There are all kinds of replacement parts available for your car. This article is to help you understand the differences between different types of parts that may be available so you can decide on the part that is right for your needs. Know that there is a time and place for choosing each of the below part types, so education is really key when parts shopping.
An OE part is an Original Equipment part. It is one that is installed on the car when it is first assembled in the factory. Technically, you cannot buy an OE part as new unless you are getting a new car.
OER, OE Replacement Parts
Any part you buy for the car, no matter what it is, is considered “aftermarket” from a manufacturer’s perspective. To the rest of us, replacement parts are‚Ä¶replacements for other parts! Any part that is installed to replace an originally installed part is a replacement.
As replacement parts go,¬†Genuine is number one. If there are 50 identical parts and 20 of them are installed on new cars at a factory, the other 30 go into a box and are sold as replacements. These are Genuine parts. New genuine parts come in manufacturer’s branded packaging. When you go to a Honda dealer to buy parts, you are expecting Genuine; “Genuine Honda” is written right on the box (even if you have an Acura! Most of your Genuine Acura parts say Honda on them as well).
Genuine parts are generally regarded as the best you can get for the car. If you are restoring a car, you really should be sticking with Genuine. Aside from an original equipment part swapped over from another car,¬†you can’t get more original than genuine.
The confusing thing is, most people will call Genuine parts “OEM,” when really that isn’t quite accurate.
Of course, not everyone is restoring their car, and often times the expense of Genuine parts is hard to justify. That’s where enthusiasts will usually turn to OEM parts for their maintenance and repair items.
OEM means Original Equipment Manufacturer. If Original Equipment is a part that came on the car when it was originally made, the OEM is the company that made that part. A company such as Honda does not internally manufacture every part on their cars. Honda may outsource many items to other vendors and then install these parts on cars on the assembly line.¬†Manufacturers that produce parts for original equipment installation are called OEM or OE Suppliers (OEMs for short).¬†Effectively, an OEM part becomes a “Honda” part, even though Honda did not make it themselves.
There are many OEMs in the world. The fit, quality, and reliability of an OEM part is expected to be the same as a Genuine part, but usually, OEM parts are available at a lower cost than Genuine parts. Nobody is ever going to look down on you for buying an OEM part.¬†But please do understand, if you want a part that comes in a Honda or Acura package, the “genuine article” so to speak, you need to specify Genuine parts; not OEM parts.¬†Your concourse judging may suffer!
“Wait, I thought “OEM” meant…the real deal, like, from the dealer.”
You only thought that because of marketing. The term “OEM” has been used so much by OEMs, and so effectively labeled as “the same as a genuine part,” that this has become common knowledge. People assume OEM is the same as genuine! But it is not. The terms are so closely related we decided to call our Genuine parts store “Heeltoe Genuine OEM Parts.” We even needed to put OEM in the url, (oem.heeltoeauto.com), because people “know” what OEM is.*
OE Replacement Parts or Aftermarket Replacement
If you were reading above, thinking that OEM sounded almost like “aftermarket,” you are right. In Heeltoe terms, anything not OE or Genuine is Aftermarket. To the makers of the car, anything bought for the vehicle after it was originally made, is aftermarket.** To the general parts person or enthusiast,¬†aftermarket parts are made by companies who are not OEMs. Stuff you get at average parts stores are usually aftermarket.
While aftermarket parts are suitable replacements for the average user, the aftermarket belt may have a different load rating, fray differently on the edges, have a different service life, or vary more in length. OEM suppliers are forced into consistent production and quality value. It is the general preference not to stray from Genuine or OEM parts unless there is a really tight budget or no need to invest in the car more than necessary to keep it going.
Not to speculate, but aftermarket parts may generally carry a more questionable quality. It may not be critical on every application, but enthusiasts will not really prefer to use aftermarket parts unless there is a performance advance to them…we’ll cover performance aftermarket in another blog.
* People will call me and ask if such and such a part I am about to sell them is “OEM,” and I say “It’s better than OEM; it’s Genuine.” But, somehow that tosses them off and they don’t believe they are getting a factory part. It’s baffling…but, that’s a paradigm for you. Part of what this article is about is to educate people on what “Genuine” means. Ironically, the part you want, the one that says “Honda” on it, also says “genuine!”
** This is really just another play on wording. The term “aftermarket” can be broken into “after” and “market.” “Market” meaning, available to buy somewhere, and “after” meaning after the fact…after the manufacturing of the car. A part is generally either originally installed or aftermarket. Even Genuine Replacement parts are technically aftermarket parts from many OE perspectives.