If you’ve replaced a car part, you’ve likely had to decide between an OEM part and an aftermarket part. There are distinct differences between the two. While they both have their value, sometimes picking one over the other can be a better long-term investment.

OEM vs. Aftermarket

There are several differences between original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and aftermarket parts. Expense is one of the differences as OEM is typically more expensive than aftermarket. This is because the original part that went into the car is used to replace the faulty item. A warranty is typically issued as well, giving you some peace of mind.

If you take your car to the dealership or the official repair center offered by the car’s manufacturer, you will get an OEM part. However, a car repair shop that is independent of a dealership will most likely use aftermarket parts due to the price that can be saved on the part on their end, and ultimately on yours as well.

Car experts want buyers to be aware of the parts that repair centers and garages may use. It is wise to ask if the part is OEM or aftermarket, therefore you know if you are overpaying or not. In addition, you know exactly what is going into your car.

Of course, expense is the best reason to buy aftermarket parts, but there are other good reasons to save cash and go with non-OEM materials. The quality of aftermarket is often times just as good, and in some cases better than the original parts.

However, this is not always the case as quality in some aftermarket parts does vary from time to time. Aftermarket also has a vast selection compared to OEM, which can be rather limited. However, with so much choice it may be difficult to narrow down which brand to go with. Ideally, you should consult with a mechanic, or do your homework through reliable sources, before choosing your aftermarket part.

While aftermarket is far cheaper, which sits well with most car owners, others are happy to pay a little more.

Which should you use?

The million-dollar question is: When should you use which? The basic answer is OEM parts are all of the same high quality, while aftermarket can vary considerably. That lack of choice in OEM means that quality doesn’t vary as widely as in aftermarket.

In addition, it is advised to use OEM when repairing a car that has been in a collision. OEM parts will fit properly when replacing the old car panels. Using aftermarket parts can increase the risk of more serious injuries if a collision was to occur again.

While aftermarket will save you cash in the short-term, OEM has the ability to save you money as a long-term investment. If you are selling your car, down the road, you can let the buyer know that all car parts are high-quality OEM parts that were built for your vehicle. This may give your buyer more confidence and result in a few extra bills on your sale.

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