OE vs. OEM vs. Aftermarket: Which Auto Lights Should You Buy?

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If you have ever done research about car parts on the internet or asked around, you may have come across some terms. These are OE, OEM, and aftermarket. 

For a novice car person, it’s OK not to know the lingo car enthusiasts throw around. But this is different. These three terms are something that you should know. The reason is that you may have to end up deciding between them at some point. If you pick the wrong part, you may end up regretting it later. 

So, let’s get right into the meaning of these terms. Then, let’s dive into some must-know details. 

Original Equipment (OE)

An Original Equipment part is a part that was fitted in your car during the production process.

These are the original parts and come in the branded packaging of the automotive brand. They also have official part numbers. 

However, they are typically manufactured by another specialist company. This manufacturer is called the OEM. 

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

As previously discussed, the Original Equipment Manufacturer is the company that manufactures the OE parts for a particular vehicle brand. 

However, a single vehicle brand, like Mercedes, has more than one OEM to supply the parts and assemblies they use for the manufacturing of their vehicles. You can easily find out with a quick online search who the approved and accredited suppliers are for your car’s brand. 

Many of the OEM’s not only make parts for the manufacturers, but also the consumers. Since they are generally well-known among the consumers of the brand to which they supply their products, they sell them under their own brand name. These parts are identical to the OE parts. 

The only difference between these parts and OE parts is the different packaging and part numbers. Along with a lower price tag. However, they are not classified as official because the manufacturer does not supply them.

On the other hand, car brands sometimes use the OEM names as their official OE part fitment. It is generally because the OEM already has an excellent reputation, and their products are highly desired.


Unlike the OE and OEM, aftermarket parts have no relation to the official car manufacturer brands. This can be broadly applied to any other replacement part manufacture in the markets.

Generally speaking, these products are much more readily available to you. When you go to any gas station or any car mechanic, they will have a large stock of these products because they are much cheaper than the OEM or OE parts.

The main appeal of these parts is that they are cheaper in comparison. Otherwise, everybody would be buying OE or OEM parts for their vehicles. 

On the other hand, the same doesn’t apply when you talk about upgrades or modifications. The OEs and OEMs mostly supply replacement products. These are the ones exactly the same as the parts on your car right now. 

The aftermarket part suppliers give you lower quality replacement parts and also performance upgrade or modification products. 

Choosing Between OE, OEM, and Aftermarket Parts

To make this decision, you need to look at the category which your desired part falls under. You should also consider the quality, price, and warranty of the part you’re purchasing. 

Auto Body

When you look at the OEM or OE parts for auto body repairs, your car should look and work exactly like it did when the original piece was in good shape. The reason is that it’s basically a brand new version of the same product. 

The same can’t be said about aftermarket parts. While some aftermarket items may be alright for auto body replacements, many aren’t nearly as good. It’s because there is a wide range of qualities. They may not have the same level of protection, finish, or fit that the original part had on your car.

If your insurer is paying for the part’s replacement, they may prefer aftermarket to the original one. This decision is entirely based on the price. Your insurer is just looking to save money. In those cases, talk to them and pay the difference in the price. An OE or OEM part should be much better. 


If you’re also looking for mechanical parts or if you ever do in the future, you may find it more challenging to decide between OE or OEM and aftermarket. The reason is that these OE or OEM parts are generally much more expensive than your auto body ones. 

To decide between mechanical parts, first ask your mechanic. They may give you a much better picture of the specific part you’re referring to in terms of aftermarket and OEM. You should also do some online searches and look up reviews. 

Before you make a decision, ensure the part has a reasonable warranty and went through proper inspection.  

Conclusion: Which Auto Lights Should You Purchase?

When you’re in the market for headlights, tail lights, or any other types of automotive lights, you need to assess the situation. 

If you’re looking for lights to replace the ones your vehicle currently has, you should be looking for OE or OEM lights. You can go for used or brand new, depending on your budget for the lights. 

However, you will have to look at aftermarket products if you want to get a little creative and make something unique. 


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