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Genuine vs. OEM vs. OE vs. Aftermarket BMW Parts

When a part breaks on your BMW, you probably want to replace it with the best replacement part available to ensure it doesn’t break again, right?

Cars break frequently, which creates a huge market for replacement car parts, which ultimately results in there being a lot of companies that manufacture parts, which can make it difficult in determining which part is the best, highest quality, and most reliable part for your car.

In the BMW world, you will generally hear about 4 different types of parts: Genuine BMW parts, OEM BMW parts, OE BMW parts, and Aftermarket BMW parts.

We’re going to detail out the difference between all these parts options so that you can make the most informed BMW part buying decision.


What are Genuine BMW Parts?

Buyers who don’t care about price, only quality, always ask for the Genuine BMW parts. Genuine BMW parts are branded by BMW, however, it does not mean that they are manufactured by BMW. BMW outsources the majority of the part manufacturing, so very rarely is a genuine part ever actually manufactured by BMW.

Genuine BMW parts are manufactured by, and only by, the manufacturer that BMW chose to manufacture the part. BMW holds these companies to extremely high quality standards, so the parts are usually of the best, original equipment, quality.

However, these parts are the most expensive parts because they are BMW branded! Which means, you are paying more simply for the comfort of having the brand on the part that you buy. These are the exact same parts you would get if you went and bought them at a local BMW dealership.


What are OE BMW Parts?

OE BMW parts are exactly the same as Genuine BMW parts, but they have the logo or brand scratched off of them.

An OE manufacturer might make 10,000 control arms, all with “BMW” branded on them, but then BMW says “oh, well we only need 7,000 of them”. So 3,000 control arms sit in the manufacturers inventory that dealerships aren’t going to buy. What do they do with them?

The manufacturer isn’t allowed to sell these to anyone other than BMW, because it has the brand on the part and doing so would be a licensing violation. So, they physically scratch the BMW brand off of the product, so that they are not violating licensing agreements, and then sell these to parts stores like ourselves to sell to end consumers.

These parts are usually more difficult to come by as there is always a limited quality of leftover, unsold parts that BMW didn’t buy direct from the manufacturer.


What are OEM BMW Parts?

This is where it might get somewhat confusing. OEM BMW parts are parts manufactured by companies that are OE suppliers to BMW. In some cases this is the same manufacturer that is making the Genuine and OE parts, and sometimes it isn’t.

Because these parts are manufactured by someone who is an OE provider to BMW, the company making them has been vetted and verified under BMW’s stringent quality requirements.

In short, OEM BMW parts are made of the highest quality standards, and are specifically approved by BMW.

When you purchase BMW parts online, the vast majority of the time you are getting an OEM BMW part.


What are Aftermarket BMW Parts?

Aftermarket parts are parts that are not made by OE or OEM manufacturers. This means they are not held to BMW’s rigorous quality standards. However, this does not mean that the parts are worse than the OEM counterparts.

Aftermarket parts are usually going to be the lowest cost option, which is great for people on a budget. While aftermarket does not mean it’s a bad part, some do have a reputation for being low quality and failing more frequently that OEM parts.

With that being said, there are some aftermarket parts that are better than the OEM ones. It just depends.

If you are on a budget, these parts are for you.


What do we recommend?

We generally don’t push the Genuine BMW brand because they are overly expensive simply due to the fact they have the BMW name on them, while a lot of times are an equivalent quality as an OEM brand.

Overall, OE and OEM are our favorite and are the best mix of quality and price.


List of Most Common OE BMW Part Manufacturers: