Last week, we sought to define one of the most important, if not overlooked, segments of the automotive industry: the aftermarket. Simply put, an aftermarket part is any component that is not in or on the original vehicle. Recognizing that the aftermarket represents a $36 billion industry, today we will look at both the pros and cons of purchasing parts for a vehicle through the aftermarket.
Likely, the most attractive aspect of an aftermarket part is its affordability. The price of parts from an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) are typically fixed, while the freedom of the aftermarket allows a consumer to shop around. The aftermarket also allows a consumer to search through a wide variety of parts. This is where the fun can begin – instead of choosing from the limited selection offered by the OEM, aftermarket customers can let their imaginations soar by picking customized parts. Through the aftermarket, consumers can show off their individuality and creativity.
Aftermarket parts are more readily available than OEM parts. Whereas OEM parts need to be purchased directly from the manufacturer, aftermarket parts can be found just about anywhere, including the internet, gas stations, and repair shops. Many OEM parts are only available at a dealership.
However, one of the often cited variables of purchasing an aftermarket part is the wide range of quality. According to Edmunds, “Some aftermarket parts are inferior because of the use of lower-quality materials. Stick with aftermarket brands you’re familiar with or are recommended by a mechanic you trust, even if these parts cost a bit more.” Additionally, some aftermarket parts may not come with a warranty, while OEM parts often will.
When choosing whether to purchase parts from the aftermarket or OEM, Edumunds offers this advice, “If you’re familiar with a number of brands or work on your own car, aftermarket parts can save you a lot of money. If you’re not familiar with aftermarket brands, prefer to have everything done at the dealership, and don’t mind paying a bit extra for that peace of mind, OEM is a good choice for you.”
The aftermarket presents the consumer with a bevy of potential upgrades and cost savings, but little in the way of information and guidance. If an automaker actively cultivates a relationship with the aftermarket, the consumer can enjoy the best of both worlds. Automakers know their vehicles better than anyone and by inviting and encouraging the aftermarket, the consumer can save money while customizing their vehicle to their personal preferences. The aftermarket should no longer be an afterthought. If automakers and the aftermarket work together, consumers can finally build their perfect vehicle.