Decking out your BMW with the latest accessories shouldn’t cost you an extravagant amount. And that’s not even considering accessories that are no longer made or are intended for older models. Locating rare or old BMW accessories can be harder than finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. If you want your car to look great, function well and offer maximum comfort without draining your finances in the process, follow a few tips for locating rare BMW accessories at inexpensive prices.
The Internet has made locating rare accessories, such as early model head or tail lights, fairly simple. If you know the description of the accessory you need, run it through a search engine or an online auction site. If all you know is you need floormats that fit a certain-model BMW, as an example, just type in the BMW model and “floormats.” You will still find plenty of options.
Before you click “buy,” spend some time researching price and quality. Review the seller — do customers come back more than once, and do they leave positive reviews? Are the accessories used, and if so, are they high enough quality that you’d trust them to last? Take note of the cheapest listings, but look into some mid-priced sellers, too, particularly the ones with fair return policies and guarantees. The cheaper sellers could prove less reliable if they’re selling counterfeit or worn-down parts.
Contact a Wholesaler or Reseller
Whether you really can’t find the accessory you’re looking for or you don’t like the prices you’re finding, it doesn’t hurt to contact a wholesaler or reseller to see if they can locate the accessory for you. Perhaps they haven’t listed the newly acquired accessory on their website, or they can place a special order for precisely what you need. If they know that you can get a part for slightly cheaper elsewhere, they’ll be willing to negotiate. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Consider OEM and Aftermarket Accessories
Don’t limit yourself to BMW-manufactured accessories, especially when it comes to standard items like trim accents and pedals. BMW-made accessories are going to be among the most expensive on the market for your car. Plus, BMW might not be interested in making all of the accessories you want for your vehicle, especially if your BMW is a few years old and the factory is focusing on newer models. If it made accessories for your model in the past or if it’s stopped making them now, the rarity will drive up the cost on the secondhand market. Instead, consider your options:
- OEM. OEM, which stands for “original equipment manufacturer,” is equipment made by a third party but licensed by BMW. In other words, OEM accessories for your model of BMW must fit all the specifications that authentic BMW parts do. OEM is slightly more expensive than aftermarket items but still less expensive than BMW factory items. With OEM, you can rely on accessories that will fit and function, as well as come with a year-long guarantee.
- Aftermarket: These third-party manufacturers do not get BMW’s approval, but that doesn’t mean the parts aren’t good. They’re cheaper even than OEM parts — sometimes as much as 60-percent cheaper. If you buy from a reliable seller, you should be able to send them back for a refund or exchange if you don’t find these parts to your liking.
Beware of Shoddy Accessories
Some are aftermarket items are made cheaply, and they could break or prove ill-fitting for your car. Here are some tips to avoid wasting money on subpar accessories:
- Avoid prices that seem too good to be true. Quality aftermarket accessories are much cheaper, but they shouldn’t be ridiculously cheap.
- Avoid unreliable sellers. The more upfront a seller is about his identity — if it’s a wholesale or resell business, for example — and the more fair the return policies and guarantees are, the less likely you are to purchase an inferior piece in the first place.
- Look for loose stitching, wires or bolts on the pictures of the accessories. If they are poorly made, avoid buying them.
About the Author: Ricky McKinney is a contributing blogger as well as an automobile technician. He has been employed by a few luxury-car dealerships.