Front Brake Pads and Brake Rotors  – OE vs OEM Brands vs Aftermarket Brands

OE (Original Equipment) are the parts that you get EXACTLY as if you are walking up to an authorized dealership and buying a part at the parts counter. These parts usually come in branded, marked packaging.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are parts that come from the same factory that makes your Original branded parts, but they are boxed in their respective brands. These parts are sold directly from the manufacturer to the suppliers or retailers and not through the brand-specific dealer network, and usually equates to savings for the end consumer while still having the same OEM standards that the vehicle manufacturer specified.

Aftermarket products are from manufacturers that do not supply to your specific brand or dealer in any shape or form, it is important to note that it’s not necessary that aftermarket parts are inferior. In general, there are 2 kinds of aftermarket products.

  • The first kind is a cheaper replacement that provide affordability to consumers, these may be the same quality as the OE/OEM parts or could be slightly inferior to the OE/OEM products. Many, many customers prefer purchasing non-critical parts like air filters so save a bit, and as long as it is a good, reputable brand, you should be good to go!
  • The second kind of aftermarket parts are considered upgraded parts. A good example is the use of aluminium thermostat housings, when the OE part is a plastic housing – which is prone to failure. The aftermarket aluminium eliminates this problem. In this case, most customers prefer to purchase the aftermarket aluminium housing for better longevity.

Benefits of OE and OEM Brakes

  • Typically allows for the continuation of any extended manufacturer warranties or maintenance warranties held on your vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is finances, this may either bolster or at the very least maintain the resale value of your vehicle – provided you are able to furnish the proof that the repairs and replacements were carried put at an OE or OEM dealership.
  • Peace of mind knowing that your brakes are of superior quality.
  • Ease or replacement is another factor many people overlook; you know OE and OEM parts will fit properly. Some aftermarket parts manufacturers develop parts that are designed to fit on multiple models of vehicles in order to mass-produce them. This often leads to ill-fitting parts that require some sort of manipulation in order to get them to bolt on. This is not always the case, but it is something to be aware of – particularly if you are still under any sort of warranty or maintenance plan that requires originals.

Disadvantages of OE and OEM Brakes

  • You may find similar (or sometimes even better) quality, at a lower or similar price

In some cases you can verify that a non-OEM aftermarket part at least equals the original in quality, but is simply priced lower due to the supplier’s reduced overhead or better efficiency. For certain types of applications, aftermarket parts may even be perceived as upgrades over OEM components.

  • Some aftermarket parts are made by the exact same supplier as OE and OEM parts

Sometimes a 3rd-party vendor actually sources parts from the same assembly line that makes the OEM parts. This can be hard to identify; however, as manufacturers usually make pains to ensure that their parts don’t carry visible markings that reveal the true maker.

  • Obsolete equipment

If machinery is near the end of its projected service life, it may not make sense to pay a premium for the advantages offered by OEM parts. Increased resale value will not likely recoup the additional investment required, and durability ceases to be a primary factor in the buying decision.

Benefits of Aftermarket Brakes

  • The pricing is typically far, far cheaper

This is the big one, and probably the only reason you’re even having this discussion in the first place! Prices for aftermarket parts are almost always less than with OEM parts. Sometimes they are much, much cheaper.

  • Variety

Your car has only one manufacturer, so if you want an OEM part, you will have only one choice. As we all know, fewer choices and monopoly of the market means that prices will be higher. Not so with the aftermarket products; in fact, you may have loads of makers to choose from. A big selection brings with it more convenience, too. You’re much more likely to find the aftermarket version of a part you need at your local parts store as compared to the OEM version which may only be available at the dealership’s shop.

  • Equal or possibly superior quality to OE and OEM Products

This is something you will need to research, but it’s not that unusual to find a brand-name aftermarket part whose quality meets or exceeds the OEM version.

Disadvantages of Aftermarket Brakes

  • Contradictory to what we mentioned above – quality may be inferior

There are two sides to every coin.

The quality issue with aftermarket parts, and this one has to do with quality consistency. A greater selection means a higher likelihood of some lower-quality items or items that aren’t a good fit for your specific vehicle. Low quality often has to do with fit and finish problems that can cause more trouble than they’re worth when you get away down the road. Unless you’re working with a mechanic or auto shop that you really know you can trust, it might be best to shop around or at the very least, find an RMI-accredited dealership.

  • Warranties are not always guaranteed

Almost all OEM parts come with some level of warranty protection, usually one year. Aftermarket parts sometimes come with little or no warranty. There’s usually a reason for this, but it is something to consider when choosing between the two.


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