Who are the major car parts manufacturers
If you’ve ever gone shopping for car parts, you know there are a dizzying number of components sold by an equally incredible number of manufacturers. Which company should you trust with the future of your vehicle?
Predominant car parts suppliers vary somewhat by region, but generally the largest manufacturers include Denso, Robert Bosch, Magna International, Continental, Delphi and Lear, to name a few. Many big-name suppliers produce both OEM parts for popular cars, as well as after-market replacement parts for a variety of vehicles.
Even though the parts you get from the dealership come in boxes labelled with the brand insignia, it is likely that many of the parts originally installed in your car were made by a variety of third-party manufacturers each specialising in a specific component set. So when you’re looking to replace an old, damaged or worn vehicle component, which is better: OEM or after-market parts?
OEM and after-market car parts
Typically, when you take your vehicle to a dealership for repairs, they will almost certainly replace damaged components with OEM replacements. OEM stands for ‘original equipment manufacturer’, which means the parts you are getting are exactly the same as the equipment that came with your vehicle and come from the same car parts suppliers. Most parts on the market are not OEM components, however, and are referred to as ‘after-market’ parts.
After-market components are designed and manufactured to function in a car after its production, and are made by a wide variety of companies, with an equally broad variety of price tags. With such a vast selection, it can be difficult at times to decide which after-market part to install. If you take your car to an independent mechanic for a service, he will likely install after-market parts into your vehicle, as they tend to be less expensive.
So which should you choose?
OEM parts are generally more expensive than after-market parts. The higher cost is a trade-off for reliability – when you buy OEM parts, you know what the quality will be, and often these parts are covered by a warranty period. After-market parts, on the other hand, while generally less expensive, also vary widely in their level of quality. The general rule ‘you get what you pay for’ applies here, as there are assuredly a large number of cheap after-market parts that are of significantly lower quality than many OEM versions.
However, it is also possible to find after-market parts that were designed as a substantial and deliberate improvement over original automobile equipment, and will actually function better and longer than OEM parts. When deciding which to choose, consider the opinion of a trusted service professional. Also, think about whether the OEM part in question exhibited satisfactory performance to begin with. If the component is part of a critical system such as the engine, transmission or brakes, selecting OEM parts is a safe decision. Finally, when in doubt, be sure to select a reputable car parts supplier.