Headlights: Genuine vs. OEM vs. Aftermarket

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The headlight market can be confusing. What's the difference between an OEM part and the cheaper one on eBay where the picture looks the same? Why does one retailer seem to have three versions of the same head lamp at very different prices? We want to honestly explain the difference between Genuine, OEM and Aftermarket parts, and the reasons behind different pricing.

What is a Genuine part?

When a part is marked as Genuine, it is made by the original manufacturer of the part and has the badge of the car maker imprinted on it. They are often made by companies such as Valeo and Hella, but are branded as Volkswagen or BMW, for example. Genuine parts will cost the most out of the three options, generally.

On our website, Genuine parts are clearly labelled with the logo of the car manufacturer on the product page.

What is an OEM part?

This is where things get interesting - an OEM part is the Genuine part. Exactly the same. Apart from one change - the car manufacturer's logo is missing. The functionality, quality and reliability of the part will be completely equal to a part marked as Genuine, but the Volkswagen, BMW or Citroen logo will not be on the rear of the part.

We sell OEM parts from brands such as Valeo and Hella, and they are clearly labelled with their logo on every product page. Your part will also arrive in a box branded with the manufacturer's logo.

What is an Aftermarket part?

An aftermarket part is different - it is made by a third-party, that had nothing to do with the original manufacturers of the car or the part. There are upsides and downsides to aftermarket parts, and it does often depend on who made the part as to whether you can reasonably trust its quality.

When you see a part on eBay (for example) at half the price of one of our Hella products, you're looking at an aftermarket part. 

Aftermarket is not in itself a bad thing at all - we sell aftermarket items, as well as OEM and Genuine. But they aren't for everyone. They often add extra features and upgrades in terms of lighting performance or aesthetics, compared to the original parts. For someone looking to improve the look and design of their vehicle, aftermarket parts make a very good option.

How do I choose between Genuine, OEM or Aftermarket car parts?

Deciding on which type of part you need will be guided by why you're buying the part. Do you just need a quality replacement headlight for your family car? Genuine or O.E.M will be the best option, with the extra cost making sure the quality and reliability is there.

If you're wanting to make your personal car look sleeker than the stock vehicle, aftermarket will be what you're after. You still might want to avoid the cheapest of the cheap on places like eBay - because quality might still be a concern for you, and with parts like headlights you have safety issues to think of.

To decide between Genuine or OEM, the only difference is how you feel about it not having the manufacturer's logo branded on it. Some people like everything to be 100% branded, others are more focused on the quality and functionality - everyone is different! As long as both know that the part is essentially the same, save for a logo.

Want to learn more?

Take a look at our blog for more information and advice on automotive lighting, we try to be as helpful and honest as possible. Otherwise, we're here to answer any questions you might have!