If your car is in an accident, you’re likely to hear the term “OEM parts” at some point during your repair. OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. Your insurance company may suggest that you opt to replace a damaged part with an aftermarket part, a salvaged part, or another kind of part.

When you’re faced with decisions like these without any background knowledge, they can be overwhelming!

We’ve put together a guide to replacement automotive parts to help you make an educated decision.

OEM Auto Parts

An OEM part is one that was made by the company that manufactured the parts that were used when your car was first put together. When it was new, it’s parts came from a factory – that manufacturer is the original equipment manufacturer.

It may be possible to get replacement parts from the same manufacturer that produced those parts: they’re called OEM parts.

A genuine OEM part is one that has the company logo on it. They’re often used in restorations, but the part itself isn’t any different from an OEM part.

Should you use OEM parts?

Replacing your damaged parts with OEM parts means you know you’ll get a part that fits your car and is designed to have the same safety and functionality as when it was brand new. They can be more expensive than aftermarket parts. If you have the option, you can afford an OEM part, and you’re satisfied with (and want to match) the original standards of your vehicle, you can never go wrong with an OEM part.

Aftermarket or Non-OEM Auto Parts

An aftermarket auto part is one made to fit your car by a manufacturer other than the manufacturer who created the original parts. Many non-OEM parts may exist and their quality can vary, it’s not uncommon for the quality and fit to be undesirable.

Should you use aftermarket parts?

The price of aftermarket parts is usually (but not always) less than the cost of OEM parts. The safety standards and functionality can vary and aftermarket parts may not be safer or work better than OEM parts. It’s important to look at the specifics of the part and your budget when you’re considering using non-OEM auto parts.

They can be a great option if you aren’t stuck on having the same exact part as the original vehicle. Remember to consider any warranties before you use an aftermarket part!

Used, Salvaged, or Recycled Auto Parts

Used parts have previously been part of another car and can be reused as a replacement part on your car. The condition of the car depends on the car it comes from, its age, how it was removed, and a myriad of other factors. Each part has its own history! Salvaged parts may be OEM or aftermarket.

Should you use recycled auto parts?

Salvaged parts have been used before, and are generally a budget-friendly option for older cars. Sometimes OEMs and aftermarket parts manufacturers have stopped producing new parts and recycled parts are the only option. They may take time to find and can require work to obtain or match.

oem partsOriginal equipment manufacturer auto parts, or OEM parts, are car parts that are made by the vehicle’s original manufacturer. They are the exact same parts, made with the same materials in the same way, usually with the same machines, that the vehicle was made with.

It does not mean that the parts are made by the car company; many auto companies use outside manufacturers to produce their original parts. OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer as the original vehicle, regardless of who that was.
When auto parts are broken or worn out either due to an accident, normal wear and tear, or other damage to a vehicle, original equipment manufacturer parts can be used to replace the old parts. Many auto body shops and insurance companies allow the vehicle owner to choose what kind of parts to use on the vehicle during repair or maintenance, because there are other manufacturers that produce parts of lesser, equal, or superior value.

OEM Auto Parts: The Basics

They might be more expensive. Often, OEM parts are more expensive than either aftermarket or recycled parts.

OEM parts will help your vehicle maintain its value. Because OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer with the same materials as your original vehicle, they are essentially the same exact parts. Therefore, they are the best option to help your vehicle maintain its value for longer.

They maintain safety and other standards of the original vehicle. The original manufacturer helped set and adhered to the original safety standards of the vehicle. Using OEM parts on your vehicle will help maintain the original safety standards. The same applies to things like fuel efficiency, assuming that the vehicle is maintained according to the manufacturer’s requirements.

OEM parts may come with a warranty. In some cases, OEM parts come with a limited warranty, usually, one year. A dealership may also stand by their labor.

You know what you’re getting. If you’re happy with your original vehicle, OEM parts might be right for you. There is usually only one option. You’ll know that the parts you’re using to replace your old ones are going to be the same. They will fit, they will work with your vehicle properly, and they will help maintain the value and standards that your car previously held and met. However, aftermarket parts that may be made on different machinery or with different materials can either be of higher or lower quality in many ways. It takes some research to find out which aftermarket parts are right for you.

The debate between using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts and aftermarket parts to repair vehicles post-collision has been going on since the states stopped requiring collision repair shops to use OEM parts. Most debaters are concerned about either the cost or the safety of using one over the other.

Insurance companies often push for non-OEM parts, which can cost half as much. Vehicle owners, on the other hand, are more concerned with safety and high quality parts, and may push for original equipment manufacturer parts. Just over half of states require the repair shop to disclose to the vehicle owner when the parts are non-OEM, but is one better than the other?

Aftermarket Parts

Aftermarket parts are parts that were not made by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Some manufacturers make replacement car parts that are as good as or better than the original parts, and some make low quality parts.

Federal administrations, like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have safety regulations for many aftermarket car parts, and states are free to create additional regulations.

A lot of collision repair shops use aftermarket parts. They can often be much less expensive than OEM parts, but in some cases, it’s important to inquire about the quality of the parts. It is in the best interest of a collision repair shop to provide good advice because unhappy customers and shoddy repairs and parts leads to bad reviews and is bad for business.

Although variety in prices and availability of parts is great, aftermarket parts may not include a warranty.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Parts

OEM parts were made by a vehicle’s manufacturer, so they’re made to fit into a vehicle seamlessly. Dealerships are likely to use OEM parts, but collision repair shops may offer both, and it may take longer to get original equipment manufacturer parts.

While OEM parts are generally more expensive than aftermarket parts, they are also guaranteed to fit into a vehicle, including meeting the same safety standards as the original vehicle. That doesn’t mean they’re superior to aftermarket parts, they are simply the same as the original parts.

Which is Better, OEM or Aftermarket?

Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you have time for a little research, knowledge of your car, or you are on a budget, it’s best to speak with your collision repair shop and find a quality aftermarket part. When you’re simply looking for a part that fits your vehicle, you’re willing to spend a little more, or you want to maintain the value of your vehicle, an OEM part is likely better.