Auto Parts: Not All Parts Are The Same!
With the ever-rising prices of car repair services in auto shops nowadays, the more sensible choice between near-bankruptcy and DIY seems very obvious. When repairing a car by yourself, all you need are the right tools, an intelligible instruction manual and the recommended parts for the job.
However, not all parts are made equal. In this highly commercialized world, you'll find two or three competing brands for even the rarest, most exotic or most esoteric auto parts. Regardless of their brand or the fancy packaging they might have, all those auto repair parts can be classified into two general categories.
OEM parts come from the original equipment manufacturers (hence the acronym) who made your car or the original parts for it. That means a 'real' or original Toyota part for a Toyota, or a Ford part for a Ford car. The best thing about OEM parts is that you're certain that you're getting the part that was made specifically for your car's make and model. After all, you bought the part from people whom you're sure know your car inside and out. When you're dealing with more technical repairs like engine parts or transmission gears, it matters whether the part will work on the first try.
However, OEM parts might not be for all car owners and budgets. Because you're getting an 'original' part, you'll most probably have to buy it from a dealership, and that usually doesn't come cheap. It might be a little hard on the pockets of cash-strapped car owners, who are the people most likely to do DIY repairs in the first place.
Talk about Third Parties
Your alternative source to OEM parts would be third parties - those companies who aren't affiliated to the original manufacturers in any way but are selling replacement parts anyway. Third party repair parts are popular OEM alternatives in car repair stores and auto shops themselves.
In terms of price, third party replacement parts have the upper hand because they almost always come out significantly cheaper than OEM parts. This is because the third party items don't have branding, do away with fancy packaging and were probably made in a country where manufacturing is cheap. Third party auto parts, as budget-friendly as they might seem, aren't completely problem-free.
Because the part didn't come from the manufacturers themselves, there's much less of a guarantee that it'll work the first time around. It's possible that the part won't work as intended and you'll have to buy a completely new part again. Also, you don't get as good a warranty on third party items as you do with OEM.
There are basically two conflicting things in the question of parts procurement. You have quality assurance on one hand and budget affordability on the other. It will all come down to which you need to prioritize and if you can find a compromise between the two. Check the warranty for your parts as well to guage whether the part will last longer.