When you take your car in for repairs following an accident, you usually have a couple of options when it comes to replacement parts. You can opt for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, which restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition by using identical parts to the ones it was originally made with, or aftermarket parts, which are made to function like OEM parts but aren’t completely identical because they’re made by different manufacturers.
Choosing between OEM vs aftermarket parts often depends on the type of repairs you need and the shop you take it to. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and a good collision repair expert will be able to help point you in the right direction based on your situation and preferences.
What Does OEM Mean?
OEM parts are identical to the parts that came with your car when it was originally manufactured. They’re of the same quality and will restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition. Because they’re made by the original manufacturer, they’re generally more expensive and less widely available than aftermarket parts.
What are Aftermarket Parts?
Aftermarket parts are made to look and function like OEM parts, but since they’re made by other manufacturers, they can differ when it comes to quality, price, and availability. In most cases, aftermarket parts are cheaper than OEM parts, but they can be of better or worse quality depending on the part and the manufacturer.
OEM Car Parts
There are both benefits and drawbacks to choosing OEM parts. In most cases, they’re more expensive and can take longer to get, but you know what you’re getting and they often come with a warranty.
The benefits of choosing OEM parts are somewhat self-explanatory. They’re identical to the original parts, meaning you know what to expect and how they will function in your car. They often come with a warranty and the quality is consistent because every part comes from the same manufacturer. If you don’t know much about cars and don’t mind spending a little extra for the “safe” option, you can’t really go wrong with OEM parts.
Here’s a quick rundown of the pros of OEM parts:
- They’re identical to the part that’s being replaced.
- They usually come with a warranty.
- You know exactly what you’re getting.
While OEM parts are a straightforward option, they’re not always as easy to get and they tend to be more expensive than aftermarket parts because there’s no competition among manufacturers. Depending on the quality of the aftermarket parts available, you sometimes end up paying a premium for an OEM part that is actually worse quality than the aftermarket one.
Here are some potential drawbacks to using OEM parts:
- They’re often more expensive than aftermarket parts.
- Despite being more expensive, they’re not always better quality.
- Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, availability can be limited.
Aftermarket Car Parts
Unlike OEM parts, not all aftermarket parts are created equal. Some function better than OEM parts, while others function worse. That’s why it’s important to consult a good collision repair expert for their advice when it comes to choosing aftermarket parts.
Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the quality of the part, and the nature of the repairs, aftermarket parts can help you save money and contribute to a quality repair. Because there are multiple manufacturers, they’re often relatively easy to obtain and a good auto body shop will be able to help you determine the best aftermarket parts for your specific repairs.
Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits of using aftermarket parts:
- In general, they’re less expensive than OEM parts.
- There’s more variety and multiple manufacturers to choose from.
- They’re often more readily available.
While aftermarket parts may seem like an obvious choice if you’re looking to save money, their quality and availability can vary significantly. If you don’t know much about your car and don’t know where to start, you’ll want to either opt for OEM parts or rely on the advice of a reliable auto body shop to find quality aftermarket parts.
Here are some cons to consider when it comes to using aftermarket parts:
- Quality can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
- They may not come with a warranty.
- The selection can sometimes be overwhelming.
Pro Tip: How to Tell OEM Parts from Aftermarket?
The best way to tell the difference between an OEM part and aftermarket part is to go to an experienced auto body shop, where technicians will know what to look for. There are very reputable aftermarket manufacturers nowadays but, unfortunately, there are also counterfeit OEM parts. OEM parts should come with a certificate of authenticity with a unique code and ID number.
OEM vs Aftermarket Parts for Collision Repair
Choosing between OEM vs aftermarket parts is, to some extent, a personal decision based on the importance of quality, price, and appearance to you, the vehicle owner. That being said, a good auto body shop will take a number of factors into account when determining which type of part to use in a given situation. These include:
- Make and model of the car
- Availability of both types of parts
- Fit (whether a part must be clicked or screwed into place)
- Functionality (will an aftermarket part work as well or better than an OEM part?)
- Appearance (will the part blend in with the rest of the car or stand out as an aftermarket part?)
Can I Request OEM Parts?
You are always free to request OEM parts if that’s what you prefer. However, many insurance companies prefer aftermarket parts due to the cost savings. In some cases, your insurance company may require you to pay the difference.
Both Oregon and Washington have laws that require insurance companies to pay to have your car repaired to “pre-accident” conditions. However, if they can demonstrate that an aftermarket part is equivalent to the original part, you may be required to pay for the difference in cost to use a new OEM part.
Get Your Car Repaired The Right Way
The expert technicians at Mackin’s Auto Body know how to get the job done right the first time. Not only is our shop I-CAR certified, but we’re also a Volkswagen, Tesla, Honda, and Subaru approved repair shop with special expertise in fixing cars from these manufacturers.
We know how to determine the right parts to use based on your vehicle and the required repairs.
Call us at 1-800-653-0665 or come see us at one of our 9 convenient Portland-area locations for an estimate!