OEM Parts vs Aftermarket Parts

Car mechanic using a computer in an auto repair shop.
••• ferrantraite / Getty Images

If your vehicle has been significantly damaged during an accident or if you've been driving it for a while and it’s experiencing wear and tear, chances are you'll need to purchase replacement parts.

You might think that doing so is simple. Your repair shop handles everything, right? But the type of parts that your vehicle will be repaired with can vary, and your car insurance will often dictate the type of parts you can use if you want the repair to be covered in full.

There are two options: original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and aftermarket parts. In most cases, both types of parts are options for repairing your vehicle after an accident. You have to choose which parts will be used to repair your car. Both types of parts are good options, but which option is best? What are the differences between OEM parts and aftermarket parts? It pays to find out more about the auto parts used to repair vehicles before getting your car fixed.

What Are the Differences Between OEM Parts and Aftermarket Parts?

OEM parts are made directly by the car manufacturer, not by a third party. OEM parts, because they are made by the manufacturer to fit the specifications of a particular make and model, tend to fit perfectly. If you take your car to get repaired at a dealer, the dealer will likely use OEM parts. However, they also cost more money as a result.

Aftermarket parts are manufactured by a company other than your car manufacturer. They can be produced at a high volume and made to fit the specifications of different types of vehicles, not just a single vehicle make and model. They are similar to OEM parts in like, kind, and quality, but they may not be a perfect fit because they are made by a third party. As you can imagine, they are often much cheaper than OEM parts.

Which Parts Are the Best?

You might think that OEM parts are better because they come straight from your car's manufacturer. But are they always the best parts for you? It comes down to personal preference. The people who are usually most concerned about getting OEM parts include car enthusiasts, body shop mechanics, and owners of brand-new vehicles. Other people may not know the difference or care and just want their vehicle fixed. The lower cost of aftermarket parts makes them an appealing option for many, but some prefer the comfort of having parts made specifically for their vehicle.

Does It Matter What Kind of Parts Are Used to Repair Your Vehicle?

To some people, it most definitely matters. OEM parts keep the vehicle closer to its original state. However, on the flip side, once you drive your car off of the lot, it's no longer new. So why do you need OEM parts when used parts or aftermarket parts can get the job done more cost-effectively? Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether the kind of parts used to repair your vehicle matter.

Will Insurance Cover OEM Parts for Repairs on My Vehicle?

It all depends on the language in your specific policy. Most insurers will only cover aftermarket parts because they accomplish the same job for less money than OEM parts. You should check with your insurance company, though, and if it's important to you to use OEM parts in vehicle repairs, you should look for a policy that covers them. You can also opt to pay the difference between the cost of aftermarket and OEM parts.

Aftermarket parts are safe and regulated by the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA).

Will the Parts Used for Repairs Affect the Future Resale Value of My Vehicle?

A vehicle damaged in an accident will likely have a lower value than one that has never been damaged, especially if there was structural damage or airbag deployment. However, the parts used to make the repair probably won't have much of a bearing on your vehicle's resale value. Going with OEM versus aftermarket parts would only be for your benefit and peace of mind. Weigh the costs against the potential differences to help you decide which parts are the best for your vehicle.

Article Sources

  1. Edmunds. "Aftermarket Versus Manufacturer Car Parts." Accessed April 12, 2020.

  2. RepairPal. "What OEM Parts Are, and Why They're Important." Accessed April 12, 2020.

  3. National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. "Our Positions: Aftermarket Parts." Accessed April 12, 2020.

  4. Insurance Information Institute. "FAQs About Direct Repair Programs and Generic Auto Parts." Accessed April 12, 2020.