The Difference Between OEM versus Aftermarket Parts

OEM Replacement PartsWhen you need a replacement ice maker you’re faced with having to choose OEM versus aftermarket replacement parts.

There are any number of websites that will sell you a replacement part, using the brand name but you really need to do your homework to find parts made by the original manufacturer.

If you’ve had your ice maker for any length of time, you may have no other choice then to go with a generic or universal replacement part.

The original manufacturers many times offer authentic replacement parts on their websites at a premium cost — and for the budget conscious, it can send them seeking a deal elsewhere.

Buyer beware?! So what does OEM and aftermarket mean in terms of getting something fixed?

You may be familiar with the terminology if you’ve ever needed to take your car to a repair shop for fixing.

What is OEM versus Aftermarket?

OEM stands for “ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER”. The benefit you get from an OEM replacement part is that it should be an exact duplicate, manufactured exactly the same, from the same brand manufacturer as the original part.

The quality and performance of that part is then predictable. An “aftermarket” replacement part is NOT made by the same brand manufacturer, is many times made in a foreign country and while it may provide the same performance as the original part, the quality is usually less than the original.

Aftermarket parts are less expensive to produce, with lesser quality materials and while they are cheaper for the consumer, they are also more profitable for that manufacturer.

Is Aftermarket Really a Better Value?

The answer to that could be yes or no and here’s why. Most manufacturers offer a 1-year warranty on an original ice maker. The average life expectancy for an ice maker is 5 to 7 years.

If you have hard water, it could be less. You are out of warranty with the original manufacturer anyway, after 1 year, unless you have paid for an extended repair plan — these can cost well in excess of the price of a new ice maker.

Some aftermarket manufacturers will offer to guarantee their replacement part beyond what the original manufacturer offers. This can be a good deal if the aftermarket manufacturer can backup his claims with solid, positive customer feedback.

However, there are those aftermarket vendors, who you may have trouble getting a response from should you need to make a claim against the warranty they offer.

You have a much higher risk using an aftermarket part for something like car repair — after all, your safety is at stake…an ice maker replacement that fails will give you nothing more than a headache and a lesson learned.