A question we are often asked is “which is better… OEM or Aftermarket parts?”
When you take your boat to the dealership’s service department for repairs you’re probably getting Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) engine parts. However, if you take your boat to an independent shop, you’ll most likely get aftermarket parts. Is there anything wrong with that? Does a less expensive part mean a part that’s lesser quality? And in what situations should you use only OEM parts?
An aftermarket part is any part that is not sourced from the engine manufacturer. Notice I did not say “made by the engine manufacturer”, because in many cases the OEMs are sourcing parts from other vendors in the same way the aftermarket companies do. All the major aftermarket manufacturers supply parts designed to function as well or better than the original, they will “meet or exceed” the design specifications of the original part. If the aftermarket part is a direct replacement of the original part it will not void your engine warranty.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons:
Aftermarket Parts Pros:
Cost: The aftermarket parts are usually less expensive than OEM. The amount you save will vary by part and by brand, but you can often save 20 – 40% as compared to OEM.
Quality: Many of our customers will assume that the less expensive aftermarket part means the quality will be lower. That is usually not the case. Quality and reliability for aftermarket parts from the major manufacturers are as good as or better than the OEM. The aftermarket companies are able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the original part through the reverse engineering of them and often are able to work out the bugs. We see numerous cases where certain aftermarket parts are undoubtedly better. An example would be power packs for the Johnson/Evinrude 1992-2006 150 and 175HP 60 Degree Optical (OIS 2000) Carbureted Engines. CDI Electronics has a Power Pack Upgrade Kit that is a definite improvement over the original OEM power packs.
Better availability: The aftermarket parts are available at more locations and can usually be delivered to you more quickly.
Warranty: Contrary to what most consumers think the aftermarket manufacturers generally have a better warranty on their parts than the OEM does. They need to offer a better warranty in order to overcome the consumer concern about buying aftermarket.
Aftermarket Parts Cons:
Quality can vary from some manufactures: Stick with the major manufacturers of aftermarket parts (such as the ones we sell) to ensure consistent quality.
Overwhelming selection: Sometimes it seems confusing to choose the correct aftermarket replacement. When in doubt check the manufacturer’s application guides and catalog data.
OEM Parts Pros:
Easier to choose: Your original part number as the OEM part will be the same as shown on your engine drawings, or as superseded by the manufacturer.
OEM Parts Cons:
Cost: The OEM parts are almost always more expensive although some of the engine manufacturers and feeling the pinch and are trying to offer matching pricing on the fast moving parts that are available as aftermarket.
In our opinion, when you have a choice, the correct aftermarket part from a reputable manufacturer will be your best option, although there are many parts that are only available as the OEM. The marine engine parts business is a small market as compared to the automotive market and there are many parts that are just not worthwhile for the aftermarket manufacturers to produce.
We give you a choice of OEM or aftermarket parts for Johnson, Evinrude, OMC, Mercury, Mariner, Force, and Mercruiser. If you enter an OEM part number in our parts search box the site will display the OEM part as well as the available aftermarket parts options. You decide!