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Understanding Auto Parts

Understanding Auto Parts

Most consumers don’t know what types of parts are in their cars, let alone spend time thinking about their condition. However, when the time comes for repairs and your garage offers you OE, OEM, aftermarket, or remanufactured parts, which should you go for? We will explain the different types of parts available and what you should be watching out for.

Genuine spare parts

Genuine spare parts are also known as original equipment (OE). OE parts are the components of the vehicle that made in the factory — all of the original parts that the car was first built with. They come in a car manufacturer branded box (ie. Toyota, Mercedes, etc.). They’re the safest option because you know what you’re buying will fit your car, and if your car is still under the maker’s warranty, it will remain valid.


Only one option: If you request a particular part at a dealership, you will receive the part that matches your vehicle; no need to worry about comparison shopping.

Quality assurance/warranty: You can be 100% certain that the OE part works identically to the one it’s replacing. You will normally receive a one-year warranty for these parts.


Price: OE parts tend to be more expensive than aftermarket parts.

Limited availability: OE parts are typically purchased at the dealership.

Replacement parts

Replacement parts are also known as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. OEM parts are made by an external company that supplied parts for a car maker. External automotive parts manufacturing companies have negotiated to sell the parts independently as part of its contract. The parts will be identical to OE parts, but they will come in a box with the name of the company that made it. For example, an OEM part for a Toyota car may come in a box with NAPA as the manufacturing company’s label, not the ‘Toyota’ car brand label. OEM parts are usually cheaper than OE parts, and you may be able to use them without invalidating the car’s warranty. 

Aftermarket parts

Aftermarket car parts are replacement parts for cars that are built by third-party manufacturers with a wide range of quality and prices. Some aftermarket parts are manufactured by reputable companies, while others are manufactured from questionable sources. As a basic check, make sure that parts have an ‘ISO International Organization for Standardization’ stamp or ask your trusted mechanic whether those parts are recommended for your vehicle. 


Price: Aftermarket parts are generally less expensive than OEM parts. Of course, an incredibly low price could also signal lower quality.

Variety: There are hundreds of companies that produce aftermarket parts. Some of those companies specialize in specific parts, while others make nearly every part needed for any make and model. More variety means greater selection and a wider range of prices.

Availability: Aftermarket parts are often readily available at your choice of independent shop. As long as you trust your auto technician to make good choices regarding quality, you can get the work done quickly.


Overwhelming choices: There are so many options for each part that you may feel overwhelmed. A trustworthy mechanic can help you narrow down the options to find high-quality aftermarket parts at the right price.

Warranty issues: Not all aftermarket parts come with a good warranty. Ask your mechanic to use only parts that come with a long-term warranty. You may pay slightly more, but the peace of mind is well worth it.

Remanufactured parts

To remanufacture means to make the part as close to new as possible. Remanufactured parts have been restored to the standard and quality of a new part. As an example, when an engine is remanufactured, every single component (except for the body) is replaced or rebuilt so that it meets OEM tolerance, quality and durability standards. These parts are typically more expensive than rebuilt or used parts. 

Rebuilt auto parts

Rebuilt auto parts only have the worn-out or damaged components of a part replaced, and the remaining working components are left in their current state. For instance, if a vehicle’s transmission is rebuilt, the torque converter and clutches may need to be replaced, while the original pumps, bands, valve body, etc. will be used if they are still functional. It’s important to note that because only some components are replaced in rebuilt parts, the components that are not replaced will most likely need to be replaced in the near future as well.

Salvaged parts

Otherwise known as used parts, these have come off scrapped cars. They’re the cheapest parts of the lot but unless you’re driving an old banger, you shouldn’t consider them. You don’t know how many miles they’ve covered or what condition they were in when they were taken off the donor car. Also, you don’t know how they’ve been stored. Very few salvage yards keep car parts somewhere that’s completely watertight, no matter how delicate they are.

The best way to ensure quality and safety is by installing products from full-service suppliers with the trusted name brands, who stand behind every part they make. These companies have invested countless dollars in research and development to build a brand reputation based on quality.

Often people forget that this is no can of beans: it is a critical component of your car, which is not only the second largest investment you have but also an important element in driving safety. There is no right or wrong answer to the question of OEM vs. aftermarket parts. Some people prefer to have all OEM parts in their vehicle and are willing to pay a premium for them. Others are cost-driven and will gladly accept the least expensive aftermarket parts. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, preferring to strike a balance between cost, convenience and quality. At Right Way Auto Repair, our auto technicians can steer you toward the best options for your situation.