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The Difference Between OEM, OE, and Aftermarket

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Installing MSS springs to vehicle

As a car enthusiast, you will most likely have come across the terms ‘OE’, ‘OEM’ and ‘Aftermarket’ when talking about parts and accessories. MSS Suspension is classified as an aftermarket upgrade. But what does that actually mean and why should you care? We’re here to hopefully shed a little light on these often misunderstood terms and explain the main differences between them:

Original Equipment (OE)

Original Equipment parts are the parts your car was fitted with on the production line when it was made. These parts are branded as the manufacturers own, meaning BMW OE parts (for example) come in BMW packaging, and will have official BMW part numbers – but they are actually generally made by another specialist company – called the OEM:

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

An Original Equipment Manufacturer is the company who makes the Original Equipment parts for a specific vehicle manufacturer. 

Using our example, BMW uses lots of different OEM’s to supply the components and assemblies used to build their vehicles. For example, Thyssenkrupp is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and is an approved and accredited supplier to BMW, manufacturing BMW suspension parts. 

Some OEM’s also sell parts directly to the consumer, under their own brand name (i.e. Delphi batteries) and in some cases the parts are identical to the OE part, but with different packaging and part numbers (and a much lower price tag!). Despite this, these parts can never be officially classified or marketed as OE, as they have not been supplied by the manufacturer.

Sometimes manufacturers use recognised brands as their official OE part fitment. BMW often use Brembo brake calipers, Harman/Kardon in-car entertainment and Bridgestone tyres as OE on lots of their vehicles, but these are NOT rebranded ‘BMW’. Instead they are actively promoted in their own right as they are recognised and highly desired premium specialist component brands. 

Aftermarket

Where OE refers to an ‘official’ manufacturers part – specified, endorsed and fitted by the manufacturer on the production line; the term ‘aftermarket’ can be broadly applied to any other alternative replacement part. As such, all aftermarket products are in no way endorsed by the manufacturer. Within the aftermarket exists two very different types of products: 

Replacements – Products designed to replace Original Equipment parts as they start to degrade or fail. These parts can be of varying comparative quality to the OE part they replace (and as we’ve already touched on can sometimes be the exact same component in different packaging), but are usually less expensive. This makes aftermarket very attractive for those seeking to cost effectively replace a component like-for-like, with no tangible sacrifice in quality – and in fact sometimes the aftermarket product can actually be better made.

Performance Upgrades – Products which represent an upgrade to your vehicle, by improving the functionality and performance of the OE component. This may be to further enhance the core performance of a specific component (often designed down to meet a price point by the manufacturer), or to ‘tune’ performance to better suit the individual drivers specific needs (because the manufacturer must compromise in creating a vehicle with as broad an appeal as possible).

MSS takes the concept of a performance upgrade a stage further, by delivering a multitude of normally incompatible performance benefits in one product. Thanks to its unique dual stacked, triple rated spring technology, MSS aftermarket suspension can deliver a driving experience which improves performance, comfort and safety often over both OE and traditional aftermarket suspension.

One of our UK based resellers, Evolve Automotive, has recently reviewed our MSS Sports product on their stunning BMW M3 F80, providing honest feedback. Watch the video below. 

Are you dissatisfied with your existing suspension? Browse our full range of products here, or view our BMW specific solutions here. If you want to find out more about our solutions tailored to the BMW driver, you can read this in our BMW 1-5 Series Showcase blog

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