When people take their vehicle in for repair, most will ask for an estimate and then leave it at that, but it may be worth your while to dig a little deeper and inquire about the parts that will be used for your vehicle’s repair.

Auto repair shops have two main options when they order parts to replace the worn out or broken ones on your vehicle:

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer
LKQ – Like Kind and Quality, or Aftermarket

The above categories are not just application to fenders and bumpers, but cover almost every conceivable component of a car that can be replaced during a service or repair, including batteries, wheels, brakes, fenders, bumpers, oil filters, fuel pumps, hoses, and air filters.

Regardless of whether the repair is part of an insurance claim or not, you still have a choice about the parts going into your car. In most cases, it’s preferable to use the OEM versions if this is an option. These are the manufacturers own brand (or approved by them), which have been specifically designed to work most efficiently in your car, truck or van.

An OEM part will be stamped with a seal of approval from the manufacturer, and you can be sure they will fit the vehicle as good as they did when it first rolled off the factory floor. 

Like Kind and Quality (LKQ), most often Aftermarket, parts are often used as a way to save on cost. They refer to parts made by a different manufacturer than the vehicle producer. Some are higher quality than others, so it’s important to do some research if you are concerned that a cheaply built part is being used on your car. Many will come with a warranty from the manufacturer and can be just as good as OEM, so if done correctly, this can be a great option to save some money on your repair.

The biggest advantage for using aftermarket parts is the price, as they are most often substantially cheaper than the OEM versions. It also pays to keep in mind that aftermarket parts will usually have a significantly lower service life before failure, but this will depend on the manufacturer and the standards to which they adhere, as there are still many quality components available as aftermarket.

Another consideration to bear in mind when deciding on the types of parts you want used on your car repair is the warranty. OEM parts will often come with at least a 12-month warranty period, whereas aftermarket may or may not come with a warranty, depending on which one you choose. As always, it pays to use a quality service center that is upfront about the price they are charging and the parts they use. Never be afraid to ask questions when your vehicle is being repaired!

The Difference between OEM and Aftermarket Parts