Picture this- you’re in the market for a new clutch or brake pad for your four-year-old vehicle & you are faced with a unique dilemma and a whole lot of abbreviations. Should I buy an OEM part or an OES option? What’s the difference? Why is the price gap so significant? And which one is more reliable? We have dedicated the following paragraphs to throw some light on this matter & help you make an informed purchase decision.
OE : Original Equipment
OEM : Original Equipment Manufacturer
OES : Original Equipment Supplier
Car Manufacturers such as Maruti, Hyundai, Audi, etc, do not manufacture all of the parts that go into an automobile. Generally, the body parts, frame, and major engine components are made on their shop floor, but they outsource the rest of the car to OEM/OES manufacturers as per their specifications for the cars they assemble. Once the outsourced manufacturers produce the parts, they usually add the automobile manufacturer logo to the part and ship it to them to be installed in the new car.
To put matters simply, the manufacturer who factory produced the original part for your vehicle model is called the Original Equipment Supplier. Conversely, an Original Equipment Manufacturer may not have made the specific part for your vehicle, but has an official licensing agreement with the automaker. For example, your car's manufacturer signs contracts with Company A and Company B for various auto part. If your vehicle originally came equipped with Company A's part, another Company A part would be considered OEM, while Company B's part (however identical) would be OES.
This happens for a variety of reasons ranging from managing variable custom duties levied in different geographical areas for different parts and changing procurement norms to the wide availability of multiple companies making the same identical part such that an automaker can ensure steady production without the risk of being held up by contractual disagreements.
However, when it comes to functioning, the fact remains that an OES part and an OEM part are essentially the same with respect to performance minus a few cosmetic changes & the brand logo. The point to note is that although it may be a different manufacturer from one part to another, they're all following the exact specifications outlined by the automobile brand. This famed logo though can make all the difference in car servicing & maintenance costs! OES parts are usually cheaper than their OEM counterparts, while in most cases; functionally they are one and the same. They have been tested by the manufacturer, provide good warranty coverage in case the part fails and performance is usually optimized for the vehicles.
While we have established that OES parts are as reliable as OEM parts, the customer must have a cautious eye so as to avoid spurious fakes. According to the Automotive & Assembly report published by McKinsey & Co. in 2012 states that “The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) estimates that fake auto parts account for 30-40% of the total parts sold in India. The total valuation of auto parts (in retail outlets) in India is worth about Rs. 35,000 crore. Out of these, the value of counterfeit parts could be in the region of Rs. 10,500-14,000 crore. The most common among these fake parts include clutch, filters, lamps, wipers, bearings, steering arms, brakes and brake linings and are available for a range of vehicles including two-wheelers, cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles (trucks and buses). Some of the parts in this list are critical for the safe operation of vehicles. ACMA has claimed that about 20% of the total road accidents in the country could be caused by the use of counterfeit parts.
Hence, as a general rule, purchasing the official licensed parts is safe, so stick to purchasing OES parts to get the requisite car parts at a cost competitive to the OEM counterpart & maintain the longevity of your vehicle!