You are ready to replace your brakes or change a ball joint and want to know which replacement parts you should use for the job. It starts off with understanding how the auto parts market works and then you can make the right decision for your specific vehicle. No matter what you decide to do, always read the replacement auto parts reviews for timely tips that can save you time, frustration, and money.

What’s the Difference? OEM vs. Replacement vs. Reconditioned

When your car rolls off the lot, it contains original equipment (OE) made by a specific manufacturer (OEM). These manufacturers are required by law to make enough parts to fix problems for that make and model year for five years. If the car is exceptionally durable, you may find some OEM parts after the five-year mark hiding in somebody’s inventory.

Replacement auto parts can be manufactured by the OEM but may not meet the original criteria–they will fit and function but may not be as durable. Third-party companies also create replacement auto parts. They are typically less expensive than the brand name “genuine” OEM parts and may be just as good or not–that is where reading those replacement auto parts reviews becomes essential.

There is also the reconditioned market for vintage machines and extremely popular models that have a high repair rate. Parts are removed from cars that have been junked–for one reason or another–and the part is cleaned up and machined. You enjoy significant savings, but you cannot expect a reconditioned part to last as long as even a third-party replacement part. However, when you are working on restoring an antique, it may be your best resource.

It Came Off the Same Car with a Different Trim–Will that Work?

Maybe. Things like seats, steering wheels, and even many mechanical parts will translate between trim levels. However, you must always check your repair manual for the proper part number and compare that with the replacement part you found online or in a parts store. The luxury trim levels may have a different suspension, brakes, audio system, battery, or even a different door. If you are uncertain about the fit, speak to an expert before putting down your cash.

Just Go to the Dealer, Right?

The easiest way to find the perfectly fitting replacement auto part is to head to a dealer’s part shop, right? Only if you feel like paying extra for the privilege. While the dealer’s stock genuine OEM parts, there is also a stocking fee attached to every piece. With a little research, and by checking a variety of replacement auto parts reviews, you can find the same part for a lower price. Of course, if you are fixing up your grandparent’s mint sedan, even the dealer may not have access to the aftermarket parts that you need.