When you’re looking to cut costs, it’s very tempting to choose the cheaper, white-label or after-market car parts, instead of the more expensive parts produced by, or for, your car’s manufacturer. These parts are known in the trade as OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts, but do you really get what you pay for?
OEM Parts Are Made For Your Car
Imagine you’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle and there is one piece that hasn’t been cut quite properly. It fits into the space, but not smoothly; it’s not a natural fit. If you buy a much cheaper, generic part for your car, you may find that it fits where it’s supposed to, but it’s not as if the pieces were made for each other. OEM parts are built to the exact spec for your make of car. Movable parts should move smoothly without clunking or creaking, and fixed parts should stay neatly in place. If you get your car fixed at a main dealership, they should use OEM parts, which is why they charge premium prices.
Some Generic Parts Are As Good If Not Better Than OEM Parts
If you actually broke down the car manufacturing process, you would discover that although the cars are put together in their manufacturer’s factory, many of the components are actually made by other companies in other factories and sent there for the assembly process. In some cases, the generic parts are actually made by the same manufacturer that makes the OEM parts. Bosch, for example, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of parts to the automotive industry. Other major manufacturers of OEM and aftermarket parts include Continental, Denso and Magna. When you buy an aftermarket car part from a brand that suppliers OEM parts, chances are you are getting an almost identical part sans the logo branding. In fact, in some instances, the supplier has taken on board problems with the original part and improved upon it, so you may actually be getting a superior part.
If you use unbranded parts to fix your car, you risk invalidating its warranty. If it’s still under warranty, it's worth checking the terms to see whether it's okay to use aftermarket parts without invalidating it. If this is the case, it’s worth paying extra and opting for OEM products. OEM parts themselves often come with their own warranty. Some, but not all, generic parts also provide this safety net.
If your car is a classic car, or has the potential to become one, it will be worth more if you can guarantee it has always been fixed with OEM parts. Of course, this is not always possible, in which case you have no choice but to seek generic alternatives. This is not an issue for cars destined for the scrapyard at the end of their useful life.