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


    Did you know that the global automotive aftermarket industry is now worth $427.5 billion? Come 2030, though; experts forecast this market to rake in revenues amounting to $559.9 billion.

    One reason behind that growth is the ever-expanding availability of aftermarket parts. By contrast, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) components still experience restrictions.

    But what exactly are aftermarket parts, and how do they differ from their OEM versions? Most importantly, which of the two should you get?

    We’ll answer all that and more in this aftermarket vs. OEM comparison guide, so keep reading.

    What Are Aftermarket Vehicle Parts?

    Automotive aftermarket parts are products from companies other than a vehicle’s original manufacturer. Therefore, many also refer to them as non-OEM or generic parts. Moreover, their manufacturers classify as “third-party companies.”

    However, many aftermarket products perform the same functions as OEM parts. Thus, car owners can use them as a replacement for factory, built-in vehicle components.

    Typical aftermarket parts include filters, brake pads, spark plugs, and wiper blades. However, you can also find non-OEM wheels, tires, air intakes, and exhaust systems.

    Moreover, according to Sport Compact Warehouse, you can get aftermarket performance suspension kits. In addition, non-OEM part makers also make truck lift kits, bed covers, tool boxes, and RV or camper parts.

    You can also get non-OEM parts that boost vehicle safety, including cameras and lights. Likewise, security systems, such as theft alarms and video cameras, are also available. There are also luxurious seats and window films, helping improve aesthetics and comfort.

    What About OEM Car Parts?

    Most OEM auto parts are products from the car maker itself. For example, Ford designs and manufactures many components of its vehicles. It then assembles each final product in one of its factories.

    However, each Ford vehicle also has parts that Ford itself doesn’t directly manufacture.

    Instead, those components come from its authorized contracted suppliers. These companies design and produce parts under the OEM’s authorization.

    For instance, Ford’s airbags come from Autoliv, a Sweden company. There’s also the Colombian Chaidneme, supplying mufflers and exhaust systems. Another is the Japanese company NHK Spring, providing Ford with suspension stabilizer linkages.

    All in all, Ford works with over a dozen direct suppliers of essential vehicle components. And despite Ford not making them, these sourced parts are still OEM. After all, their manufacturers specifically designed them for Ford.

    Aftermarket vs. OEM: Which Is Better Then?

    Aftermarket parts may be better if you want affordability and ease of access. But if your car is still under warranty, you might want to stick to OEM parts. The final choice depends on you, but consider the following when choosing between the two.

    Affordability and Availability

    Aftermarket auto parts often cost less than OEM because they work with more than one car make and model. For example, aftermarket performance wheels that fit a Ford F-150 may also be okay in a GMC Sierra 1500. Likewise, the same non-OEM product may work with a Toyota Tundra, a Ram 1500, or a Chevy Silverado 1500.

    For the same reason, companies can mass-produce non-OEM parts, making them widely available. That increases supply, which often exceeds demand, thus, leading to lower prices.

    That increased availability also means most car repair shops carry non-OEM parts. Moreover, these businesses can buy them in bulk or wholesale, which is often cheaper. Most then pass on those savings to their clients by charging less for parts.

    On the other hand, OEM car parts can cost more since you’re paying for the brand name. More than that, they only fit specific makes and models, so makers don’t produce them in huge numbers. Therefore, they’re more prone to being out of stock.

    Also, even if those parts become available again, they would only be in limited quantities. That can cause the demand to exceed the supply, so their prices can increase.

    Urgency of Repairs

    If you’re short on cash but need repairs ASAP, say, for fluid leaks, consider aftermarket parts. Replacing leaking lines with non-OEM components often costs less than OEM parts. And because you’d have to spend less, you’re less likely to delay getting them fixed.


    If your car is still under warranty, check its terms and conditions about using non-OEM parts. Many manufacturers void warranties if a vehicle has undergone modification with aftermarket components.

    In other cases, dealerships may deny warranty claims due to aftermarket parts. These are often specific to damages caused by or relating to the use of non-OEM repair parts.

    It’s also vital to note that OEM parts often have lengthy warranties. On the other hand, not all aftermarket parts even provide warranties.

    Resale Value

    If you plan to sell your ride, it may be better to go with OEM replacement parts. One reason is that many people prefer genuine components, even when buying a used car.

    It also doesn’t help that many mistakenly believe that non-OEM parts reduce a car’s value. On the contrary, some aftermarket upgrades can improve a vehicle’s value.

    According to KBB, an example is the addition of custom alloy wheels. That can boost the car’s appearance and resale value.

    However, KBB notes that each aftermarket upgrade can whittle down the buyer pool. After all, many non-OEM additions are too personalized. Therefore, a car with too many aftermarket parts may have a lower resale value.

    OEM Isn’t Always Better

    We hope this guide comparing aftermarket vs. OEM has helped enlighten you on how the two differ. Now you know that non-OEM parts are often cheaper and can help make your ride last longer or boost its value. Still, not everyone likes them, so if you want to sell your car in the future, it may be best to go with genuine parts.

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