Shared Knowledge

" BMW - Researching Parts Online"

2 March 2013


Summary: always search parts by vehicle identification number (VIN). If website does not use VIN, don't use website. Even when VIN is used, like on a dealer website, not all parts associated with your vehicle may be listed. Might have to expand your search for same year, different engine size or other to find the part you need.



Have 1997 Z3 and 2000 X5.

Do not do all work on these cars but quite a bit and thus need parts from time to time.

With wealth of Internet websites offering parts, to include dealer parts catalog, always try to find parts online first. is a great source to begin any parts search because of their detailed drawings.

Note: on BMW, right and left is taken from being in the driver's seat. This way, no matter where in world or what side sterring wheel is on, right is always right and left is always left.


Searching online or at dealer for parts:

Always, always, use VIN to search Internet for parts. If website does not use VIN, don't use website.

BMW, probably like most car manufacturers, use different parts on a specific model over the years or in cases months. Without using the VIN, which includes the date the car was built, you may easily order the wrong part. An example of this is O2 sensors. BMW has used 2 different types on the Z3 and if you order and install the wrong one, your check engine light (CEL) will come on.

Recently had fire in garage and Z3 was damaged.

On the Z3, 2.8 liter I have there is a rubber hose that goes from the cooling fan on the electronic control unit (ECU) to the firewall, such that air from the cabin is used to cool the ECU and not outside air.

On the damage 1997 Z3, this part did not come up on RealOEM or on the local dealer's website. Only by searching various other models of Z3 in the same year did I find the part.

When I went to order from dealer, they protested that part not on my car but since I had defective part in my hand, they had to add part number to their catalog to be able to order it.


Make sure parts are correct:

Once you get the parts you have ordered, before the return policy time period runs out, make sure you got the right part by comparing it to your defective part.

I once ordered front calipers for the X5 and where sent calipers for the rear. Number used to order and so returned and got caliper for front to only find out it was also for rear. Part number was wrong in retailer's database.



Ron - Shared Knowledge Home