If you have owned a BMW for any decent length of time you have probably realized that these vehicles just don’t compare to a Honda or a Toyota in terms of maintenance. BMWs are luxury vehicles with more bells and whistles, which means they have more faulty electronic parts. Labor is higher on German luxury brands in general, and BMW is no exception.
Finally, if you have owned a domestic vehicle before owning a BMW you have probably noticed how insanely expensive BMW parts are compared to domestic vehicle parts. I replaced an idle control valve on my Ford Ranger and the part cost me $30 bucks. I replaced the same part on my BMW and the part cost me $120!
BMW replacement parts are expensive because BMW typically uses high-end manufacturers (like Bosch or Bilstein), BMW is a smaller car manufacturer, many parts are imported, and BMW itself is branded as a high-end car manufacturer.
As you can see there are a lot of factors that go into the cost of BMW parts. It’s true that they are more expensive, but it’s also true that over the years I have found methods to save lots of money on BMW parts.
Why are BMW parts so expensive?
Well, one of the standard reasons given is that BMW parts are known for their quality and that is partly true. Some of BMWs OEM suppliers include Bosch, Behr, and Bilstein. These are widely considered to be high-quality manufacturers using better materials, and engineering their parts more meticulously than others.
Quality is certainly one of the important aspects of BMW parts pricing but there are several other considerations.
What makes a BMW a BMW? Sure, the driving experience is phenomenal compared to many other vehicles, and handling is exceptional, but BMW also brands itself extremely well. Most people when they think of a BMW they think of luxury or sports cars.
BMW would not be able to sell their cars or their parts at such a premium price if it had not successfully branded itself as a luxurious sports brand.
What I’m saying is that part of the reason BMW charges more for their parts is that it has branded itself so well and people are willing to pay a higher cost for parts.
Economics of Scale
BMW is a far smaller car manufacturer than Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Nissan or Honda. To illustrate, in 2018 BMW Group sold 2.8 million cars, Toyota sold more than 10 million and GM sold 8.3 million.
The other manufacturers I mentioned offer vastly more mass-produced cars in the $20-$25,000 price range whereas BMW does not offer any vehicles in that reduced price range. Lower production numbers and a variety of unique designs leads to higher-priced replacement parts.
Parts are Imported
In today’s economy where so much of what we consume is imported from overseas, you wouldn’t think that the fact that OEM BMW parts are produced overseas would raise prices much. Unfortunately I was unable to find a decent source on why exactly importing BMW replacement parts would raise prices significantly. You have transportation fees and potential tariffs to deal with, but the truth is many other car manufacturers import their OEM parts from Japan and China, and their parts are far cheaper than BMW.
So what can you do to reduce BMW parts cost?
Consider aftermarket parts
OEM is great and all but you certainly do not have to buy OEM for everything. My general rule is that for engine sensors I stick with OEM, but for plastic components, hoses, radiators, etc, I will buy aftermarket if there is a considerable price difference. You have to be careful of course, don’t go on eBay or Amazon and buy the absolute cheapest part you can find. The “too good to be true” priced part often is because it will break apart within a few months.
Check out this post for a more detailed guide on OEM v. Aftermarket parts.
Check out Amazon
Amazon has been the darling of my eye for the past few months now. Why? Because I started noticing that OEM manufacturers such as Bosch were selling their part directly on Amazon, and at prices far cheaper than either the dealership or my local auto parts store. It’s a dream come true when you can find an OEM Bosch part on Amazon for cheaper than the aftermarket at O’Reilly’s.
I love junkyards, if you are looking for a door panel, steering wheel, bumper, or a fender, you can save hundreds of dollars by getting the part at a junkyard! I only go to junkyards for certain types of parts, I typically stay away from anything electronic.
Junkyards are also excellent options if you need a drivetrain component, such as a transmission or differential. My advice to you for these parts is that you should enquire about the mileage on the vehicle and why exactly it ended up at a junkyard.
So now you know a few reasons why BMW parts tend to be more expensive than other cars. The quality of the parts, branding, the economics of scale, and the fact that the parts are imported combine to result in a higher price. But now you also have some tips to help you save money on BMW parts and avoid paying those outrageous dealership prices.