If you’ve taken your Toyota car for repair, you would probably remember the mechanic asking you which type of replacement component you would prefer to use for your vehicle. Would it be a genuine, or an OEM, or an aftermarket part? Is there a difference between the types?
When it comes to your car, you have to be sure about your decisions. Of course, there’s a difference between these terms, and you need to know it to avoid throwing good money for bad.
What are the different types or categories of replacement parts?
Replacement parts can be classified as genuine, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), or aftermarket parts. Some car owners may resort to using reconditioned or salvaged parts, but we won’t discuss those options here. In this article, we will focus on the three categories of unused replacement parts as described below.
1. Genuine parts – when your car rolls off from Toyota’s production lines, all of the parts that it comes with are called genuine Toyota parts. That’s not to mean, however, that every single component inside your car was manufactured by Toyota. For instance, the company can commission the production of its fuel injector to a third-party manufacturer, who does the actual production under the specifications and design required by Toyota.
In other words, the third party produces this product for Toyota, and it goes to the market with the name and guarantee of Toyota on it. It is what’s known in the motoring industry as a genuine Toyota part. If you buy this type of part, it will come in a box with Toyota markings.
2. OEM parts – in the same example given above, the third-party manufacturer may produce the same fuel injector, not only for Toyota but also for distribution to independent auto parts dealers. This fuel injector is called an OEM Toyota part because it was produced by the original manufacturer of this particular Toyota-design fuel injector.
As an OEM part, it will not carry the Toyota brand and will not be covered by Toyota’s warranty. It may, however, have a warranty from the manufacturer. It is technically the same component – in terms of quality and function – without Toyota branding.
3. Aftermarket parts – these are components made by manufacturers other than Toyota or the OEM as an inexpensive substitute to genuine or OEM parts. While aftermarkets are the cheaper alternative to the two other types, it’s not entirely correct to generalise them as inferior in quality.
Most aftermarkets buy the rights to acquire the template or pattern of the OEM, thus, enabling them to produce close-to-OEM or OEM-like parts. Some aftermarket components have also introduced improvements to flaws inherent to the design of the original—both genuine and OEM. In this case, it becomes not only the cheaper alternative but also, the better one.
Are the terms OE and OE-like the same as OEM?
The motoring jargon can be quite confusing to the uninitiated. No, the three terms don’t mean the same thing. Sometimes, it’s a marketing ploy. Often, people in the industry like to coin new words, repurposing them and making them evolve into new forms with new meanings. It helps if you’re familiar with some of these words.
- OE – or original equipment; it refers to the original Toyota equipment; thus, it’s the same as the genuine part.
- OEM – well, you already know this one; it refers to the same part made by the original maker for Toyota, without the price tag and the brand.
- OE-like or OEM-like – as the name suggests, it’s like the original equipment but not the same; it refers to aftermath parts; sometimes they’re also called pattern parts.
Pros and Cons of Genuine Toyota Parts
Genuine parts are the real McCoy, so to speak. From the materials used, construction, design, specs, and name, it is a Toyota-guaranteed original. It’s the same part used on your brand-new Toyota car several years ago, except that it is new and has never been used.
One obvious advantage is the warranty that comes with it. This assurance from Toyota is the ultimate stamp of quality and dependability. On the downside, it’s going to be the most expensive option for you. If the price is not important to you, though, then by all means, go for it.
Pros and Cons of OEM Parts
OEM parts, on the other hand, are technically the same as the original without Toyota’s tri-oval logo and the hefty price. From the economic and technical point of view, the OEM is the better deal between the two—genuine and OEM.
However, you will have to check your car’s insurance or warranty. Find out what’s written in the fine print—whether it requires that you use genuine Toyota parts only or it’s silent on that aspect. You don’t want to void an insurance claim or your car’s warranty simply because you chose the wrong category. A possible issue with OEM parts is the relative difficulty of obtaining them.
Also, it may not be all that easy to validate an OEM’s claim that they are indeed the original equipment manufacturer of a particular Toyota part. This requires due diligence on your part—meaning, you need to do research and ask for documents to prove that what you’re buying are indeed OEM Toyota parts.
Pros and Cons of Aftermarket Parts
Aftermarket parts are readily available. They are also significantly cheaper than the two other types. If your car is an older model—meaning there’s no worry about invalidating its Toyota warranty—then a good-quality aftermarket could be a wise choice.
The fact that an aftermarket part is not original or not produced by the original manufacturer makes it a risky buy. Don’t buy them on your own if you don’t know what to look for. Instead, you may ask for technical assistance from the car mechanic who services your car. It’s highly likely that he has repaired the same part before and would know where to find a reliable replacement.
All these differently-categorised parts serve one purpose—to take the place of the original part. They were not designed to fail, for sure, and each type has its share of good and bad. It’s your role to find the best replacement Toyota part that will work for your car.