Aftermarket versus OEM car parts: is the extra cost worth it?

Aftermarket versus OEM car parts: is the extra cost worth it?

George Skentzos
Head of Customer Experience
January 27, 2022

Many drivers believe that OEM car parts are the best choice when their vehicles need to be repaired or serviced. Made by the original manufacturer, it would seem to be obvious that they are the best option for those who care about the condition of their cars. 

However, many question whether they are always the better choice than aftermarket car parts and if the extra cost associated with OEM parts are really worth it. To help you decide, we look at the pros and cons associated with each option.

OEM car parts

Advantages of using OEM parts

  • ConvenienceOEM manufacturers maintain large catalogues of parts for every vehicle they make, which means your local dealer should never have a problem finding the parts that you need. Since they are made specifically for your car, you don’t need to spend any time verifying they are fit for purpose either. You simply provide the part number and wait for the service assistant to fetch the part in question. If you are not servicing your own vehicle, you can simply let your mechanic know you would like them to use OEM parts for all repairs and replacements.
  • Quality — Whether a particular OEM part is of a higher quality than a comparable aftermarket part will depend on which company made the aftermarket part and how good their quality control procedures are. However, majority of the time, OEM parts will be of the same quality as the part it is replacing.
  • Full manufacturer’s warranty — In the majority of cases, an OEM part will be supplied with a warranty from the manufacturer. If it is faulty or it damages your vehicle in any way, you should not have to worry about the cost of replacing it or the cost of repairing any damage that may have occurred to other components.

Disadvantages of OEM parts

  • Cost — OEM parts will almost always cost more than their aftermarket equivalents. The only exception to this rule is when you replace an OEM part with a high-performance part made by a specialist manufacturer. OEM bodywork can be particularly expensive, often as much as 60% more than aftermarket parts of the same type.
  • Availability — If you want OEM parts, you will probably have to buy them from an authorised dealer, which means you have less choice as far as suppliers are concerned. With aftermarket parts, you can simply choose the most price-competitive and convenient supplier.
  • Quality is not always better – In some cases, aftermarket parts may actually be of a higher quality than equivalent OEM parts. Without spending hours researching the parts in question, it may be difficult for you to know for sure that OEM parts are really worth the additional cost.

Aftermarket car parts

Advantages of aftermarket parts

  • Cheaper to buy — In general, aftermarket parts are significantly cheaper. If you are keen to minimise your vehicle maintenance costs, you will almost certainly find aftermarket spares the most appealing option. The fact you can shop around also makes it easier to find great aftermarket deals, saving even more money in the process.
  • Greater choice of parts — You may find many companies that make the part you are looking for, which means you can choose the one you find most fitting for your budget and vehicle needs.
  • Availability — If you're someone who needs to drive frequently, chances are you are going to repair your car as soon as possible. Auto parts stores and service stations across the country stock a wide variety of aftermarket parts. This means you should be able to find what you need quickly and easily without hunting for an authorised dealer.

Disadvantages of aftermarket parts

  • Variable quality — While some parts may be even better than their OEM equivalents, quality can definitely vary. For this reason, you will need to familiarise yourself with the more reputable brands and resist the temptation to always buy the cheapest available part.
  • Warranties are not always provided — Not every aftermarket part is supplied with a warranty from the manufacturer. In the event a part without a warranty should turn out to be of substandard quality, you will not be able to make a claim for it — you will simply have to buy a replacement for it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that aftermarket parts may void your vehicle warranty. If the vehicle manufacturer accepts them as direct replacements this won’t be the case — but if not, you should consider your position carefully before using them.

In summary, aftermarket car parts can be very good value for money, and if you stick with reputable makers, you shouldn’t run into any difficulties. However, if you don’t like the idea of having to research each part you need before making a purchase, you will probably find that OEM car parts are the most suitable option for your needs.

About the author
George is the Head of Marketing and Customer Experience at Loopit. Having originally started his career as a motoring journalist and founding team member for one of Australia's top automotive startups, George has a strong passion for automotive, business and growth marketing.

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