Heeltoe Explains Universal Fit Blogging

What is the difference between OE, Genuine, OEM, and OER/Aftermarket Parts?

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.

OE Parts
Genuine Parts
OEM Parts
OE Replacement or Aftermarket Parts

OE Parts

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‚Ķreplacements for other parts! Any part that is installed to replace an originally installed part is a replacement.

Genuine Parts

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.

Shop Heeltoe Genuine Honda and Acura OEM Parts in our Heeltoe Genuine OEM Parts store!


OEM Parts

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 If Original Equipment is a part that came on the car when it was originally made, the OEM is the company that made that part.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, (, 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.

Chassis Universal Fit Blogging

When A-Spec and HFP Suspension Kits Are Discontinued, What To Get Instead?

Updated as of December 2017:

With the popularity of this posting, we have added the Koni STR.T Dampers and popular spring options as pre-built combos on Heeltoe! Find links to them here:

2004-08 TL:¬†Heeltoe Automotive “A-Spec/HFP Evo” Coil-Over Damper Set, 2004-08 Acura TL

2004-08 TSX:¬†Heeltoe Automotive “A-Spec/HFP Evo” Coil-Over Damper Set, 2004-08 Acura TSX

Updated as of December 2016:

Times are tough for the Honda/Acura Enthusiast looking for a conservative drop, comfortable ride, but highly enhanced driving experience. The A-Spec & HFP kits from Honda/Acura were awesome but short-lived, solutions with factory quality you could count on. Then the Neuspeed Supercup Kit was a fantastic option, and promptly itself became discontinued in 2015.

NOW what do you do if you long for that “factory sport package” feel in your Honda Accord, Acura TSX, TL, or other naturally sporting Honda sedan?

Heeltoe has settled on the “next-best” answer… Combine a set of Koni STR.T dampers with a set of Tein HighTECH springs.

Koni STR.T Damper:

Tein HighTECH (HTECH) Spring:

This high-quality combo offers the long stroke and long life of a Koni damper, with excellent body control balanced with proper damping to soak up everyday road hiccups. It also features a slightly firmer spring than stock, with minimal lowering range.

So while this is decidedly not an A-Spec kit it will function excellently and keep your Honda/Acura performing better than new for years to come!

– Marcus


Legacy Post from January 2016:

The Acura A-Spec and Honda Factory Performance suspension packages for popular Honda and Acura models are the perfect suspension tuning parts for the conservative enthusiast. But as they become unavailable, what is the next-best package?

What made the A-Spec kit great for people with a conservative performance goal in mind for both lowering and for sport, was that it utilized springs that were similar to stock in ride height and firmness. The dampers were better at controlling body motions. The combination was great for someone with worn factory suspension but was looking to replace the part with just a bit more athletic ability.

A last look at the much-loved Acura A-Spec Suspension package.

So, with the A-Spec kit gone…what is the conservative-minded enthusiast’s best bet for minimal lowering with great improvements in weight-transfer management and reduction in float as compared to stock suspension? And all that at a reasonable cost?

We would say, the Neuspeed Supercup Kit featuring German-made Sport springs and Sport/Yellow Shocks from Koni are the ticket!

For a little more of a lowering rate, the Neuspeed Supercup Kit is an A-Spec suspension on ‘roids.

Yes, there are a couple of compromises.

  1. The A-Spec kit came with new upper top-hat mounts pre-installed from the factory. Many viewed this as a great value feature, and the value was certainly there. Our counterpoint is that the upper mounts on these cars really do not wear from the factory. Replacement is something better done out of convenience rather than necessity (incidentally, does offer an Upper Mount Option on Neuspeed kits, as we know many customers do like replacing these parts oftentimes).
  2. While the Neuspeed Supercup Kit does come with a Race or Sport spring option, the Race is too aggressive for conservative drivers. The Sport is a great choice, however, the 1.5″ average lowering is a bit more than some drivers are looking for. holds that 1.5″ is a very reasonable lowering range for the average Honda or Acura. It is a compromise, but one worth considering.

Of course, if someone really did not want to lower their Acura but wanted all the sport and control benefit of an A-Spec kit, simply grab a set of Koni Sport replacement dampers!

The Koni Sport dampers do offer a relative degree of height adjustment, but more importantly, they have adjustable dampening. This allows a driver to tune in just the right amount of rebound for their particular tastes. Plus, as they wear, these dampers can be firmed up. They are extremely high quality, and with this tuning feature, can effectively last longer than most drivers will ever need them to.

Yes, the passing of the Acura A-Spec (and likewise, Honda Factory Performance) suspension kits is an unfortunate reality for enthusiasts. But thanks to Neuspeed and Koni, we are not without suitable alternative choices. is here to advise every customer on their specific needs, so don’t hesitate to¬†contact us¬†today for a consultation!