May Car Keeping Tip 17: Shopping for Auto Parts

Shopping for auto parts, particularly for imported cars, can be a daunting experience when you aren’t familiar with the differences between brands. Let’s clarify a few misconceptions so you are not tempted to buy inferior aftermarket parts that may do more harm than good. This can lead to major, more costly repairs!

Auto Parts

OES (Factory), OEM and OE Car Parts

Original Equipment Supplied (OES) and Original Equipment Manufactured (OEM) are often the same thing. Original Equipment (OE), is a more general term referring to the brand originally installed in the car. Automobile companies assemble cars using parts purchased from various suppliers. That means that the factory part available from the dealer is usually manufactured by a different company, sold to the auto maker who supplies the dealer, so the dealer can eventually sell the part to you. You can either buy the part and install it yourself or have the dealership install it for you. In most cases the dealer will try to encourage you to let them install it. Most of their profits come from labor charges.

Dealer Only Parts

If you have ever needed to replace a part on a new car and found there are no aftermarket replacement parts available for your new car, then you are not alone! Due to licensing laws and agreements several years have to pass before OES and OEM companies can release OE parts into the aftermarket. By restricting the sale of these parts automotive companies have the chance to recoup tooling costs, increase repair revenues for their dealers and justify bigger OEM production runs that help keep their costs down. You might be irritated by dealer only parts, but it is in your best interest as far as your warranty goes. Using a part that is not approved by the manufacturer can void your warranty.

Aftermarket Parts vs OES/OEM Parts

A true aftermarket part is copied exactly from the original OE part. The general consensus is that aftermarket parts are inferior, cheaper and can do more damage than good. But, as aftermarket companies strive to make their mark in the automotive industry, many of their parts are actually better than OE parts. Car companies, especially lately, are doing everything they can to cut down on costs. Many times this means using inferior parts whenever possible. Aftermarket companies, on the other hand, specialize only in aftermarket parts, they aren’t concerned about selling cars. Therefore, they put more effort into producing a quality part at a reasonable price.

Always beware, though, not all aftermarket parts are equal. There are still a plethora of mass merchandisers specializing in cheap knock-offs. These are the guys that cater to consumers more interested in price than performance!

For help putting your new parts to use, check out these

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