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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

So what are your opinions on aftermarket parts versus OEM? Does anybody here buy aftermarket (say from eBay, Amazon, etc.)? Would you only buy some things aftermarket but stay away from others?

My own opinions on the subject are this: If the OEM parts were so terrific, they wouldn't fail at such a high rate compared to, say, a Honda or Toyota (never had a vacuum line crumble when working on a Honda). BMW's engineering is very good, but let's be real they aren't perfect and they don't make most of the parts on the vehicles anyway. Other German companies like Behr, Wahler, Meyle and ATE make many of the parts and they are as human as the next company. Whether these parts fail because of cost-cutting measures by BMW or because BMW hasn't engineered them well enough is hard to say (I mean, a frickin plastic and aluminum radiator??).

So I approach the OEM parts with a certain degree of skepticism. When it comes to something with a sensor built into it, like a MAF or a thermostat with a heated element, I'd have to go with OEM for sure. I've had an Indian-made eBay thermostat throw a P1620 code on my E46. But when it comes to simpler parts like a rubber valve cover gasket or the plastic CCV tubes or even the rubber & plastic radiator hoses, I'd go aftermarket. The OEM ones fail just like any other.

What is your opinion?

Have you gone with aftermarket parts and had an earlier failure than you should have? If so, please share your story.

-Jason
 

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You have to research every item. For instance, I would never run a Chinese-made wheel, but I have no problem saving $50 by buying an ambient temperature at Pep Boys rather than buying it at the dealer.
 

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I have gone with a after market expansion tank from pepboys. Terriable idea that ended up costing me exactly $2008.30 because the tank was not holding pressure after a month.Never again will i go after market.
 

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As bad as some of the original parts are, they are almost always better quality than aftermarket parts, especially the cheap Chinese crap. The minor savings in dollars is rarely worth the inferior quality and risk of failure. I speak from experience here. I had to replace an engine because of a failed aftermarket coolant expansion tank burst and overheated the engine warping the head. I don't know of many aftermarket parts that are better than geniune on an E46, though there probably are a few.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have gone with a after market expansion tank from pepboys. Terriable idea that ended up costing me exactly $2008.30 because the tank was not holding pressure after a month.Never again will i go after market.
Do you know which brand that was?
 

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I don't think there can be a blanket statement that OEM is better, and aftermarket is terrible. sometimes the aftermarket will address a known issue that the OEM designed poorly.
like this expansion tank issue; some say to only use OEM, but the OEM is also a known failure point; maybe an aftermarket one could be designed better? not saying yes, just saying that would be a typical place where the aftermarket may be able to address a need, since BMW isn't going to spend the R&D on an older model, but for the aftermarket, that is their bread and butter.
and although I USED to feel that country of origin was a main factor in making a decision, I don't think that is true in all cases.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't think there can be a blanket statement that OEM is better, and aftermarket is terrible. sometimes the aftermarket will address a known issue that the OEM designed poorly.
like this expansion tank issue; some say to only use OEM, but the OEM is also a known failure point; maybe an aftermarket one could be designed better? not saying yes, just saying that would be a typical place where the aftermarket may be able to address a need, since BMW isn't going to spend the R&D on an older model, but for the aftermarket, that is their bread and butter.
and although I USED to feel that country of origin was a main factor in making a decision, I don't think that is true in all cases.
I absolutely agree with you. And I have an example case. Ford makes a 4.6L engine that's in the Mustang, Explorer, Crown Vic, etc. The intake manifolds are plastic and have a coolant passage on the front. The plastic in the coolant passage melts or cracks where it meets the head and ends up leaking coolant. Dorman makes an aftermarket unit with an aluminum coolant passage. That's a perfect example of the aftermarket improving on things. Another example would be the water pump on the E46 with the plastic impeller that shatters and the aftermarket part with a metal impeller.

And we all need to get over the whole Made in China thing. Seriously, what isn't made in China these days? You really think Raybestos brakes are made here? Germany is the only other place where things are made, and they really aren't much better now that I'm noticing.

I also agree that it's definitely a part-by-part thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8

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Yeah, +1 on not using country of origin to determine whether or not a part is good. Just check out my recent review on Gates hoses, an American brand (unsure of the part's country of origin though)

Another thing to think about is OEM vs OEM. For example, I've upgraded a number of suspension prts in my 330ci to either M3 or ZHP spec when mine have worn out. Suspension is one place where aftermarket can be better and a better deal than OE. I'm loving my Dinan Stage 1 suspension, and it's been solid for me. "Chinese" parts like URO? Only when it's not a part that's critical or subject to extreme conditions. I put in a URO power steering reservoir with no reservations. It's not a part bat gets high pressure or heat; I don't expect it to fail. And if it does, I won't be stranded.

For cooling, go OE for everything except maybe the radiator. I have a Behr and it seems solid, but even then the fitmebt wasn't 100% as smooth as the OE rad. My General rule is hat any part hat will leave you stranded by the side of the road, except for suspension, should be OE. starter? OE/OEM fuel pump? OE...
 

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all about research. there are definitely some quality aftermarket and ebay specials out there, and also things you should entirely avoid.

i have had very good luck with a variety of no-name brake rotors (with good brand name pads). the rebuilt calipers at advance auto are high quality reman BMW units and fairly cheap. i have had an aftermarket oil level sensor for 30k with no issues, in addition to aftermarket (not gates) upper and lower rad hoses, aftermarket expansion tank, wahler thermo, for 35k trouble free miles.

when to go oem or oem-equivalent brand names? most suspension parts, especially anything heavy duty like struts/shocks, control arms, etc. and i have not had good luck with most aftermarket gaskets, and gaskets are cheap anyway, so go OEM. if you have faded roundels, also go OEM, the chinese knockoffs peel/fade in under a year. this is just my experience.
 

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Ha... and while we're on Behr and their German made parts...

I was reading this thread:

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showpost.php?p=16529012&postcount=3

Which has a link to the genuine BMW expansion tank:

http://www.amazon.com/COOLANT-EXPANSION-Series-00-06-17117573781/dp/B00E3C79LE/ref=pd_sim_sbs_auto_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1BFEAK49QZ4S652JSA0F

Look closely at the zoomed in picture of the label on the expansion tank... says Behr, made in China!

except when you read the whole ad, it says it's hella


when you know this is a known weak point on the car, you get it straight from bmw , or a rep sponsor here


pay now or pay later , this is not a new concept
 

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Depends on the part.

Expansion tank? OE BMW.

Windshield washer pump? The $6 URO option is fine.

Suspension? Aftermarket Bilstein/Koni/H&R/Eibach all the way.

There is no blanket statement on this. Research each scenario individually.
 

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when you know this is a known weak point on the car, you get it straight from bmw
logic does not compute. now don't go running off to ebay and spend $30 on some random expansion tank, but i've had an aftermarket unit that was well reviewed (i believe from auto parts warehouse, which has user reviews) and it has been fine for 35k miles.

the bmw unit is fine as well if replaced on a schedule. i just don't understand the logic of, it is a known weak point, so be SURE to get the same exact one. :rofl:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think I can understand what they mean. It's like, you don't want an aftermarket expansion tank to crack when you're out driving. You are screwed. I've seen one or two reports of the tanks cracking but I'm glad to hear your report of the opposite. I was sure that experience existed.

Btw who makes the OE radiator?
 

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You have to research every item. For instance, I would never run a Chinese-made wheel, but I have no problem saving $50 by buying an ambient temperature at Pep Boys rather than buying it at the dealer.
I agree.

Depends on the part.
 

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Yeah, +1 on not using country of origin to determine whether or not a part is good. Just check out my recent review on Gates hoses, an American brand (unsure of the part's country of origin though).......QUOTE]

All the Gates E46 hoses (all 6 of them for our 328Ci anyway) are manufactured in Turkey. The clamps on the genuine BMW hoses I replaced were silver in color, the Gates hoses have black clamps. The hoses, including the green lettering appeared identical to the original BMW hoses I removed from our 328Ci recently. They fit perfectly with no leaks at all for close to 1800 miles now.
 

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logic does not compute. now don't go running off to ebay and spend $30 on some random expansion tank, but i've had an aftermarket unit that was well reviewed (i believe from auto parts warehouse, which has user reviews) and it has been fine for 35k miles.

the bmw unit is fine as well if replaced on a schedule. i just don't understand the logic of, it is a known weak point, so be SURE to get the same exact one. :rofl:
The logic is that the problem with the part is the design, not the manufacturing. When you buy a cheaper part from a substandard company with substandard methods and QC in an area where a problem already exists, you diminish the margin even further and end up with an absurdly high failure rate.
 

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It depends on the part. In general I try to avoid cheap Chinese parts (keep the cheap part in mind, there are quality Chinese parts available).

NGK and Denso are two brands I generally go with unquestionably. Never been let down or disappointed by any of their parts. FYI Denso owns the patent on iridium plugs.
Bosch I am OK with as far as O2 sensors and wipers. Bad experience with their spark plugs (Platinum +4).
Lemforder I have mixed feelings about. They are OEM. That being said, they have comfort in mind vs. performance and durability. Some parts like their control arm bushings I wouldn't even consider as a replacement unless you like changing parts frequently. Very expensive too.
Centric brakes, absolutely love them. Quality parts, never had a fitment or quality issue even on their low end.
MOOG is generally great stuff. I loathe their Problem Solver sway bar links; the boots suck.
Raybestos, generally great stuff. No bad experience with them. Similar to MOOG.
Timken, SKF, ***, National are all pretty much equal quality.
Uro Parts is touchy. If it's something simple like an o-ring that BMW will charge $4 for, I'll buy the Uro part. However I do not trust their suspension components or engine parts. Build quality looks poor. However they have a few items I am interested in, like the metal coolant pipe.
Febi-Bilstein parts appear to be very good quality. Have used their motor mounts and no issue to report.
Victor Reinz gaskets look to be decent quality. Not much I can say about them.

One thing in particular to talk about is reboxers. This is primarily Beck Arnley. You have to check it in person to see where it came from. I ordered a Beck Arnley CCV that was a reboxed Uro. Promptly returned. On the other hand, Beck Arnley ball joints for a Tercel were Sankei parts. I have received Bosch O2 sensors for $20 that were Standard Automotive Products brand. MOOG and Raybestos rebox some parts, though with quality parts like Lemforder. Timken and SKF have a tendency to rebox, albeit with quality brands (*** for German, NSK or Koyo for Japanese).
 

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The logic is that the problem with the part is the design, not the manufacturing. When you buy a cheaper part from a substandard company with substandard methods and QC in an area where a problem already exists, you diminish the margin even further and end up with an absurdly high failure rate.
:thanks:
 
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