The core difference between genuine and aftermarket car keys is that genuine, otherwise known as OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), are keys that the vehicle manufacturer supplies with the new vehicle, or as is often the case, keys that are outsourced to approved and authorised manufacturers who produce high-quality OEM grade keys. In comparison, aftermarket keys are not manufactured by approved or authorised manufacturers, meaning that the keys tend to be cheaper and of a lower quality. In many cases, these aftermarket keys breaking and/or wearing out after a short time.

With all that in mind, aftermarket keys have their benefits, but as mentioned, they can come at a cost to the customer, which is why Genuine/OEM keys are a better option.


Pros of Aftermarket Keys:

Aftermarket Keys Can Be More Cost Effective:

The most significant factor in favour of purchasing an aftermarket key would be the general affordability across the market. Since third-party manufacturers produce these keys, they cost far less than their OEM counterparts because many OEM keys must be ordered from a specific supplier and are then usually programmed through the dealership. However, opting for the cheapest option available can lead to an unreliable product of lesser quality due to cheaper materials being used in the manufacturing process.

Aftermarket Keys Are Widely Available:

OEM keys tend to be sold exclusively by the original manufacturers or approved third-party manufacturers, meaning that the older the vehicle, the harder it may be to find specific products. Aftermarket keys can be purchased through several different online websites, which may be more accessible but come at the cost of opening oneself up to untrustworthy online retailers and keys of mixed quality and compatibility with your vehicle.

Although benefits exist for purchasing aftermarket keys, there is a high likelihood you will run into issues, especially if the key purchased is on the cheaper side.

Sometimes they are not the correct frequency and do not program into the vehicle.

Disadvantages of Aftermarket Keys:

Poor Manufacturing Of Aftermarket Keys Can Lead To Hit Or Miss Quality:

Due to the price of aftermarket keys varying so heavily, there will be circumstances in which the quality of the materials used and the manufacturer’s reputation may come into question depending on how much the key was purchased for. If poor quality materials are used, the key fob has the potential of cracking or breaking when dropped, and under extreme temperatures, for an extended period the key can malfunction. These faults rarely occur in  OEM keys; however, there is naturally a higher likelihood of these issues occurring more often in aftermarket keys.

Aftermarket Keys Do Not Have Guaranteed Compatability:

Similar to the quality of aftermarket keys being under question, so is the potential compatibility of the key with your vehicle. Since your specific vehicle manufacturer does not manufacture aftermarket keys, if your car has sophisticated security systems or transponder chips, it may be challenging to find an aftermarket key that can fully replicate what an OEM key can do for your vehicle. If faults do arise in using the key, it may not even be that the key is malfunctioning but it was programmed incorrectly. This is often the case in aftermarket keys, as correctly programming keys into a vehicle can be challenging for vehicle owners.

Limited Warranty:

Unlike with OEM keys, the warranty depends on the online retailer from which the aftermarket key is purchased. If the key was purchased from an online store that offers cheap keys, a warranty is rarely offered in cases where your key breaks or malfunctions. There have even been cases in which the warranty of vehicles have come under investigation when it was discovered that aftermarket keys were being used in place of a genuine OEM key.

It will always be the more intelligent and a safer option to spend a little extra and choose an OEM key over the aftermarket option, as it guarantees reliability, compatibility, and warranty.


Why Genuine/OEM Keys Are The Better Option:

The only pitfall in purchasing a genuine/OEM key would be the generally higher price point. However, this price point is offset by the many benefits and assurances you will get with OEM.

Guaranteed Quality:

OEM keys are designed specifically for your vehicle, meaning that they will work in the exact same way and manner as your original key. They are guaranteed to be made with precision and to meet the highest quality automotive specifications. This manufacturing precision, combined with high-quality materials, ensures reliability and durability.

Guaranteed Compatibility With Your Vehicle:

Genuine keys are explicitly programmed to your vehicle from the time of manufacture, which means they will work at optimal performance and for a longer period than their aftermarket counterparts. The reason for this compatibility is that the key is manufactured by your vehicle’s manufacturer or from an authorised and trusted manufacturer.

Guaranteed Warranty:

As previously mentioned, some aftermarket keys may not be compatible with your vehicle’s security system, which has the potential to void your vehicle’s warranty. Using the intended OEM key will not have any risk against your vehicle’s warranty, but it will also come with a warranty in cases where your key fails or malfunctions.

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