OE, OEM, AFTERMARKET – WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?

auto parts

Do a Google search for ‘OEM vs Aftermarket’ and you will get thousands of returns, all voicing different opinions and providing often confusing interpretations of what these terms mean.

There is obviously a great deal of confusion with regard to this subject . We are here to set the record straight and hopefully give you a little more confidence when buying replacement auto parts.

When buying new parts for your car, you basically have three options (not two, three). You can buy Original Equipment (OE), Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, or you can buy aftermarket parts.

OE (Original Equipment) Parts

Original equipment parts are an exact replacement. They are identical to the original part and typically bear the auto maker’s logo and branding. These are the parts you get when you go to the dealership and ask for original equipment.

Of the three choices available to you Original Equipment parts are by far the most expensive and are generally high-quality parts.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Parts

An OEM parts come from the same manufacturer as the original part and are of the same quality.  These parts are sold directly to the retailer, or re-seller and typically bear the original manufacturer’s branding. It might not say ‘Honda’ on it, but it is the same part and it is likely much less costly.

OEM parts are generally a better alternative to Original Equipment, as they are essentially the same product for less money. The difficulty lay in determining who the original manufacturer is for your particular part.

Aftermarket  Parts

Aftermarket parts are not necessarily from the original equipment manufacturer, but  ‘Aftermarket’ does not necessarily imply inferior quality. In fact, some aftermarket parts are improved versions of the original.

In general, there are two categories of aftermarket parts:

The first is simply a cheaper alternative to the OE or OEM part. These parts can vary widely in quality, with some exceeding original manufacturer specifications and others not coming close. These parts are often purchased to replace non-critical components like air filters, oil filters, and the like. A general rule of thumb is to do your research and buy aftermarket parts from respected providers.

The second type of aftermarket part is an upgraded part.  We’ve all seen recalls on automobiles and these recalls are due to defective parts. An upgraded aftermarket part is designed to improve on the performance of the original item. These parts are often used by the automaker to ensure better performance. Of course, in this case they bear the automaker’s branding.

What’s It All Mean

Well, it means that just like any other purchase that you make, you need to do your research. It should be apparent that Original Equipment parts are going to cost the most. OEM parts are a better option as you are getting the same part at a cheaper price. Aftermarket parts, can be a little more risky, but if you are buying from a trusted retailer – you can save even more money.