OEM vs. Aftermarket

When buying boat parts, should you buy an aftermarket part, or stick with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts?  There is some controversy over this, but the debate is far from being cut and dried.

Like most others, I once believed that an OEM part was always superior to an aftermarket part.  Unfortunately, the word “aftermarket” seems to carry some negative connotations.  So what are the real differences between an OEM part and an aftermarket part, and where do aftermarket parts find their place in this day and age?

Some time ago, there was no such thing as an “aftermarket” part.  Everything was made directly by the original manufacturers.  Eventually, these manufacturers found it beneficial to outsource production and manufacturing duties to other factories, who were one day also able to replicate these parts and sell them to other distributors.  These parts became known as aftermarket.

When most people think of aftermarket parts, they probably think of a huge production line overseas pumping out mass quantities of low-quality parts.  While this sometimes may not be far from the truth, these parts are usually of a higher quality than one would originally expect.  In fact, these parts are more often than not the exact same part that you would get from an authorized dealer.  The reason for this is that a lot of the original manufacturers use the same factories, and even the same companies, to manufacture their parts.  So what is often the big difference between these parts?  The answer is the packaging the part comes in and the brand that it is labeled as being.

There are several reasons why you might choose an aftermarket part over its OEM alternative.  In this day and age, we find most people going aftermarket for economic reasons.  OEM dealers often get by under the guise that their parts are original and therefore are superior, or that an aftermarket part is cheap and will under-perform and potentially damage your motor.  This enables them to charge astronomical prices in most cases, whereas an aftermarket part is usually far less expensive.

Aside from that, you may be the owner of an older motor or boat and the OEM part is no longer available, but an aftermarket company still makes a replacement for said part. Or you simply can’t find the OEM part in your area, whereas you can easily find and order an aftermarket alternative online.

Perhaps you want to change either the appearance of the performance of your motor or boat from its stock condition and no authorized dealer can help you find what you need.  Maybe your boat is taking too long to plane out evenly and you want to adjust the pitch of your propeller, but an OEM propeller isn’t offered in anything other than what you already have.  Most likely, you can find various aftermarket propellers to achieve this.

These are just a few examples of why you may find it beneficial to go with an aftermarket part.  The debate rages on over which is better and why, but the evidence is clear and shouldn’t sway you from deciding to go aftermarket.  Your wallet and boat may thank you for it!

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One Response to OEM vs. Aftermarket

  1. Cheoy Lee says:

    Thanks for helping to diffuse the myth, I suppose the terminology, “aftermarket” doesn’t do much for making the parts sound very high-end. Just remember, of course, to always be aware of exactly where the part has come from and check safety etc before use.

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