DIY auto enthusiasts are certainly no strangers to the performance advantages of aftermarket auto parts, but manufacturer-made parts also bring their own unique benefits.
When you start a new project in the shop, do you consider both aftermarket and OEM parts or just automatically go for one over the other? For your next car project, keep in mind the following pros and cons of choosing aftermarket vs. OEM parts.
Aftermarket Auto Parts Defined
OEM: Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are built by a vehicle’s auto maker. They’re the same parts that were initially installed in your car when it was brand new.
Aftermarket: Aftermarket parts speak for any auto parts that aren’tcreated by a vehicle’s manufacturer.
Pros and Cons: Should You Spring for Aftermarket Parts?
Price: Think of OEM and aftermarket parts in the same way you think of name-brand and store-brand versions of a product from the grocery store.
Since you’re not paying for the prestige/reputation of the brand name, in general, a store-brand product is going to be cheaper than a name brand. The same goes for aftermarket and OEM parts: Aftermarket parts tend to be less expensive than OEM ones.
Performance: When it comes to the performance quality of OEM vs. aftermarket parts, it’s useful to keep in mind that OEM parts are engineered to strike a quality balance between safety, efficiency, and durability for a general audience (the average sedan driver, for example).
If you want to upgrade parts of your vehicle for performance-related driving, like upgrading your exhaust system to complement power gains from a newly installed cold-air intake, a specialty aftermarket part is going to provide a better result for what you’re looking for.
Availability: OEM parts are typically only available at dealerships that sell your car’s make. On the flip side, you can buy aftermarket parts at your go-to parts store or virtually any repair shop.
Variety: The sheer number of aftermarket part brands out there can be a little overwhelming. Those in pursuit of aftermarket parts should do their research, read reviews, and speak to a professional to ensure that they find the part that will work best for their application.
OEM parts tend to be straightforward with what’s offered. There’s just one type that has your car’s year, make, and model name on it!
Which Part Is the Right Fit?
Aftermarket auto parts and OEM parts each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Choose OEM: In general, for modifications or replacements that are unique to your specific model, OEM is the better way to go.
Go Aftermarket: When you’re making an upgrade that requires stepping outside the performance bounds of normal driving, there’s an aftermarket part out there that’ll do just the trick; you just need to find it.
ATC’s Automotive and Hi-Performance Technology students become familiar with the industry’s best aftermarket brands and OEM racing equipment. To learn more, check out our Automotive and Hi-Performance Technology program page!