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.