Whether you take your car to the dealership when it needs something fixed or repair it yourself, you often have a choice between original equipment manufacture (OEM) replacement parts and third-party aftermarket parts. While the parts might look the same or very similar, there are often significant differences in what you get. Let's take a look at OEM vs. third-party parts and what these mean for your wallet and car.

OEM Parts

OEM parts come directly from the manufacturer. They match the original parts exactly because they come from the same source. 

OEM Parts Pros

  • Better quality: An OEM part will work exactly the same as the original that it's replacing. It's the same part that the manufacturer built the car with, so you can rest assured that it will perform the same.
  • Better warranty coverage: Most auto manufacturers back up their OEM parts with a warranty, so if you have an OEM part replaced at the dealership, it will often back up the labor as well. This means that if the new part goes wrong after the dealership installs it, you can bring the car back and have it repaired for free.

OEM Parts Cons

  • Higher price tag: OEM parts are usually more expensive than aftermarket parts. In some cases, it can cost as much as 60% more than a third-party part.
  • Must purchase at the dealership: OEM parts are often only available at dealerships, which is part of the reason why they are more expensive. You can sometimes find OEM parts through online wholesalers or marketplace websites, but there is no guarantee with these. 
  • Quality is not always better: OEM parts are usually more expensive than aftermarket ones, so you expect them to work better. However, this is not always the case, as some aftermarket parts perform just as efficiently.

Third-Party Parts

Third-party parts are also known as aftermarket parts. These come from a source other than the manufacturer. Many companies design and manufacture parts that will function the same as the original, and often, they're just as efficient. If the parts are a direct replacement for the original, they will not void your warranty in most cases. Still, you may want to check with your manufacturer before using aftermarket parts for a replacement.

Third-Party Parts Pros

  • Less expensive: Aftermarket parts are usually cheaper than OEM parts, although the amount of money you can save depends on the part and brand. Using aftermarket parts gives you the option to shop around and find the best price.
  • Similar quality as OEM: Many aftermarket parts work just as well as their OEM counterpart.
  • More variety: Hundreds of companies sell aftermarket auto parts. You can find them at your local auto parts store or buy them online. 
  • Same kind of warranty coverage: Some aftermarket parts companies offer warranties on their parts.
  • Wider availability: If your dealership doesn't have the OEM part that you need in stock, you might have to wait until it's delivered before your car can be fixed. If an aftermarket part is unavailable at your usual supplier, you can go to another auto parts store and find it there. 

Third-Party Parts Cons

  • Quality depends on the company: You often get what you pay for, and if you get a bargain price for a third-party part, you might end up with an inefficient replacement. 
  • May not have a warranty: Not every company provides a warranty for their third-party parts. Lower-priced parts often have a bargain price because they don't come with a guarantee.
  • Too much choice: Too many options can sometimes make it more difficult to find the best part. If you're unfamiliar with a brand, you don't know what you may get. 

When To Choose OEM Parts vs. Third-Party Parts

The choice between OEM parts and third-party parts often comes down to the price, fit, and availability, and you don't always have much choice. If you have a newer car with more expensive parts or parts that are not in high demand, you may only be able to get OEM parts. 

On the other end of the spectrum, if you have an older car or a brand that is no longer in production, OEM parts may not be available or could be very hard to find. Dealers may not stock the OEM part you need, or only a few select shops around the country might stock it, which could result in significant repair delays. In this case, if you don't have time to wait, a third-party part might be your best option.

If you need body work or collision repairs done on your vehicle, OEM parts are the best choice. Aftermarket body panels may not fit correctly or have the same crumple zones as the original parts. If you don't get the OEM parts, you may be putting your safety at risk. OEM body parts are guaranteed to fit properly, and bodywork repairs at the dealership may also come with a guarantee.

Where To Get OEM vs. Third-Party Parts

Dealership service stations and collision centers will only sell OEM parts for their brand. They have no reason to offer their customers less expensive parts, but you'll always know what you're getting and can be confident that it will fit and perform like the original. Independent mechanics will sometimes offer you a choice between OEM and aftermarket parts. 

If you go to an independent repair shop that specializes in a specific type of vehicle, such as GMCs, it will likely have access to both OEM and aftermarket parts. These types of shops can often get the OEM parts faster and might even be able to get you used OEM parts, which can save you money. 

When you need parts for your vehicle, whether you choose OEM or third-party parts depends on your preference. Our service center at Tameron Buick GMC has a large selection of OEM parts in stock, so we can get your vehicle back on the road quickly and with the best quality parts available. 

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Categories: Parts