Mar 052013
Achtung! BMW parts only!

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My recent story on how to find the best replacement parts for your BMW sparked a lot of comments on LinkedIn. Most of these were in the BMW M Owners group, with a number of owners and a couple of former parts managers sharing their perspectives. (Thanks Mike for taking the time to leave your comment here on the site!)

Finding the right parts for your BMW can be confusing, so here’s some of the feedback I’ve received.

I sort of agree with this “original parts vs aftermarket parts” but my experience tells me that there are certain parts that really have to be manufacturer parts, also a lot of manufacturers now are pricing parts in such a way that aftermarket parts are just not worth fitting, buy cheap pay twice springs to mind.

I, too, have a E39 M5. If you do your research it isn’t too difficult to avoid counterfeit parts and get the best deal. Some components, well most, you never buy from the dealer. Knowing that their typical clientele are the brand new bmw owners looking for an easy fix to get their car back on the road, regardless of cost, they can charge more for parts without turning heads. The hobbyist BMW owner will have a different viewpoint. I will only buy things like O-rings and coolant from the dealer, as the pricing is the same and shipping is free.

I only buy OEM parts for my E92 M3. There are several sites out there.

I recommend that you ask your BMW dealer’s parts department for a price quote. Many times over the years I have been surprised by the excellent pricing I received from the parts manager at my local BMW dealership (often priced less than many of the well known online retailers). *Not all dealerships offer great deals to CCA members though. A BMW dealership that I used to deal with in PA marked up their part prices by 20% over “list” price so they certainly did not get my business.

For online retailers, I recommend Turner Motorsport []

As a career BMW dealer parts advisor/mgr, and now a parts manager for the past three years at an independent, I have learned which parts are ok to use aftermarket and which aren’t. Cooling system parts and profile gaskets are dealer only, brake rotors which are coated like zimmerman and textar are fine to use aftermarket. Control arms and filters are ok aftermarket but cv axles are not. Often you have to find out the hard way thru parts warrsnty comebacks which items are risky.

What a great discussion. I have worked at BMW dealerships for over 12 years and could tell you both the positives of “dealer” parts vs OEM aftermarket parts. I agree with Ralph’s statement about the pros and cons of purchasing non dealer parts. Ironically I have also worked at independent shops for a few years and can tell you that some of the aftermarket parts are the same brand, part number, and construction of dealer parts. I strongly believe, however, that some parts should be only purchased from the dealer.

My advantage is my experience as a BMW technician. Doing some research is a must. Finding a experienced and trustworthy technician is highly recommended. As a shop foreman i have seen premature parts failure due to improper installation techniques regardless of where they came from.

The problem is that older BMWs become cheap (ish) to buy initially and this attracts people to them who are unwilling or just unable to pay the list price new and opt for a BMW over a new but less sought after marque. The fact is that the actual running costs don’t diminish, and this catches a lot of people out (particularly those who go for the M models).

A £15,000 M5 from six or seven years ago will still cost the same in petrol, insurance, servicing and consumables as a £75,000 one from this year! Many times more than the equivalents for a brand new £15,000 ford! I personally would not use non-genuine parts on my car when it gets older, even when it goes out of warranty. Shopping around for the best price on genuine parts is a different matter of course.

The only message to take home in the original article is to do your homework. That is always great advice (and something I always research before throwing hundreds or thousands of dollars away for re-labeled identical parts), but what must be understood is that the vast majority of buyers will not spend time researching labels, alternate suppliers and/or the “true P/N” for each part. They will just buy what they find. For those buyers, the answer is to purchase branded parts from a reliable source such as their BMW dealer or a well rated online parts seller. They may not get the best price using this strategy, but they are more likely to get the part they need.

A related story to the HID headlight bulb story in the article… Suspension parts. Many of the parts come from Lemforder. In many cases you can see how BMW adds a sticker to Lemforder’s package and magically, the same part now sells for 300% more than if you purchase the same part w/o the BMW sticker on it. That is one expensive sticker. *It is the right of any retailer to charge what ever price they want. However, no one says that you must buy it from them.


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