OEM, Generic, and Brand Name Auto Parts – What’s The Difference?

Generic auto parts

Cars today are breaking down less than they used to, thanks to better manufacturing and design. This means most people have the luxury of not thinking about car repairs or the parts that go into their cars. However, what this does mean is that when something does go wrong, we’re a lot less knowledgeable about what to do about it. To make things more complicated, cars today are also far more complex than in previous generations, sometimes making DIY repairs impossible or ill-advised.

Regardless of whether you’re taking your car to a certified technician, an independent auto shop, or attempting to do repairs yourself, you will eventually be faced with the question of parts selection.

While the topic of auto parts may be too complex to cover in a single post, we will cover the most common questions car owners usually face when choosing auto parts: What OEM, brand name, or generic parts? What should I get?

In this post, we’ll lay out the distinctions between each of these types of parts and accessories.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

These parts and accessories are the ones the manufacturer uses for your model of vehicle. In other words, they are the parts that come with your car when you purchase it brand new. Note that it’s possible that the manufacturer uses different parts for the same model from time to time. This means it’s possible to get OEM parts for use in your vehicle that did not originally come with it.

If you want your vehicle to be as close as to what it was the day it was shipped to the dealer, OEM parts are what you should get. They are also the most obvious choice if you are restoring an older vehicle to “like new” condition.

Depending on the manufacturer, OEM parts can be made to wildly quality specifications. OEM parts for a budget car may not necessarily match the quality of OEM parts intended for a mid-tier or luxury vehicle. Car manufacturers that are trying to sell “quality” are more likely to have tighter controls for the OEM parts that make it into their vehicles, and these can sometimes be the best possible part you can get for certain situations.


These parts feature a specific brand name. They are often, but not always, the very same companies that make OEM parts for automakers. Aftermarket upgrade parts are most often made by these companies. Generally speaking, they’re more expensive, and they often feature better materials or specific design features that allow your vehicle to perform better than it would with stock OEM parts.

However, performance improvements are not necessarily guaranteed with branded parts. On top of that, they may even be several times more expensive, due to economies of scale and the premium cachet these parts may have. If you’re looking for an improvement over stock performance, however, you might want to look into these parts.


These parts have no brand names. Sometimes the label “generic” is incorrectly applied to parts that do have a brand name but are from unknown or sketchy manufacturers. These are generally the cheapest parts that you can get. Quality control, however, can vary.

It should be noted that there are known manufacturers that make generic parts along with branded parts. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the quality of branded and generic parts is the same.

NOS (New Old Stock)

These are parts are old, but have not been otherwise used or sold. These are also OEM parts, generally speaking. They are typically no longer manufactured and are discontinued by the manufacturer. These parts were created during the original production run of a specific vehicle. NOS parts are highly sought-after by vintage vehicle enthusiasts who seek to maintain the original composition of their vehicles. These parts can be quite expensive because of their rarity.

NORS (New Old Reproduced Stock)

These are similar to NOS parts but are distinguished by the fact that these parts were made by the manufacturer after a model of the vehicle was discontinued. These were intended to allow for the continued maintenance of these obsolete vehicles. They are slightly cheaper in general compared to NOS parts, as they are not necessarily considered ideal by most vintage vehicle enthusiasts.


If you’re looking for a modern or vintage Jeep parts and accessories supplier, be sure to explore Hi Tech Auto Parts World.