OEM 101: Is OEM the Same As the Original?

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If you’ve ever had to repair your car or take it to a mechanic, you may have been asked whether you want OEM, aftermarket, or genuine parts. These parts may look the same, but can be vastly different in price as well as quality.

So how do you know which one to choose? If you’re installing an OEM part, will it be as effective as your original part? Read on to learn more about the OEM meaning, and to learn whether they are a safe and effective choice for your car.

What Are OEM Parts?

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This means that the part was built by the original manufacturer of the car. In the past, this meant the car company itself built the part, but now many car manufacturers outsource their production to other companies.

You can find Ford OEM parts, Honda OEM parts, Acura OEM parts, BMW OEM parts, and more at your local auto dealership. This article on shieldworksmfg.com explains more about how the OEM process works.

OEM parts are contrasted with genuine auto parts and aftermarket auto parts. Genuine parts are parts that were installed in the vehicle when it was first manufactured. Aftermarket auto parts are made by other companies who have bought the right to make parts for a specific car.

None of these parts are necessarily better or worse for your car. Rather, they serve different needs. People interested in preserving their car exactly as it was may prefer genuine parts, while car customizers will typically choose aftermarket parts.

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Pros and Cons of OEM Parts

That said, OEM parts are usually the best choice for an everyday driver. Since manufacturers design them specifically for one car model, they are most likely to fit into the car and work properly. Installing an OEM part is essentially replacing the part with an exact duplicate.

OEM parts are usually cheaper than genuine parts, but more expensive than some aftermarket parts. Aftermarket parts are often manufactured to fit several car models, decreasing their price but also their reliability. Of course, you can also buy higher-quality aftermarket parts that improve upon the old one, but expect to pay for the privilege.

If your car is less than ten years old, OEM parts are easily bought at a dealership. But if you’re driving an older car, it may be difficult to locate OEM parts.

The variety of aftermarket parts can be overwhelming, and non-experts may find it hard to know whether they’re getting a high-quality part or not. With an OEM part, you can be sure that the quality is comparable to what you would find in a new car.

More About Cars and Driving

Now that you know about OEM and other types of parts, you’ll be able to drive to the mechanic or parts store with confidence. Browse our technology section for more on the world of cars and driving.