When attempting to find replacement car parts, one of the biggest choices a person will face is whether to purchase an OEM or aftermarket part. OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer, and means that the part that is being purchased was built by the same company that originally supplied the part. Aftermarket parts are built by another company that has reverse engineered the part and is now producing it. Both OEM and aftermarket parts have positives and negatives, and a buyer needs to be aware of these in order to make an informed decision.
OEM parts are usually easier to choose since there is only one manufacturer per part and limited variations for a specific model car. These parts can provide some peace of mind relating to quality, as the new parts are exact replacements of the old and manufactured with the same techniques and tooling as the original. Additionally, most OEM parts include a manufacturer's warranty. As a downside, OEM parts are almost always more expensive than aftermarket parts, sometimes significantly so. OEM parts are also less available than aftermarket parts, usually only available through a dealership. This can increase the time needed to complete a repair and may involve a drive if no dealerships are nearby. Finally, while OEM parts have a certain level of quality, sometimes aftermarket parts have been tweaked or improved to increase functionality or quality. OEM parts will usually have the exact same quality as the part that's being replaced.
Shopping for aftermarket parts can be much more interesting, as there are usually multiple manufacturers with multiple versions of a specific part. Some will exactly replicate the original part, while others will be engineered with improvements in functionality, performance or build quality. Aftermarket parts are almost always cheaper than OEM parts, though the amount can vary widely, depending on additional features or engineering. These parts are also much more readily available, as they are carried by auto parts stores, mechanics and even big-box retailers, making the replacements much quicker to obtain. Additionally, for older cars, manufacturers may no longer support that model or may have disappeared entirely. In this case, OEM parts may be effectively unobtainable. On the other hand, due to the variety of manufacturers and production methods, quality can vary wildly between brands. Some consumers may also be overwhelmed by the number of available options and have a hard time making a good choice. Also, some aftermarket parts skip the warranty to keep costs down.
The choice between OEM and aftermarket parts is a personal one, depending on what factors matter most to a particular buyer. Both can make sense, depending on the needs of the consumer. You can contact companies like Pick-A-Part Jalopy Jungle for more information.