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Aftermarket vs. OEM parts

Is there a rule of thumb for deciding when to buy original equipment parts as opposed to aftermarket? I’ve heard Tom and Ray say many times that aftermarket brakes are not a good idea. Our car needs a new bumper. Is there a list of parts that are usually OK to buy as aftermarket?

Secondly, is there a way to determine that the part used is original equipment?

In my opinion, engine parts and body parts have different guidelines.

What kind of vehicle is it? Give us the year, make, model, and odometer reading.

Today, in many cases, the “aftermarket” part is coming from the same manufacturer that made the original…With original equipment parts, you get known quality…With aftermarket, you gamble a little, but save a few bucks…

We talked about this at lenght last year. If you use search you will see many viewpoints.

Your situation is dealing with a bumper. I would look over the part and judge and it would not matter to me if it carried a OEM tag. Different parts I have different views.

I don’t think there is a rule of thumb. Note first that the replacement parts bought a dealer parts departments are sometimes produced by the same manufacturer as the original. You can take bigger chances on quality if the part is easy to get to and replace again. You can go to a board specific for the vehicle in question and see what people’s experience is.

Often, aftermarket bumpers do not fit properly.

I re-fit my fair share of OEM bumpers,in fact I re-fit more than my fair share,they did not pay much. Amazing how many people bring their trucks (always trucks) in for bumper fits.

When I bought my 84 S-15 it didn’t come with a bumper. I could have bought a OEM bumper from GMC for about $300…I ended up buying a after market bumper. The OEM bumper at the time was made of plastic or fiberglass…anything but steel. The after market bumper was made of steel. Glad I bought the aftermarket bumper. Fit PERFECT.

I’ve NEVER had a problem with GOOD aftermarket parts. I’ve had some problems with the cheap parts. I don’t know why Tom and Ray say NOT to use aftermarket brake parts. There are good aftermarket brake companies like Wagner.

Things like spark-plugs and filters are a no brainer…Aftermarket ONLY. And I’m NOT saying the junk like split-fire. Most Asian vehicles use NGK or Denso plugs as their OEM supplier. GM - AC…Ford -Motorcraft…Many European - Bosch.

Find a good local parts supplier (if you have one). I’ve had problems with the national chains like ADAP or Pepboys. But we have several local auto parts stores to choose from. Some are BIG…they have 10-20 stores in the area with a HUGE Warehouse local. Never had to wait more then 48 hours for a part and their parts are EXCELLENT quality.

The car is a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid.

If your getting body parts such as bumper covers, fenders, and hoods, after market CAPA certified body parts should be ok. As a matter of fact most insurance companies specify CAPA parts for most repairs.

I have a car that got repaired several years ago by the other drivers insurance company using CAPA certified hood, and fenders. The fitment of the parts was better then factory originals, and no problems with rust or paint to this day.

I balked at the insurance for using these parts, but at the end of the day the parts were good.

    CAPA certified

There is no rule of thumb. For most mechanical parts, new aftermarket parts may or may not be just as good as the original. For example, NGK spark plugs for Toyotas are the same as the plugs that came with it…NGK is one of the only two vendors approved by Toyota for spark plugs for their assembly lines…while Champions in a Toyota will leave you wondering what went wrong.

For some aftermarket parts, for older vehicles, rebuilt parts are the way to go. You would fall off your chair if you heard the price of a brand new steering rack for even a 1991 car, for example. That’s if one was still available.

Body parts vary greatly. I’ve had perfect aftermarket replacement parts from the VIP “crash catalog”, but real junk from the Autozone supplier.

What year is the car?

I would feel safe with an aftermarket front bumper on that vehicle. Just make sure you get it professionally installed in case there are any integrated safety systems like airbag sensors inside of it (which should be purchased separately, and I would want those to be OEM). You will pay a lot more for an OEM bumper, and both are made of molded plastic.

Well for body parts, using OEM or junkyard parts, you are assured that they will fit properly. This is especially important on a hood where the latch must be properly adjusted for safety. For bumper covers if that’s what you are talking about, I’ve seen identical after-market to OEM. The Colonel is one brand that was perfect. Just depends on the price on other parts and how new the car is.

Thanks to everyone who posted replies. They are very helpful.