A part of car ownership involves vehicle maintenance and the occasional shopping trip to replace obsolete auto parts. Whether the parts aim to maintain the function of the vehicle, or you're looking to improve the appearances of your vehicle, shopping will present a whole new challenge if you can't determine the difference between OEM and Aftermarket Parts.
Many often wonder if it's worth sticking to genuine vehicle parts or if there are some benefits other than cost to purchasing aftermarket parts from a different manufacturer.
While it's normal to wonder about such things, it may be comforting to know most of the parts you'll ever have to replace on your vehicle were probably outsourced to another company to begin with. It's rare and sometimes even expensive to produce auto parts in house. Take it from Henry Ford, who was known to outsource the production and purchase of parts such as tires, springs, and even generators. Yes, even for his beloved Model T cars.
Depending on the auto manufacturer, it's not also cost beneficial to produce the parts inside their own factories. Sometimes there's not enough room, or purchasing the specialized equipment to make the parts would exceed the profit margin. In fact, ISO certification may even require auto manufacturers to have "options" when it comes to sourcing parts. This is convenient and also is a lifeline in case a particular part becomes unavailable at one particular source, and then there're other alternatives.
What About Packaging?
One of the prime differences between an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) part is the packaging. The packaging may state that the part is a genuine vehicle part, but upon examination of the actual part, you may find that the part was still of premium quality. This isn't always the case, however, as some parts can vary in quality depending on the manufacturer. Some parts may last many years while others will completely fall apart upon unboxing. You just never know.
So how do these manufacturers enter into contracts with car manufacturers? It all starts when the vehicle is on the assembly line. The manufacturers will enter an agreement with the car manufacturer to supply these replacement parts. For a year or so, the parts company will enter an agreement to supply only those parts to the car manufacturer but once the initial years expire, the manufacturer is free to market the parts towards any auto parts retailer they desire.
Some parts manufacturers may specialize in producing these replacement parts at a higher quality than the original parts. These parts may be specific to a particular car model or make. You find these types of part manufacturers are very popular with classical vehicles such as late year Chevrolet Corvettes or other classical cars.
Some examples range from everything like brake rotors and shoes, to exhaust components. While these new and improved parts are more expensive, the auto improvement enthusiasts are often more than happy with the improved vehicle's performance.
Exterior Body Repair
Occasionally a body panel might suffer a ding or worse, but for these parts OEM parts manufacturers have your back. Most of the time a hood or even a fender can be replaced after placing an order through a website or a specialized catalogue.
Are OEM Parts Safe?
Many industry tests have been performed to verify the durability and safety of these parts compared to their original counterparts. The crash test ratings have revealed no distinguishable differences between the two. It's safe to say that OEM parts can be used without worry of your safety being compromised.
On the other side of the fence is the car enthusiasts who speculate that the OEM parts are often made from inferior materials, or are even difficult to install due to improper line-up. For this reason, an Agency known as Certified Automotive Parts Association dedicates their time towards testing aftermarket parts to ensure they are of the same remarkable quality as their original counterparts.
If the CAPA certifies the part, chances are the part will meet your expectations and you won't have any problems with installing the part.
The next time you visit your auto parts store, you don't have to scratch your head wondering what the differences are between OEM parts and the original auto parts your vehicle came standard with. Often, there's little to no difference.