Eric Page - October 10, 2016
Ever wonder what the term OEM actually means? OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer is a bit of a misnomer whose definition has changed over time.
In the past, an OEM was defined as a company who manufactured products that were then used as components in another company's product. Often, an OEM works hand-in-hand with the company that ultimately sells the finished object or goods.
Today the term OEM is used to describe a company that buys a product (from a third party) and then integrates or re-brands it into a new product during assembly or construction. Typically, the part is marketed under the company's own name while the warranty, support and licensing is offered for the product.
To be clear, when someone is looking to purchase OEM parts, it does not mean that the part was made by the manufacturer. It also means that vehicle dealerships are not the sole source for original parts for your car, truck, motorcycle or boat. In most cases, parts you get from a dealership can be purchased cheaper elsewhere. If you do some research online, you can determine who originally manufactured the parts you might need. Often, you can find a less expensive version of the same part, re-branded in different packaging.
In contrast, an aftermarket part is any part for a vehicle that is not sourced from the manufacturer of the vehicle. Usually, if an aftermarket part is a direct replacement for an OEM part, it should not void your vehicle's warranty. In many cases, aftermarket parts are as good and in some cases even better than the original OEM parts.
Below is a list of the largest OEMs in terms of sales in the North American marketplace.
Finally, checkout AutomotiveOEM.com. They're a publisher of automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) data covering suppliers of parts, components, assemblies, services and technologies comprising the North American manufacturing supply chain. A good source for finding parts manufacturers.
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