The most confusing piece of the GM parts and accessories puzzle is the tags of OEM and Aftermarket if you are completely new to this game. Most manufacturers put out those terms without thinking about who actually knows what they are talking about when they use those tags. The honest thing to say here is that you should know the difference but the only way you are going to know if someone stops you and tells you the difference. Marketing is not very useful if you cannot understand the context of the terms being used to market to you. The use of OEM and aftermarket as key terms is one of those areas where it will not make sense unless you know what those terms mean in the first pace. Where will you find the answers to those burning questions? We will tell you what the two terms mean so that you can make and educated decision on which one to buy.
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First let us talk about OEM, which might be the more confusing of the two terms for two reasons. First off, OEM is an acronym and it may or may not make a sense to you unless you have some context to make an educated guess. OEM stands for original manufacturer made. You may feel like you understand the term from that one definition, however, the automobile industry uses this terminology differently than other industries.
OEM actually means that the original manufacturer makes the part or accessory you want. You may think that means that the name of the company that your car, truck, SUV, van, or whatever you might have is the original manufacturer of that part. It is an incorrect assertion. The real answer is that the maker of your vehicle likely used another party to make the part or accessory in your vehicle, therefore, they are the original manufacturer. It is important to mention that the car/truck/SUV/van maker holds them to certain standards, which is a very good thing for you. You receive the quality you expect when you buy the part.
Aftermarket is named such because the maker of the part has nothing to do with the vehicle manufacturer until after the vehicle is marketed and sold to you. The problem with this type of part is that the standards the vehicle maker has set for the vehicle are not enforced. The truth is that the quality of the product varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The validity and efficacy of the item depends on the company who makes that product. You can expect a wide range of quality and you never know what you will get until you actually receive the item and start using it
OEM vs. Aftermarket
What is the big difference here? The big difference is the standardization between the two types of products. OEM products have a set standard that your vehicle manufacturer set forward. Aftermarket parts may have standards that they set, however, they would be standards set by the company itself. If you are looking for parts that will be quality and fit your vehicle from the get go then you are going to want to use OEM parts.