OEM Vs Aftermarket Parts - What are the differences?

 

As an automotive parts retailer, we get a lot of questions regarding the definition of "OEM" and what that means about a particular part. You'd think this is a straight-forward question, dilemma is, folks use the term many different ways.

Let's first start out with some potential synonyms which you may see. These include OES, OEM, Original, Genuine for example. OES (Original Equipment Supplier) is usually the same thing as OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). We produce a distinction between these two and Genuine i will explain later.

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First, let's discuss how parts are provided and delivered on a vehicle when new. Manufacturers usually do not make parts themselves, but rather they sub against each other to specialty manufacturers like Brembo, Lemfoerder, VDO etc. When BMW uses a new control arm for his or her latest car, they get the design and then hire a supplier like Lemfoerder to really make the part for them. In such cases, Lemfoerder is the OEM/OES for this part. The part is distributed to BMW, and so they put the part on when manufacturing the automobile.

Once a car hits the streets, and will that part need replaced, there are a few alternatives for folks typically available. First, they are able to go to their dealer, and get a "Genuine" part, that is a part manufactured by the OEM, but supplied using the dealer supply chain. The various will have a perfect fit as they were built to precisely the same specs as the new parts by the same manufacturer.

As a second option, they can seek out the part inside the aftermarket space as an OEM. This is the identical part as the Genuine, hardly in a box labeled from the auto manufacturer. Sometimes these are in OEM branded boxes, sometimes they're white boxed. This is sometimes is due to contracts in which the manufacturers are prohibited from distributing under their name from the auto manufacturers. Buying these parts when available can save sometimes 50%-70% off the dealer price.

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The very last option is to find the product within the aftermarket. In this space, manufacturers attempt to create a part that'll be a direct replacement for the first part, and they can be found in varying levels of quality. This is the most difficult area to assess a particular item. There is such a variety of aftermarket items which range from parts which might be far superior to the OEM unit, to those that many times will not even install properly. It is advisable to stick with major manufacturers when going this route. It's not intended to steer folks away from this potentially lucrative option. There are lots of quality aftermarket parts found through the entire product lines. Many of these are produced by other primary suppliers on the auto manufacturers. By way of example, BMW typically uses ZF and LUK as manufacturers of steering pumps because of their cars. One particular manufacturer wins the bid for the specific model, but that doesn't stop the other from reproducing the same item and selling it exclusively within the aftermarket.