What does OEM and Aftermarket mean?

In collision repair, old parts that are damaged must be replaced with new ones. This is one way a damaged car is fixed.

There are 3 different kind of parts that replace the damaged one. Each one being used can really affect the quality of the repair. The three types are: 1. OEM 2. Aftermarket 3.LKQ

OEM: The first kind is Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEM parts are created specifically for your vehicle by the original manufacturer of your vehicle. So, if you drive a Ford then the OEM part would come from Ford. Using OEM means that the part should function exactly as the part you are replacing, and provides a quality fit and function.

Aftermarket: Aftermarket parts are made by anyone other than the car’s maker. They could be a direct replacement or something to change how the car performs or looks. There is a wide range of manufacturers for these parts, and therefore a wide range of quality. An outside organization known as CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) test and monitor new aftermarket products. Aftermarket parts are the least expensive because they do not have to invest in research and development.

LKQ: LKQ stands for like, kind, and quality. These are recycled parts, and they vary greatly in quality and price. They are technically OEM, but can provide a lot of challenges due to previous damage or problems with paint matching.

When choosing a part, technicians are concerned with the 3 F’s:

Fit – This concerns with how well the part will latch on the car. Many parts must either click into place or be screwed in.


Function – The new part must do the same quality of work that the old part had before being damaged. A plus side is a new part can go above the quality of a new part if upgrading. The negative side if choosing a cheaper part might risk the quality of function.

Finish – This is to make sure that the part looks like it is a part of the car and not an added-on part that sticks out that sore thumb.

To be honest, most auto body professions prefer to work with OEM parts because they have met Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and frankly they fit better. But if price is an issue, your auto body professional will know of trusted aftermarket manufacturers to help keep repairs in budget.

Your insurance company may mandate that they will only pay for a certain kind of part, and in that case, you have some options. You could just accept the aftermarket part, or you may demand an OEM part and pay the difference.

As a consumer, you should always be aware of your options, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have other questions please check out our questions page or call us. To keep up with everything AMM follow us on Facebook or Twitter @ammcollisionctr.

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