Original, Genuine, OEM & Aftermarket. Which is which?

We've all heard of these terms or jargon from our visits to local or Malaysian vehicle repair shops.

We've in fact been using 2 of the terms wrongly, either without knowing it or it originated from some 'smart alec' workshop, spare-parts shop or god knows who.

We're not sure if it's only us but we're quite confident those guys in the U.K. or the U.S. of A aren't committing a blunder or mistake like this.

First up, everyone should be familiar with or understands the meaning of Original or Genuine.

We use the term Original more often than the term Genuine.

For example "Boss, you want to order Original or OEM part?"

Most of us actually understand what they are referring to.

So which is which?

But if the same were to be said to our counterparts from the 'Ang Moh' countries. They'll go "Say what?" "What the **** you talking about?"

Because we have been saying it wrongly for years!

So here's what it should be.


Original or 'Orang Cina' as we 'affectionately' call it when spoken too quickly.

They actually refer to parts that were manufactured for the vehicle at the factory.

Vehicle manufacturers don't manufacture the whole car. A car consists of many parts made by independent companies where they design and manufacture most parts used in the cars.

The key word or clue here is the brand logo. Genuine means parts with their respective logos on the packaging.

An example will be spark plugs for a particular car. Genuine means it comes in the car maker's logo with packaging but if you take a closer look, the plugs were made by a certain company.

To put things bluntly, these are the most expensive types of parts you can buy mainly because you are paying for the logo.Some will still go for them because it gives them 'a peace of mind'.

O.E.M (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

The term is given to the part built by the company that originally manufactured it for the car company. However, the term is used in several other ways, which causes ambiguity, which is why this blog post came about.

It is the exact same part that came in your car. It simply doesn’t have the car maker’s logo on it. These are exactly the same as genuine parts but are at a much better value.

An example will be the same spark plugs we talked about earlier. Buying a set from the maker of the spark plugs with compatible part numbers without the car company's logo doesn't make it any less reliable.

Nothing much original is left in here.


Aftermarket parts are manufactured by a company other than the original manufacturer. These parts are made to fit and perform just as well, or in some cases better than the original.

Aftermarket companies analyze how specific OEM parts work and then improve on the original design or materials. Car makers are very interested in keeping the price of their cars competitive so they may opt for less expensive materials in some parts which is why some aftermarket parts may out perform the original.

Excerpt from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The automotive aftermarket is the secondary market of the automotive industry, concerned with the manufacturing, re-manufacturing, distribution, retailing, and installation of all vehicle parts, chemicals, equipment, and accessories, after the sale of the automobile by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to the consumer. The parts, accessories, etc. for sale may or may not be manufactured by the OEM.

"Aftermarket parts are divided into two categories: replacement parts and accessories. Replacement parts are automotive parts built or re-manufactured to replace OE parts as they become worn or damaged. Accessories are parts made for comfort, convenience, performance, safety, or customization, and are designed for add-on after the original sale of the motor vehicle."

So, if the part is not 'Orang Cina', not Genuine nor OEM, then it is labelled as Aftermarket.

At the end of the day, that question regarding the use of the word OEM, will most probably get stuck with us for as long as we know, because we don't normally use the word 'Aftermarket' here, even if the part that we were going to order or purchase isn't made by the Original Equipment Manufacturer. It will take another 'smart alec' to change things around. ;P

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