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OEM vs. Aftermarket: What’s the Difference? Main Image

Here’s a question that we hear quite a bit -- what’s the difference between OEM and aftermarket parts? Before we begin, let’s first explain what OEM and aftermarket mean. OEM products, or “Original Equipment Manufacturer” products, come directly from the original manufacturer you bought your machine from. For example, if you bought a Toro mower, the OEM parts would be made by Toro. Aftermarket parts are made by a variety of manufacturers are normally sold by one supplier. For example, Stens is an aftermarket supplier of lawn & garden parts. Their products include replacement air filters, trimmer line, belts, blades and a variety of other items. We carry products from numerous aftermarket suppliers.

Now that we know what OEM and aftermarket mean, here are a few things to think about before purchasing parts:

Design & Quality

OEM parts were specifically designed for your machine and are usually an exact replacement part. These parts are guaranteed to be made to the exact specifications that were used when the machine was first built, whether your machine is a year old or thirty years old! The quality of an OEM product will be similar to or exactly the same as the product already on your machine. Aftermarket parts are often re-engineered parts. Because of this, the quality is often not the same. This means that the durability or the design may not exactly meet OEM standards. But don’t give up on aftermarket parts yet – we’ve found that some aftermarket parts actually come from the same manufacturers who are making parts for the OEM’s – meaning that the aftermarket part is identical to the OEM. But generally, the OEM will provide the best quality parts.

Price & Availability

Aftermarket products save you money. Here’s why – consider the supply chain of an OEM part: the manufacturer of a part sells it to an OEM. The OEM sells it either to a dealer or a distributor. The distributor sells it to a dealer, and then the dealer sells it to you. Every step in the chain creates a delay in product availability and an increase in price, because everyone has to make a profit on the part. Now consider the supply chain of an aftermarket part: the manufacturer sells it to the aftermarket supplier. The supplier sells it to a dealer, and the dealer sells it to you. Less middle-man means less cost, which saves you money! The aftermarket suppliers also carry a majority of the inventory, so product is available more quickly. But not every OEM part has an aftermarket product available – aftermarket suppliers usually carry only commonly replaced parts for each OEM.


Replacing a defective product is never a fun task, but it happens to all of us at some point. The moment you buy an OEM product, the clock starts ticking. OEM’s typically have a short warranty period – somewhere between 30 to 90 days. Different products carry different warranty periods, but you’ll find that most aftermarket suppliers offer very generous warranty periods – sometimes up to a year after purchase!

In the lawn care world, it is a generally known fact that OEM products rule. Because aftermarket suppliers only sell general maintenance and “wear” parts, the amount of OEM products is much greater. As many places do sell both, the one you’re most likely to find more of is the OEM products. Here’s a recap of the advantages and disadvantages:


  • Better quality
  • More availability
  • Less expensive
  • Better warranty
  • No middle-man
  • More expensive
  • Shorter warranty period
  • Often lesser quality
  • Only certain replacement parts available

To sum it all up, OEM products are better quality, but aftermarket products are cheaper and they get the same job done. Now that you understand the difference between OEM and aftermarket products, you can be a wise parts shopper.