It’s bad enough when a wheel is so badly damaged by a pothole that it has to be replaced. Then it gets worse when you are confronted with a dizzying array of choices to replace it. Knowing the difference between OEM and aftermarket wheels can ease the pain of decision-making.
It’s pretty simple: OEM wheels are the ones that roll out of the factory with the new car. They are either made by the car manufacturer itself, or they are made by a third party for the car manufacturer according to strict standards and specifications, to be used on new cars. OEM replacement parts are made by the same manufacturers that made the original parts, according to the same specifications.
Again, pretty simple: an aftermarket wheel is any wheel that isn’t an OEM wheel. They might also be called “replica” wheels. Some manufacturers of these replica wheels maintain that the wheels are just as good or better than the originals – but they cannot claim that they are identical; in fact they may have to make the replicas slightly different from the originals in order to avoid patent or trademark infringement problems. There are differing points of view on whether aftermarket wheels affect your car’s value, and it’s possible that putting them on your car may void the warranty.
Replica wheels are less expensive, but many do not go through any rigorous quality control processes. That’s why, if you are looking to replace your Toyota Camry rims, insist on purchasing replicas that are from independently certified manufacturers and have been inspected by a reputable dealer.
While wheel prices may be a concern you should consider quality above all else. Wheels are the foundation of your ride. If they’re not right for your car, it can be downright dangerous. OEM wheels come direct from the car maker or the company that makes wheels for the car maker. They are identical to the wheels that rolled of the lot with your new car. Aftermarket or replica wheels may or may not be made of the same or similar alloys. It’s harder to confirm quality without the help of an expert. Replicas may be easier to obtain and they may cost less than OEM wheels. However, you will want to check the warranty and confirm the certifications of the manufacturer. A reputable supplier will take the time to go through your options and explain the difference between OEM and aftermarket wheels. They’ll tell you whether the manufacturer is independently certified, if the wheel has been inspected and tested, and what kind of warranty it carries. Do your homework and make the choice that gives you the greatest confidence and peace of mind when replacing one of the most important parts of your car.