Learn the difference between OEM vs aftermarket car parts here and find out if OEM car parts are worth the extra cost.
When buying new parts for your car, you have several options. You can buy OEM parts direct from the dealership or you can get an aftermarket part.
There are some situations where you would only want to use parts from the dealership. These parts are also known as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM for short).
When you are trying to save money, but still get a new part then you need to look into buying an aftermarket part. These parts are not made by the manufacturer of the vehicle but are meant to be a direct replacement for OEM parts. There are situations where you do not want to use these parts, but in general it is a good idea to try to use them when you can to help you save money.
Let's learn a little more about these two types of new parts:
Dealership parts sometimes are better quality. While this is not true all the time, there are times that it is better to buy a dealership (OEM Part) part. I have installed parts before that just did not work right so I had to go back and install a new OEM part. If your mechanic ever has this problem make sure that they DO NOT CHARGE YOU for replacing this part again. It is not your fault and you should not have to pay for it.
I should also say that there are even times when the factory part is inferior to an aftermarket part. If an OEM part has a defect that the factory hasn't fixed yet, sometimes aftermarket parts companies will make better ones. This is something that you might want to ask when buying your parts.
To buy OEM parts you have to go to the dealership. There are quite a few websites that sell them as well, just be sure to buy OEM parts. The website you go to should say OEM parts so you know what you are buying.
Aftermarket parts are almost always cheaper and usually of the same quality. In rare cases, they could be even better quality. I almost always choose aftermarket parts for these reasons. The only time I would buy from a dealer is if they were not available through the aftermarket or if I knew the aftermarket parts were not as good as the dealership parts.
Aftermarket parts sourced include NAPA, Autozone, Schucks, etc., as well as lots of online stores. I just suggest that after you find one that you like, stick with them. It is much easier to take them back if they know you and you buy a lot of parts from them.
Whether to buy dealer parts or aftermarket car parts is really something that you should let your mechanic decide... if you trust them. It is very hard to tell which would be the better option, but usually my first call is to an aftermarket parts store.
Update: Having bought countless items from different retail shops and websites over the years, I now buy almost all auto parts, tools and supplies from Amazon: Automotive.
I begun buying vehicle replacement parts on Amazon a few years ago due to the cost savings and convenience. I find that Amazon sells most automotive products about 20 to 30% cheaper than retail stores, plus the free shipping helps me cut down traveling expenses and time.
Amazon's Automotive Part Finder also makes it a breeze to find the correct parts and accessories. All I have to do is to enter the vehicle year, make and model... and Amazon will show me a list of parts which fit that specific vehicle.
If you sign up for Amazon Prime, you can expect to receive most items within two days. This is far quicker than other online auto retailers who often take 5 to 14 days to deliver.