When you know what OEM means, it can kind of sound boring when it’s compared to aftermarket parts. OEM just means that a particular part is a direct fitment to a vehicle as it came off the factory line.
So, what are OEM headlights, and how do they differ from other headlights? If you’d like to find out, continue reading to see what I learned!
What Are OEM Headlights?
Before you can know what OEM headlights are, first you have to know what OEM parts mean. OEM parts stand for Original Equipment Manufacturer, which means the parts to the vehicle are the originals that came on the vehicle from the factory. Or, in easier terms to understand, the part is a direct fitment to the vehicle.
Buying OEM headlights vs aftermarket headlights can get kind of confusing, depending on why you’re looking for new headlights, so here we’ll clear up a few commonly asked questions about OEM headlights!
How Do I Tell If My Headlights Are OEM?
The best way to find out if your headlights are Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) headlights is by finding the part number on one of the headlights.
Pick either side, and for almost all headlights, the part number will be on the backside of the headlight.
Unfortunately, you might have to unbolt the headlight and pull it out to see the number, because it could be located in a few different-hard to-read spots.
This should be the only number you’ll find on the headlight, which should start with a P or PA, and then is followed by a set of numbers.
You can then call the dealership that services vehicles like yours, and tell them the year/name/make/model of the vehicle and repeat the part number you found.
The dealership will look the information up in the computer and be able to tell you right away if you have an OEM headlight, an aftermarket headlight, or an incorrect headlight.
Can You Put LED Bulbs in OEM Headlights?
This will depend on if your OEM headlights, which means the headlights that came originally on the vehicle, had LED bulbs in them.
If they did, then LED headlight bulbs will fit.
If your car wasn’t originally fitted for LED headlights, you will probably have to do some converting to a LED headlight setup.
What Is an OEM Bulb?
An OEM bulb would be the exact same kind of bulb your vehicle would have left the factory with.
Other types of bulbs might fit into your OEM headlight setup, and they might not.
If you’re not looking to upgrade or downgrade your headlight setup, then get the exact OEM replacement bulb that your vehicle comes with.
these bulbs might fit, but they could cause you problems.
What Does OEM Mean in Sales?
When you tell a parts guy at the store, dealership, etc., you want to buy an OEM part for your vehicle, they will ask the year/make/model of the vehicle and part you need.
Afterward, they can get you the OEM part that will be the direct fit for your vehicle.
Even better, when you ask for an OEM part, 9 times out of ten they will have one in stock, or will be able to get you one at least by the next day.
If you are looking for an aftermarket part, sometimes it could take days to have one ordered and delivered.
What Does OEM Equivalent Mean?
Sometimes, a part might not be made from the factory any longer, making it hard to find OEM parts for certain vehicles, especially older vehicles.
Therefore, aftermarket companies will pick up the slack, and make parts that are OEM equivalent.
This would mean that, by most accounts, the part you get may not be OEM certified by the factory.
However, if you get it from a certified aftermarket dealer, the part you purchase will bolt right up as if it was an OEM part.
Which Is Better – OEM or Aftermarket?
OEM is always better if you’re looking for a part (i.e a headlight or headlight bulb) to match up to your vehicle perfectly.
If you are looking for an upgrade on a certain part of your car, then aftermarket is the only way to go.
No OEM parts for your car would be considered an upgrade.
However, if for some reason a certain part for your car just simply isn’t being made anymore, then you might have to go OEM aftermarket equivalent to get a part that is an exact match.
Note that there are some cases where private owners will sell OEM parts.
However, chances are that this is because the company knows the manufacturer has stopped making the part, and will sell it to you with a price markup.
To know more about headlights, you can also see our related posts on what are adaptive headlights, types of headlights, and how long do LED headlights last.
If your vehicle is quite new, then finding a direct match for a part for your vehicle should not be hard if you go with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). These parts would be the same that were used at the factory to build your vehicle.
However, if your vehicle is a few model years behind, you might end up finding it hard to find the correct OEM parts for your vehicle, and have to go with an aftermarket compromise.