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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.  

May 2015

Under Pressure - TPMS Details

 by james on 06 May 2015 |
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In this blog we take a look at tyre pressure monitoring systems.  This is likely to be of interest to you if you drive one of the following: •    Porsche Cayennes from 2003 onwards •    MINI R56 based models from Sept 2007 onwards •    Porsche 997 series 911's •    Porsche Boxster 987 or Cayman from 2005 onwards Or if, like me, you're a combination of car geek and (I admit it) nerd and just like to know about stuff. I'll start with some real nerdy geekery.  The first generation of BMW MINI's (R50, R53 and R52) were equipped with run flat tyres, and consequently needed tyre pressure monitoring.  Monitoring is needed because an under-inflated run flat tyre does not feel squishy and sloppy from the driver’s seat, but if driven at speed or for extended periods, the tyre will be destroyed.  An under-inflated run flat tyre should be driven to the nearest repair centre at a speed not exceeding 80km/h.  Instead of a “real” tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), first generation MINI’s used the ABS/stability control sensors to monitor tyre pressures by proxy.  When a run flat tyre loses air pressure, it does not collapse on itself the way a "regular" tyre does.  Without tyre pressure monitoring, a driver is unlikely to realise that pressure has been lost because of the stiffer tyre sidewalls.  Although run flat tyres do not collapse, with loss of pressure they do lose some of their effective diameter, and a lot of their strength.  As a result, a punctured run flat tyre will be rotating faster than the tyres that are at full pressure.  The car’s ABS system does the sums, realises that one wheel is rotating faster than the others, and warns of an underinflated tyre. Later cars – such as those listed above – use a pressure sensitive sensor mounted on the wheel.  When pressure drops below normal operating levels, the sensor signals the car’s brain, and the car signals the driver that all is not well.  The sensors have built in batteries, and need to be replaced from time to time, before voltage drop renders the sensor useless.   Cars equipped with tyre pressure monitoring systems usually do not have a spare wheel.  In some cases the spare tyre becomes an optional extra with a new car.  Instead, they are delivered with a container of tyre sealant (to seal leaks) and a small compressor to re-inflate the tyre.  In the event of a puncture, empty the sealant into the tyre, inflate and drive off.  Air pressure will force the sealant out of the puncture.  The sealant will react with the rubber in the tyre and with air to seal the leak.  The sealant is a “get you home” fix, not a permanent repair. There are a number of components in the system which need to be replaced periodically: •    The sealant should be replaced every 3-5 years.  Unused, it goes gloopy and hardens in the container. •    The batteries built into the TPMS sensors run out.  TPMS sensors should be replaced before this happens.  TPMS battery life is approximately 7 years. •    When replacing the TPMS sensor, the TPMS valve stems also need to be replaced.  They are made of an aluminium alloy.  In installation, the threaded section stretches, so they can’t be reused. MINI TPMS Components Sensors to Aug 2009 Part number 36236798726   Sensors from 2009 Part number 36106856227   MINI Tyre Sealant Part number 1099000 MINI TPMS Valve Stems Part number 36146792829 Porsche TPMS Components Sensors for 987 and 997 models (2005 – 2008) 99760602101 Sensors for 987 and 997 2009 to 2012 7PP907275F Sensors for Cayenne to 2007 95536166101 Sensors for Cayenne 2008 onwards 7PP907275F Porsche Tyre Sealant  Part number 95572263100 Porsche TPMS Valve Stems Part number 9P1601361A One last thing… Finally, if your car has TPMS sensors, be very wary of using aerosol tyre sealants, as they appear to be bad news for TPMS sensors.  Of course, if the choice is aerosol can or nothing, using an aerosol beats walking.  See this video for more info (I did warn you about the nerd thing!).  
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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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