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Understanding The VIN

by james on 02 Sep 2016
Understanding the VIN   Every vehicle manufactured since 1954 carries a unique identifier, the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).  Since 1979 there has been a global VIN standard so that all VIN’s follow the same format.  The VIN, as its name suggests, identifies the car uniquely, and the manufacturer releases information associated with the VIN.  As manufacturers offer an increasingly wide and deep set of ‘options’ with new vehicles, the VIN becomes more and more important in identifying which parts fit which particular vehicle.   Fortunately for me (and for you, too), MINI and Porsche have stuck to fairly well defined formulae for their cars, so that a lot of the time components such as brakes, clutches and service items can be identified by knowing the car’s model and year.  One notable distinction is identifying the correct steering column switch assembly for 986 Boxster and 996 series 911’s.  In these cars there were 4 different switch assemblies offered: Two lever switch Three lever switch with cruise control Four lever witch with cruise control and onboard computer Three lever switch with onboard computer but no cruise control (this option was mostly fitted to GT3 models)   The manufacturers work with their chosen software partner to make the information available, usually at a price.  So, if you want to look up Porsche information, filtered by VIN, you can subscribe to a service called Partslink24, which provides parts diagrams for every roadgoing model Porsche ever built, from the 356 up to the new (at the time of writing) Boxster and Cayman 718.  (Taking time out en route to geek out over the 959, Carrera GT and 918.)   MINI owners can also use Partslink24 to get information about their cars, but if you have a MINI, you can also get car-specific information at http://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/select (Note that MINI’s are searchable by the serial number, which is the last 7 characters of the VIN).   The following table breaks down the 17 characters of the VIN:   Char Value/Meaning 1 Manufacturer identifier MINI use WMW Porsche use WP0 for sports cars, WP1 for SUV’s 2 3 4 General vehicle characteristics.  Australian Porsches will all have ‘ZZZ’ in position 4-6 and the first 2 characters of the model code, followed by a Z in position 9. 5 6 7 8 9 10 Position 10 – 17 are used for vehicle specific information. 11 12 13 14 15 16 17   …and here is a sample Porsche VIN in detail:   W Germany (‘W’ is a carry over from West Germany) P Porsche 0 Sports Car Z These three are always Z for Australian delivered cars Z Z 9 First two characters of the model type 9 Z Always a Z for Australian delivered cars B 2011 model year S Made in Stuttgart 7 Third character of the model type – so this car is a 997 1 Not used in Australia 3 Serial number (designates vehicle type in US market) 1 8 2   Fortunately, for most of the parts sold by Master Parts, it’s enough to know your car’s model year, but if you are ever unsure of the correct part for your car, feel free to call, email or contact us online to identify the right part for your car.

Who Made This?

by james on 22 Dec 2015
Who Made This?   In the world of medicine, you will often have the choice between brand name drugs or generic equivalents.  Developing new (pharmaceutical drugs) is big business.  To protect the company’s investment in R&D, the drug company has a window during which their patented drug may not be copied.  The drug company has a short-lived monopoly, and generally prices the drug the way you would expect a monopolist to price, i.e, they charge like a wounded bull.  Once the patent expires, other companies may market their versions of the drug and all those lovely free market forces come into play, so generic drugs are usually vastly cheaper than the brand name drug.   With drugs, unless you are an analytical chemist, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are buying.  (Although if you want to test for fake little blue pills, it’s not hard.)  Judging by the enormous numbers of spam emails which I receive for gentlemen’s strengthening tablets, there is an enormous market out there for fake pharmaceuticals.  And where a generic drug contains the same active ingredient as the brand name equivalent, a fake drug is exactly that: a sugar coated piece of chalk.   There’s a strong incentive to make fake drugs: the margins are enormous.  I don’t know what the chalk costs, but having researched this stuff, for purely academic reasons, I suspect I am in the wrong business entirely.  The little blue pills sell for around $4 each.  That’s good margin for chalk!   In the world of car parts, it’s a similar story, with hopefully a lot less spam involved.  The pecking order for car parts goes mostly like this: Genuine Parts OEM Parts Aftermarket Parts Fake Parts   Genuine parts carry the marque’s branding.  For some parts, there is no option.  If you want a steering column switch for your Porsche Boxster or 996, it’s a genuine Porsche part.   OEM parts are the same parts as fitted in the factory, but with the manufacturer’s branding.  If you buy a genuine MINI oil filter, you get a Mahle filter in a MINI box.  If you buy genuine Porsche brake pads, you get either Pagid or Textar pads in a Porsche box.  What you don’t get with OEM parts is the ‘genuine’ price.  This is why Master Parts sells OEM parts as far as possible.    Aftermarket parts covers a broad range, from high quality items manufactured by reputable brands, to parts that are just plain junk.  If a Mahle oil filter for a particular car is not the factory fitment, then that filter is not OEM, but it can get murky.  F’rinstance if Porsche use a Mahle oil filter for one model, and a Mann cabin air filter, then Mahle are OEM for oil filters, but aftermarket for cabin filters for that model.  Some aftermarket parts are indistinguishable from OEM (and genuine) parts, and in some cases it doesn’t really matter.  Cabin air filters are probably a good example.  There’s probably very little down side risk to using an aftermarket cabin air filter, but you’d be brave if you made it your mission in life to seek out the cheapest oil filter for your car.   The tricky thing with the term ‘aftermarket’ parts is that it covers everything from totally unserviceable items that bear a passing resemblance to useful car parts to items that are substantial improvements over the factory fitted items.  Within the Master Parts range, examples of aftermarket parts that are upgrades from factory fit items are: Numeric Racing shifters and cables for 996/7 and 986/7 models BMP aluminium coolant reservoirs for R53 MINI Cooper S L and N Engineering IMS bearing updates for 996 and 986 model Porsches   And then there are fake parts.  Piracy in car parts really does exist.  I’ve been shown examples of fake oil filters, air filters, clutch components and brake pads.  It goes without saying that buying fake parts is just not worth it.  Of course, nobody would knowingly buy fake parts but the old wisdom holds true: if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.   So, the question arises: If you have a choice, which car parts should you buy?  The answer is simple:  First prize is OEM, where this is available.  You get genuine part quality without genuine part prices.  If OEM is not available, look for OEM equivalent aftermarket parts.  Within the parts you’ll find on materparts.com.au we’ve made every effort to indicate the part’s manufacturer, and if you are interested in a part that doesn’t have a manufacturer identified, please ask.  

April 2013

Gen 1 MINI Cooper S - R50 or R53?

 by james on 22 Apr 2013 |
2 Comment(s)
Over the last two weeks or so I have spoken with three people who have been looking for parts for their R50 Cooper S.  The first generation of BMW MINI Cooper S was (and is) the R53.  But there are cars out there with ID plates - I suspect that they are Aussie compliance plates rather than factory build plates - which identify them as R50 cars.  More intriguingly, I've heard of early and late cars identifying themselves as R50's when they are R53's. Now, I'm a car geek and a bit of an automotive nerd.  And I kind of have to be if I am to have any chance of being able to help people choose the right parts for their car.  I really don't want to argue with customers 'cause that's no way to win people over but sometimes conversations just get off on the wrong footing, and from that point it's hard to pull them back.  More importantly, it matters because a Cooper S will use different brake, clutch and some engine components. If your car claims to be an R50 and it has a supercharger and a six speed gearbox, it's a Cooper S, and it's an R53.  Beyond that, your car's serial number (the last seven characters of the VIN, which consists of two letters followed by five digits) will always provide an unambiguous identification of whether the car is an R50 or an R53. Maybe MINI got it right with the second generation of cars after all - the second generation cars (well, the hatchbacks, anyway) have model number R56 for "justa" and Cooper S cars alike.

Braking News!

 by Master Parts on 05 Apr 2013 |
No Comment
This newsletter is guaranteed to make you stop! In this newsletter: An explanation of how brake pad sensors work, courtesy of Biff and Bash. Brake kits for Porsches and MINI Performance brake options for Porsches and MINI New store section - workshop supplies and tools Brake Pad Sensors If you have a car equipped with brake pad sensors (also known as brake warning wires), you will see a brake warning light on the dash when it's time to replace the pads.  This video with Biff and Bash explains how brake pad sensors work.   Brake Kits If your car needs new brakes, Master Parts brake kits bundle pads, discs and pad sensors to save you 10% off the component prices.  Plus, we've been able to reduce prices on many Porsche brake components.   Kits are available for Porsche and MINI models. Performance Brakes Drilled or slotted discs and motorsport spec Pagid RS pads are now available in the Brakes and Motorsport sections for Porsche and MINI You will also find performance discs and pads in the Brakes section for your model of car.  If your car isn't yet catered for and you'd like to upgrade your braking performance, reply to this email and let us know what you're after. Workshop Supplies and Tools This new section of the web store currently offers a varierty of sizes of hose clamp, oil filte removal tools and nitrile rubber gloves.  Nitrile rubber is not dissolved by oils, keeps your hands clean and protects them from the nasties found in used engine oil.  In the next few weeks this section of the store will expand with a range of quality hand tools and workshop manuals. You received this email 'cause you're currently signed up for Master Parts newsletters.  You can unsubscribe from this message - we do not spam, and will never give your email address to anybody else.  Not ever.  Not even for money!
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All pictures and references to the brands and logos are for reference only, and do not imply any association with the brandholders. Most parts offered are OEM or quality aftermarket parts.  Genuine Porsche or MINI parts are specifically identified as such.  Master Parts  is not responsible for any typographical errors contained within the site.   Information within this website is for reference only.   It is your responsibility to verify that you are technically competent to carry out repair and maintenance procedures.  By entering this site, you agree to hold Master Parts free from any liability arising out of the use of any information contained within.
 
Master Parts is Australian owned and operated in Australia, for Australian customers.
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