consider before purchasing:

  • Cost. OEM parts are generally more expensive than aftermarket equivalents, especially if you opt for a Genuine or factory-original model.
  • More limited selection. While OEM parts offer guaranteed quality, fewer choices are available, especially if you’re looking for parts that enhance your vehicle’s performance.

What Are Aftermarket Parts?

Aftermarket auto parts are made by third-party manufacturers and may not always perfectly match the performance of the factory originals they replace. While many aftermarket parts function well, they are available in a broader range of types and tailored for specific needs, using materials of varying quality.

Pros and Cons of Aftermarket Parts

Many drivers choose aftermarket parts, and there are several good reasons to consider them instead of factory originals or OEM counterparts, including:

  • More cost-effective. Third-party manufacturers often produce parts at a lower cost than OEM or branded genuine equivalents. This makes them a cost-effective option for replacing faulty or worn-out car parts.
  • Performance options. Aftermarket solutions are ideal if you need parts to improve your vehicle’s power and performance or simply want a different look and feel. Many third-party parts makers specialize in offering high-performance parts or enhanced capabilities, from air intakes and exhausts to tires, suspensions, brakes, or engine parts.
  • Discontinued model support. If the original automaker discontinued your vehicle model, buying aftermarket parts might be the only way to continue maintaining and driving it. Many parts makers specialize in producing recent-manufactured parts for older or obsolete models.

If you’re considering aftermarket parts, it’s important to be aware of potential downsides. Here are some drawbacks you should keep in mind:

  • Wide variation in quality. While the quality of the best aftermarket parts can match or exceed OEM, lower-quality components can degrade your car’s performance. Always research the reputation of the aftermarket manufacturer to ensure you’re buying a high-quality product.
  • Compatibility issues. When purchasing aftermarket parts, there’s no certainty that the part will fit your vehicle as intended. While some may fit seamlessly, others might not, and this often depends on the reliability of the parts manufacturer.
  • Warranty issues. Installing aftermarket parts on a vehicle can void the warranty. If your car is still covered, consider requesting the services of an approved collision center before shopping for third-party parts.

Schedule Professional Parts Installation Today

Whether you need new parts after a collision or want to upgrade your vehicle’s capabilities, you’ll need the services of qualified auto body technicians. Harry’s Auto Collision has been a trusted name in South California for over 50 years, proudly serving the Los Angeles and Thousand Oaks areas. Our team can recommend OEM or high-quality aftermarket parts depending on your needs and we also provide installation and replacement services. Book an appointment with us today.


What is the difference between OEM and aftermarket?

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are auto parts designed to match the specifications and performance of a car maker’s factory original. OEM parts can be made by the automaker or one of their suppliers. Aftermarket auto parts are built by third-party manufacturers that are not related to the automaker.

Why are OEM parts more expensive than aftermarket parts?

OEM parts are typically sold at a higher price point than their aftermarket equivalents because they are built to the original automaker’s tolerances and quality assurance standards. For example, when you buy a Mercedes-Benz OEM part, you will receive a product that has passed Mercedes-Benz quality control. An aftermarket part doesn’t come with this assurance. While it means they are cheaper, they offer fewer guarantees of quality or compatibility with your car.

Are aftermarket parts better than OEM parts?

It depends on your needs. OEM parts are reliable and offer predictable, factory-like performance. They can be the better choice if you need to restore your vehicle to its original specifications after a collision, especially if it’s still under warranty. However, aftermarket parts can be a more suitable solution if you’re looking for cost-effective replacements, customize your car’s looks, or improve its performance.

How do I know if an OEM or aftermarket part is high quality?

OEM parts are designed as direct replacements for original parts produced by a given manufacturer and offer the same level of quality. If the factory-original part is reliable, the OEM replacement will also be. The quality of an aftermarket part depends on its manufacturer’s quality assurance. If you intend to buy an aftermarket part for your vehicle, research the part maker’s reputation and look for product reviews and professional assessments before making your decision.

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