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Are aftermarket car parts as good as genuine or OEM?

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Updated 11 Oct 2019Rowan Johnstone
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In all areas of life, consumers tend to take a price-conscious approach when purchasing items. It’s not like this is news, of course. It’s been happening forever and it definitely won't be changing anytime soon. Unless you’re a lucky member of the financial elite who never need to look at a price tag, then you’ll be familiar with the practice of price shopping when purchasing anything from a bottle of milk to a new car.

One person’s reason for price shopping may be different from the next. An individual may purely be looking for the cheapest option, no matter what it is, and as long as it meets their basic needs. Others will be looking for the best value for money, which might mean that while they don’t buy the cheapest option, they don’t buy the most expensive either. Of course, while there is a heap of different individual preferences that influence a purchase, price and value are definitely key players.

Which brings us to car parts. Many of us know that genuine car parts can be expensive, often seeming overpriced. Let’s be honest, even when Ford and Holden manufactured cars in Australia, buying genuine parts would leave a serious dent in your wallet. So is it really worth shelling out the extra dollars purely for genuine parts, or even original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, instead of aftermarket?

First up, what’s the difference between them?

Genuine parts

are supplied by the manufacturer of the vehicle and usually come branded or packaged so that it’s obvious it belongs to a certain make. A genuine part is exactly what was fitted to your car when it left the factory.

OEM parts

are essentially exactly the same as genuine, right down to coming from the same company that manufactured the genuine parts. The only difference is that OEM parts don’t carry the logo of the car manufacturer. Sometimes, going with genuine or OEM parts is your only option as there may be no aftermarket offerings.

Aftermarket parts

are made by companies other than the original manufacturer and can look and operate completely differently to the genuine/OEM parts. Any given car can have an untold number of aftermarket parts that aim to do the same job as the genuine or OEM parts. However, it’s worth noting that an aftermarket part may do the job better or worse than a genuine or OEM part.

PARTS

More on the differences between genuine, OEM and aftermarket parts

So, are aftermarket parts just as good?

This depends. As mentioned before, there can be heaps of different aftermarket options for the one genuine part. Aftermarket parts can look, feel and perform completely different from their genuine counterparts, either for better or worse, and this can come down to many reasons.

At the cheaper end of the aftermarket, parts are generally made with lower quality materials and workmanship in an effort to reduce the cost, so the selling price can be as cheap as possible. This end of the market relies on quantity over quality and appeals to those looking for a quick and cheap solution. The real dangers of this end of the market is the possibility that the parts don’t even meet the manufacturer's specifications.

There is also a middle ground, where aftermarket companies make replacement parts that perform nearly identically to genuine/OEM and meet manufacturer’s specifications, however, they can be offered at a cheaper price. This might be down to the benefit of focused mass production, or other efficiencies, which reduces costs.

At the opposite end, you have aftermarket parts that are actually engineered to be an improvement over the genuine/OEM options. This comes down to things such as using premium materials that are stronger (if necessary), lighter and more efficient than the genuine/OEM parts, using updated and more advanced technology to create a better part or completely redesigning and re-engineering the part to perform a specific way. These aftermarket parts can easily cost a premium over genuine and OEM and appeal to customers who either want to improve the performance or reliability (or both) of their car.

CHEAP

Five car parts you should never cheap out on

If you’re deciding whether genuine/OEM or aftermarket is the way to go, there is a bit to consider. If your car is under warranty, you’ll need to make sure that the parts fitted to your car meet manufacturers specifications. The easiest way to do this is to fit genuine/OEM, however, there are quality aftermarket options that will suffice.

If your car is out of warranty and you just want to keep it running that little bit longer, aftermarket parts that are cheaper than genuine/OEM and still get the job done might be the way to go for you. If quality is your main concern or if you’re looking to increase your cars performance or reliability over its stock form, you should opt for performance aftermarket parts.

Regardless, when you book in for your next service or repair, use AutoGuru to easily find a fully qualified, local mechanic who can suggest which parts are the best for your situation.

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Written ByRowan Johnstone

On weekdays Rowan can be found in the AutoGuru office, driving content and growth with the rest of the marketing team.

On weekends you’ll probably find him in the garage with his father restoring a 1958 Ford Star Model Customline or enjoying a cruise through the Gold Coast hinterland on his Suzuki GSX-R600.

Despite his passion for being behind the wheel (or handlebars), Rowan looks forward to the day when he can commute to work in his own driverless car.