Don’t buy into the hype. You don’t always have to spend more money to find quality, especially when it comes to replacement parts for your car. Sure, manufacturers tell you to buy original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts for your vehicle to ensure safety and performance, but did you know these manufacturers don’t even make their own parts?
That’s right. They use outside independent companies to design their parts, and after a certain amount of time, they sell these parts to wholesale distributors for resale, which are known as OEM parts. It’s a similar situation with aftermarket parts which simply means the product is made by a company other than the original manufacturer of the car.
Aftermarket companies buy the rights to reproduce certain car parts and supply them to the same wholesale distributors that are selling the OEM parts. In many cases, an aftermarket company may even find a way to improve the parts, resulting in an even better quality product than the OEM.
Additionally, aftermarket parts are produced with the same machinery and materials as OEM and genuine parts, and they perform just as well as the originals. While the parts may have minor differences in the look and feel, they basically perform the same function. The only real difference is the price and it’s a big difference!
So why pay more for an OEM part when you can buy aftermarket for more than 70 percent less? Since aftermarket manufacturers don’t have the same costs as original manufacturers, such as research, development, advertising or even special packaging, they can sell parts at a reduced rate, and the customer benefits.
While aftermarket parts may have come under scrutiny, and their safety quality has come into question in the past, there is no need for concern, according to The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which conducts crash tests.
In February 2000, the company conducted a study on a 1997 Toyota Camry where the original-equipment hood was replaced with a certified hood from an aftermarket supplier. The study compared this crash test with a similar test using a 1997 Camry with the original-equipment parts. IIHS reported that “both Camry’s performed with distinction in 40 mph frontal offset impacts,” and both earned good crashworthiness ratings according to the Institute’s evaluation procedures.
In fact, Brian O’Neill, president of IIHS said in the report, “Claims are made that using cosmetic parts from sources other than original equipment manufacturers could compromise safety. But these claims are red herrings to try to frighten peoplethere are no safety implications of using cosmetic crash parts from any source.”
However, it is important to note that many aftermarket parts are specifically designed to fit certain model cars and certain years for each model, so make sure you order parts that match your vehicles make, model and year.
But don’t pay more for OEM, when you can get the same or better quality for so much less.