Article written by Scott Mason from chicmoto.com
As a mechanic, should you use OEM parts or aftermarket parts as your go-to choice for your automotive repair shop?
Your reputation as an auto repair professional is on the line every time you recommend replacement parts for your customers. Here’s what you need to know about OEM vs aftermarket parts so you can properly educate your customers about car parts and how to choose them.
Let’s start with some definitions from a customer’s perspective.
What Are OEM Car Parts?
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are the exact parts that were installed in a vehicle when it rolled off the auto maker’s assembly line. When your customer says, “I want an official, brand name, factory, real, licensed, or dealer parts” chances are, they’re referring to OEM. If your customer needed to get their own parts, here’s what they’d run into if they chose to go this route.
It’s easy to of select or identify the right auto part. They won’t need too many specs other than the year, make, model, and trim level (or simply the VIN number).
OEM parts carry a standard auto manufacturer’s warranty. That makes it easy for someone to handle a warranty claim on an individual part in the same way as their vehicle warranty.
All OEM parts are created equal, even those manufactured by the official equipment suppliers.
*** PRO TIP: Many people think standardization leads to better quality, but that’s not always the case with auto parts. Here’s why. First, automakers strike a balance between performance and price. Meaning that they keep manufacturing costs down to parts that provide average to good performance. Second, they outsource production to original equipment suppliers. While these OES suppliers adhere to the auto manufacturer’s strict specifications for creating factory parts, there are always variables in the production process that can reduce the quality of OEM replacement parts.
Aside from color, OEM parts don’t offer the option to customize or upgrade. Since they’re designed to restore the vehicle to factory condition, OEM replacement parts aren’t available in varieties that alter the original design or performance.
What Are Aftermarket Car Parts?
Aftermarket parts are made by companies other than auto manufacturers or their suppliers. When your customer says, “I don’t want third-party, generic, off-market, or store-brand parts” most likely, they mean aftermarket. Here’s what your customer could expect if they buy aftermarket.
• Less expensive
Not to be confused with “cheaper”. Aftermarket parts are more cost-effective for you and the customer, especially when the quality is similar to the factory part.
***PRO TIP: According to a study by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, OEM costs can be as much as 60% higher than aftermarket parts. That’s why insurance companies favor them for collision and accident repairs.
There are more aftermarket parts manufacturers than you can keep up with. Shopping becomes a daunting task for an individual looking to make a one-time parts purchase. There may be 5-10 aftermarket options for every OEM part, meaning there’s a lot of variability in price and quality. Your customer will need to know a lot more about performance specs to make a wise choice of aftermarket parts.
OEM and Aftermarket Parts for Your Repair Shop
When it comes to deciding between OEM and aftermarket parts for standard auto repairs, auto customizations, and auto performance upgrades you’ll need to evaluate them in terms of price, quality, variety, and availability.
If your shop does more standard repairs and auto maintenance, you’ll want to use low-cost parts that deliver consistent quality and performance. Depending on the types of vehicles you work on most often, you can find both OEM and aftermarket parts that will serve your purpose.
If your customers are looking for better vehicle performance after your repairs, you’ll want to try moderately priced performance parts.
This is where you’ll need to do more research on aftermarket manufacturers. Read product reviews and experiment with different products in your shop.
Time is money, and sometimes it boils down to who can get the parts in your shop the soonest.
Auto Parts Buying Advice for Mechanics
Both OEM and aftermarket parts have an appointed time and place in your repair shop. Which is best to use in your auto repair shop depends on what you need to accomplish or what problem you need to solve for your customer. To keep your auto repair business growing, choose auto parts like you would employees – only the best for the job at hand.
Scott Mason is a writer for chicmoto.com, an automotive blog. His love of cars led him to find a job as a writer for an automotive blog. He hopes to one day own a ’70 Dodge Challenger and drive from the East Coast to West Coast.