OEM Parts vs Knock-Offs: Does the Manufacturer Matter?

Many people swear by OEM parts. These are the ones made by the manufacturers who made the original parts for that make and model vehicle. The substitutes are made by other manufacturers.  These can save you money, and who doesn’t want to save that?

Yet many mechanics will tell you that OEM parts are important.  Certain car manufacturers are especially keen to get you to maintain your car with OEM parts.  Are they just trying to get a few extra dollars or is sticking with the original actually important?

Benefits of the Knock-Offs

Before going any further, it should be said that there are benefits to the knock-offs. If the repair is big, every bit saved will help make it more affordable. This is especially important if you are forced to put it on a credit card where the repair expense will accrue interest. 

Presumably the manufacturers who make the knock-offs would be out of business if their parts didn’t work.  Of course, it’s hard to know that since there is no data stream that follows these parts from their installation to their success or failure. There’s just no way to know, other than to trust these parts are worth it.

Benefits of OEM Parts

OEM parts are made to the specifications dictated by the car company.  Their reputation was riding on that part, and they demanded that it be made a certain way and a very specific size. Others can imitate that, but they are under no obligation to be as exacting in their testing or in the composition of the part.

Your warranty, if your car is still under one, may require that you use OEM parts.  Certain manufacturers, especially luxury makers, only offer OEM parts at their dealership, such as yoru Lexus service department.  This isn’t just a chance to charge more. It’s under the assumption that these OEM parts really will function better and last longer.

How to Decide Whether to Choose OEM Parts or Knock Offs

The age of your car is the first aspect in making a decision about OEM parts vs alternatives.  If you have a newer vehicle, you want OEM parts to help you maintain warranties and resale values.  If it is older, you may not want to pay full price.  After all, it may not matter if the part fails in three years when you will only be able to drive your old car for another 18 months before it gives up completely.

The make of your car also figures into your decision.  A less expensive car doesn’t need the most expensive part.  Luxury cars retain their value better if repairs are made with OEM parts. This should definitely figure into your decision making.

If your car is aging, but you want it to last as long as possible, you should use OEM parts for the most vital repairs. Perhaps the brake pads can be substitutes, but you want the radiator fan to be made by the original manufacturer. 

The final aspect to consider is performance.  Certain parts will make a difference when it comes to how well your car takes the road. If you are a driving enthusiast, you are likely to want the OEM parts for the best performance.

Author: Brandon Park