I take it OE stands for original equipment and OEM stands for original equipment matching number.

But, if that is correct, what is the difference?

Specifically, I'd like to know whether the part - in this case the timing belt - is the original part i.e. vs a replacement('matching') part.

  • The number on my timing belt is coming up in internet search results as an OE number.
    – Jim
    Dec 22, 2022 at 9:47
  • 1
    Doesn’t OEM stand for Original Equipment Manufacturer?
    – HandyHowie
    Dec 22, 2022 at 10:23
  • Here's the website that describes it as 'OE Matching quality'. autodoc.co.uk/car-parts/oem/8200939081
    – Jim
    Dec 22, 2022 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


To me, there's no difference between OE and OEM. The "M" in OEM stands for Manufacturer (as HandyHowie states in comments). OE/OEM is used to denote that the part was produced by the company who built whatever vehicle originally. For instance, if you have a Toyota, the replacement part would be made by Toyota.

Three things of note:

  • A lot of aftermarket parts manufacturers use the same or slightly modified part number which matches what the OEM number is ... it makes it easier to align what you're buying to what you're replacing.
  • A part which is manufactured by the aftermarket are usually made to the same specification as an OEM part ... ie: meets or exceeds OEM specifications.
  • If aftermarket part has the OEM part number on it, it won't have the OEM logo on it. NOTE: This isn't hard and fast. In your case, you may not see the logo printed on the backside of the timing belt if it has worn off. You will (most likely) see it on a new timing belt which is OEM, though.

It is my experience not to frown on aftermarket parts. There are many good brands of aftermarket parts which are good parts and will last the change interval without issue. On the other hand, the only way you can go bad with using OEM parts is through your pocketbook, because they are usually more expensive than the aftermarket.

At some point, OEM gives up on making and stocking parts for vehicles. When this happens, you have to go to the aftermarket in order to keep your vehicle running correctly.

  • tempfile.io/en/JyQWfHmrQF0lUg8/preview @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2
    – Jim
    Dec 22, 2022 at 11:12
  • @Jim - That's a Gates belt, which is aftermarket. Thing is, Gates makes good parts. I'm sure they are using the same number as OEM as I described above. Dec 22, 2022 at 11:50
  • Okay, thank-you for that. Now that we have a visual of the belt, does this look like a 10 year old(/108,000km) belt to you?
    – Jim
    Dec 22, 2022 at 12:11
  • @Jim - My opinion on whether the belt is or what it may be is irrelevant. That is for you to decide. I think I've already given you my opinion: If you don't know the history, change the belt. Paying $100 in parts (if you are to change it yourself) is way cheaper than replacing an engine. Dec 22, 2022 at 12:51
  • You're helping me piece together the history. I now know that with a replacement part, and a service at 60,000 km, in 2017, which did not involve a belt change, the age of the belt is less than 50,000km. This is helping me decide whether to shell out for parts, tools & fuel, for piece of mind for a very limited period of time before I lose the vehicle. ;-)
    – Jim
    Dec 22, 2022 at 13:35

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