Type Of Replacement Part

Consumer Automotive Research

Genuine, OEM or Aftermarket Parts

When a part fails on your car and needs to be replaced, what type of replacement part offers the best value and quality? Knowing the different types of parts available, and when to select the proper type, can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Car Manufacturers Don’t Manufacture Cars

Contrary to popular belief, the car you bought was not made entirely by the car company you bought it from. It was essentially just put together by the car company from parts made by hundreds of other companies. All car makers use independent companies to design and manufacture most parts used in their cars.

What Are the Different Types of Parts

Replacement parts are categorized by either who made them or how they are sold to you. The categories are:


A Genuine part is the part that was originally put in your car when it was new. It comes in a box with the car maker’s logo so you will think your car manufacturer made it. It was actually made by another company. These are the most expensive types of parts you can purchase mainly because you are paying for the logo.

The only time to use a Genuine part is if it’s still under warranty and you don’t have to pay for it. Would you pay $26 out-of-pocket for wiper blades just because your car logo is on the box or pay $12 for an aftermarket set that actually perform better? The same theory goes for just about any part on your car.

Most people believe they must use a genuine part or they will void their warranty. Even though car makers try to give the impression that if you don’t use their parts, you are getting an inferior part and it will void your warranty. This is simply not the case. The Federal Trade Commission stepped in and issued a consumer alert stating “The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for companies to void your warranty or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you used an aftermarket or recycled part”. Also, you cannot void your warranty by having maintenance or repairs done somewhere other than the dealership, or even doing them yourself.

One note about manufacturer warranties is they do not have to use new genuine parts, or even new parts for that matter, and most of the time they don’t. Your manufacturer’s warranty will state that it is their decision as to what type of part they can use.


OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This part was built by the company that originally made it for the car company. It is the exact same part that came in your car. It simply doesn’t have the car maker’s logo on it. These are the exact same as genuine parts but are a much better value.

If your car is less than 3 or 4 years old select an OEM part when the repair is not covered under warranty and you have to pay for it yourself. You will get the exact same part that was originally in your car for a better price than the genuine part.


Aftermarket parts are made by a company other than the original manufacturer. These parts are made to fit and perform as well as, and in some cases better than the original.

Aftermarket companies buy the rights to produce these parts. Even though some might have a slightly different look, they perform as well as, if not better than the OEM part. And they are priced much less making them a very good value.

In some cases an aftermarket part is better than the original that came in your car. Aftermarket companies analyze why specific OEM parts tend to fail and then improve on the original design or materials. Car makers are very interested in keeping the price of their cars competitive and may opt for less expensive materials in some parts. This is why some aftermarket parts may out perform the original.

If your car is older than 3 or 4 years, an aftermarket part is the better choice. It certainly will be less expensive, and may perform even better than the original part.

Rebuilt or Remanufactured

A rebuilt or remanufactured part is essentially a used component that was completely taken apart and fitted with new parts. It is then tested to ensure it performs as well as a new part.

Usually when a component fails it’s because of a few internal parts that wear. The rest of the component is still perfectly fine, so it is less costly just to replace the worn parts. Rebuilt parts are an extremely good value and will perform the same and last as long as the original.

If your car is a little older or has higher miles, a rebuilt part is a good option. This is especially true when it comes to replacing larger more expensive components such as the engine or transmission. It simply doesn’t make financial sense to put a brand new engine or transmission in a 100,000 mile car. You will never get the value back out of it. A rebuilt engine or transmission would be the better option.

Refurbished or Reconditioned

Refurbished or reconditioned parts are used parts that have been cleaned and maybe a few external components replaced like nuts and bolts or gaskets. These are very inexpensive compared to new parts. However, they are used parts and do have some level of wear.

Used or Recycled

Recycled is just the new term for a used part. A used part is a good alternative when your car is older or has very high miles. They are also very good choices for parts that don’t wear such as door handles, trim, glass, moldings or body parts. Used parts are the least expensive you can buy but they do have some level of wear already and will not last as long as a new or rebuilt part.

Never select a used part when it comes to safety. This would be any brake, steering or suspension part.

What Type of Part Should I Be Using

As a general rule of thumb, if you have a car under 3 or 4 years old an OEM part is a good choice. After 3 or 4 years, OEM or aftermarket parts are the best option. With older cars, aftermarket and rebuilt if you intend on keeping the car much longer, otherwise refurbished or used.

If you have a very old higher mileage car, be realistic. There really isn’t much value in the car and keeping it on the road as least costly as possible is the goal. Never use a high priced genuine part.

-Consumer Automotive Research