Why Most Aftermarket Parts Are a Bad Idea for Your BMW


Once you’ve owned a BMW, you know there’s no going back. They’re incredibly comfortable, convenient, and powerful, but they’re also more reliable than many other makes. They’re engineered with precision until perfection, and that applies to everything from the interior to the drivetrain. Granted, even Bimmers break down and need parts replaced from time to time, but that’s just part of owning a vehicle.

While it’s true that genuine BMW parts tend to be more expensive than other makes and aftermarket parts, the quality makes it worth owning a Bimmer. Still, you have four options when you need a part: genuine, OE, OEM, and aftermarket. In most cases, genuine BMW parts are ideal, but if you’ve never considered OE or OEM parts, they are also good options.

The good news is many dealership alternatives use genuine BMW and OE parts. Ultimately, the only parts you should be concerned about are aftermarket parts.

What are aftermarket parts?

Aftermarket parts are not made by the original manufacturer, nor are they made under contract by the manufacturer. Anyone can launch a business and start making car parts, and these are considered aftermarket.

The biggest problem with aftermarket parts is that there is no quality testing; sometimes vehicle modifications can be dangerous and even deadly. For example, aftermarket oil filters can completely collapse and restrict oil flow, and modifying your car with aftermarket parts makes you more likely to cause an accident, incur costly repairs, and pay higher insurance premiums.

Not all aftermarket parts are bad, however. In fact, since there are so many manufacturers making aftermarket parts, sometimes you can find quality products in the mix. There are also plenty of good aftermarket parts for modifying your vehicle. However, you really need to know how to navigate the market to find the good parts. The average person won’t be able to tell the difference.

What are genuine BMW parts?

Genuine BMW parts are parts you buy directly from a BMW dealer. It doesn’t mean the part was made by BMW, but just that the parts were made for BMW. Genuine BMW parts bought from an authorized retailer come with a 24-month warranty that still applies to the part even when the car changes ownership.

Most genuine parts aren’t made by BMW, but are made by contracted manufacturers. In fact, most vehicle brands have most, if not all of their parts made by other manufacturers. Since you get genuine parts from the dealer, they’re automatically going to be more expensive.

What are OE parts?

OE stands for Original Equipment, and OE parts are identical to genuine parts minus the BMW logo. When BMW contracts with a manufacturer to make a part, say spark plugs, the manufacturer ships a bunch of parts to BMW with the BMW logo. They also hang on to some of those parts and put their own logo on them before selling them to individuals and stores. These OE parts are exactly the same as genuine parts, but when they have the manufacturer’s logo, they are considered OE.

What are OEM parts?

The term “genuine” can be misleading because it makes some people think OEM parts are bad. OEM is an acronym for Original Equipment Manufacturer, and these parts are usually just as good or better than genuine BMW parts. BMW contracts with other companies to make parts for their vehicles and the result is, for example, spark plugs made by Bosch, brake pads made by Jurid, and shocks made by Sachs. The companies that make these parts did so to BMW’s specifications, but they cost less than genuine parts.

The thing you want to watch out for is when suppliers imply their parts are OEM by using slick statements like “OEM Quality.” Phrases like this, including “meets or exceeds OEM standards” are red flags and these parts should be avoided.

Using OE, OEM, and aftermarket parts won’t void a warranty

You may have noticed a warning label on your BMW cautioning you against using any parts that are not genuine BMW parts for “safety” and “warranty” reasons. It’s true that aftermarket parts can compromise your safety because sometimes those parts don’t fit properly, and the materials are cheaper and wear down much faster.

However, despite what dealerships will tell you, using aftermarket parts can’t void a warranty. Your warranty won’t be void by using OE or OEM parts, either, but aftermarket parts should still be avoided. If you want to save money on parts, go with OE or OEM for the best price while still getting parts you know are approved by BMW.

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