Are OEM Replacement Third Brake Light Assemblies Better Than Aftermarket?

Is it time to replace the third brake light assembly on your GM vehicle? If so, you'll face an inevitable question. Should you get an OEM or aftermarket replacement unit? In that case, you came to the right place.

In this post, we'll discuss OEM and aftermarket third brake light assemblies. We'll talk about the differences between both types. If you're looking for a quick answer to your question, our answer is to get an OEM one, hands down. Read on to find out why.

What Is An OEM Third Brake Light Assembly?

GM high mount brake light

An OEM third brake light assembly is exactly like the stock one that rolled off the assembly line with your car. It's made by either GM or the company hired by GM. It comes with the same dimensions as the stock assembly on your car.

An OEM third brake light assembly will look and work exactly like the third brake light that came on your car. That's a big deal, for the reasons listed later in this post.

What Is An Aftermarket Third Brake Light Assembly?

OEM manufacturers don't make aftermarket parts. Rather, aftermarket manufacturers make aftermarket parts. Aftermarket manufacturers are private companies that design and manufacture their own auto parts.

There's a lot of variation in quality when it comes to aftermarket parts. A few aftermarket parts may be OK to use, but not when it comes to third brake lights. Third brake lights are important when it comes to your safety. That's why you don’t want to cheap out on a replacement.

GM Makes Its Third Brake Light Assemblies With High Quality Materials

OEM third brake light assemblies function better than aftermarket ones. It's because GM makes OEM parts with high quality materials. In the case of third brake light assemblies:

  • OEM lenses are much thicker than most aftermarket lenses
  • The lens pattern for OEM third brake lights has an optimal design
    • The pattern makes the light brighter than many aftermarket brake assemblies
  • OEM light bulbs last longer because they're built with quality materials
  • OEM third brake light assemblies come with high quality rubber seals
    • These rubber seals don't let water seep into the assembly, which creates condensation

Have you ever wondered why aftermarket third brake assemblies are cheap? A big reason is because many aftermarket manufacturers use low quality materials. That, of course, will cause fitment or performance problems.

OEM Third Brake Light Assemblies Have The Right Dimensions

GM 3rd brake light

Image Credit: J Ro Pro

When it comes to third brake light assemblies, fitment is quite important. Many aftermarket third brake light assemblies don’t come with OEM dimensions. In fact, some aftermarket assemblies are universal. That's something you want to avoid at all costs.

You want your replacement third brake light assembly to fit perfectly. If you use an assembly that doesn't fit right, you'll experience issues. For example, a housing that's too big won't seal correctly. You'll have the same problem if you're using a housing that's too small. In either case water can seep into the system and fry the connections.

Not all aftermarket manufacturers disclose the dimensions of their third brake light assemblies. Some of them may claim that their assemblies are made just for your GM model, but you shouldn't take their word for it. If you check out aftermarket third brake light assemblies on Amazon, you'll find many negative reviews about fitment. Here are a couple examples from GM owners:

  • "I had problems with water leaking inside the lens. I tried to contact [the aftermarket manufacturer] and they never responded. Now my light assembly is completely full of water. Guess I'm screwed. Don't buy this!"
  • "[This aftermarket third brake light assembly] looks high quality, but it will not fit my truck (a 2007 3500 HD GMC Sierra). It's too big for my truck."

Many Aftermarket Third Brake Light Assemblies Don't Come With A Warranty

When looking for a replacement part for your vehicle, always pick one with a warranty. That way, you'll be protected in case the part fails. Many aftermarket parts manufacturers don't warranty their products. GMC warranties most of its OEM replacement parts. So if you buy an OEM GMC third brake light assembly, you'll have the peace of mind that it's warrantied.

Are Aftermarket Third Brake Light Assemblies Really Cheaper Than OEM?

Cost repair

The aftermarket industry is booming because aftermarket parts are cheaper upfront. That's pretty much the only advantage of using aftermarket parts. Price shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when shopping for third brake light assemblies, though. Also, aftermarket parts aren't actually as cheap as many people think. The truth is, aftermarket parts usually end up costing you more money in the long run.

It's because aftermarket parts tend to fail earlier than OEM parts. When that happens, you'll have no choice but to buy another third brake light assembly. Paying for an aftermarket assembly twice is certainly more expensive than using one OEM assembly. OEM parts last, and many aftermarket parts don't.

You Can Still Save Money On A Genuine OEM Third Brake Light Assembly

If you're on a budget, you may feel tempted to buy an aftermarket third brake light assembly. You don't have to sacrifice quality for price, though. You can get the best of both worlds by shopping with us.

On our site, you'll find wholesale pricing for a wide variety of genuine OEM GM parts. We have OEM third brake light assemblies for many different GM models. Check out our catalog and see how much money you can save!

Here's another tip if you're on a budget: you can still save money by replacing it yourself. You’ll save a lot of money on labor. Shops often charge a minimum of one hour of work, even if the job takes only 5 minutes. Replacing the third brake light assembly on your GM vehicle is much easier than it sounds. If you have an Escalade, you may benefit from this tutorial.