- by Kristin Shaw
- July 30th, 2016
OEM vs. Aftermarket blog
When you take your car to a collision repair shop, you may have the option to choose between Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and aftermarket parts. OEM car parts are exact matches for your car and were rolled straight off the manufacturer’s line, and aftermarket parts are made by independent companies, some better than others.
For some cars, buying an aftermarket replacement part may be like buying a shoe that’s a half-size too small or a size too big – it might work, but it’s not going to be as reliable or as comfortable. And to further the comparison, you risk the front end of the shoe ripping open from the pressure or your foot flopping around and getting blisters with too much space.
Aftermarket parts often cost less than OEM parts, and that can be attractive. Consider, however, how much you paid for your luxury vehicle. Do you want to put a Band-Aid over the damaged part, or do you want to set the bone and ensure your investment is as valuable as it can be for years to come?
Some collision repair shops may tell you that there isn’t much difference. In a few cases, that may be true. For others, the difference is staggering. Even a simple replacement part could affect your driving experience as a whole if the fit or quality is inferior. Get solid advice from your trusted Service manager at the dealership where you purchased your vehicle before you decide.
In an article from Edmunds.com, Tom Torbjornsen, host of America's Car Show, estimates that about 80 percent of independent shops use aftermarket parts. "Be an informed consumer," said Torbjornsen."Shop around, make sure you're dealing with a good mechanic [technician]."
Remember that not all aftermarket parts are equal in quality, but OEM parts are, since they are made by the same manufacturer that made your vehicle. If you’re very familiar with aftermarket brands and are comfortable using them on your car for the long term, the parts may or may not save you money in the short run. However, if you prefer that extra peace of mind, go with OEM parts every time. It’s up to you how to strike that balance between price and quality. CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) tests and monitors new aftermarket products to meet standards, however, aftermarket companies do not have to invest in research and development. Thus the price difference.
When it comes to repairing your car after a collision, OEM parts are critical in many cases, because the crumple zones are precisely managed in each car. The last thing you want is to endanger your family with parts that may not stand up to the strict safety standards to which car manufacturers abide. This means the OEM part should work exactly as the one you replaced. The crash rating for your car is based entirely on OEM parts. Millions of dollars are invested in testing these parts, over and over again. With aftermarket parts, that kind of rigorous testing is not required. You can imagine the potential pitfalls if those parts don’t perform as promised. They are a copy, after all, but not an exact copy.
To best preserve your luxury vehicles’ value while maintaining the safety standards established for your vehicle by the manufacturer (such as crumple zones for crash safety), OEM parts are undeniably the appropriate choice. After all, there’s no way to know, reliably, if aftermarket parts will perform as well under the strict standards established by the original manufacturer of your vehicle.