My job as the BMW Catalog Manager at FCP Euro makes it a necessity that I live and breathe BMW. However, even I can admit that I don't have the answers to everything. What I am good at is teaching myself and learning as I go. One such topic I learned this past year and have grown a deep understanding of is BMW's part numbering system for the BMW catalog we offer online.
BMW part numbers don't need to be complicated or anxiety-inducing. If you know what they are, but don't care to know what they mean, they can still be of help to you. If you know the unique BMW part number already and are looking for a replacement, you can simply plug that number into the search bar on FCP Euro and find a replacement for the part you are looking for. If you don't yet know the part number, you can use a BMW part number search tool such as Bimmercat or Realoem. Either of these websites will allow you to search catalogs of BMW parts diagrams and find the exact part along with the BMW part number that you're looking for. If you want to learn more about what the part numbers mean, read below.
What are BMW part numbers and what do they mean?
When most people look at a full 11-digit BMW part number, they see a bunch of random numbers thrown together to make a unique identifier. To a degree, this assumption is true, but there's more method than madness to the BMW part numbering system in practice.
The current BMW numbering system allows you to identify a part in as little as 7 numbers. Almost every BMW part has, at minimum, a 7-digit number printed on it that is always unique to the part itself. Below is an example of a common part on many BMWs—a fuel injector.
In the picture above, we have part number "13 53 7 585 261-12." Let's decode it!
- 13 = Main Group - Fuel Preparation and control (always specific to the fuel injection system)
- 53 = Sub Group - Fuel injector nozzles and lines (Can be a fuel injector, fuel injector seal, or another component related to fuel injectors)
- 7 585 261 - Unique 7-digit identifier (always unique to the part itself)
- -12 = Index Number - Revisions or changes done to the part under the current number (not all parts have an index number printed on them)
This basic number structure is the same for every BMW, MINI, and Rolls Royce part number. When customers give me a part number or they tell me what they are looking for, I already know where to look based on their description of the part. This pattern makes it easy to categorize the parts. If you are familiar with BMW's TIS system (parts documentation), it works in the same way. All sections start as a main group number, which are as follows:
BMW TIS Groups
- 01 Technical Literature
- 02 Scopes of Service and repair work (new category)
- 11 Engine Mechanical
- 12 Engine Electrical
- 13 Fuel Injection
- 16 Fuel Supply
- 17 Cooling System
- 18 Exhaust
- 21 Clutch
- 22 Engine and gearbox suspension
- 23 Standard Transmission
- 24 Automatic Transmission
- 25 Gearshift
- 26 Drive Shaft
- 27 Transfer case
- 28 Dual Clutch Transmission
- 31 Front suspension
- 32 Steering components
- 33 Rear suspension
- 34 Braking components
- 35 Pedals
- 36 Wheels
- 41 Bodywork
- 51 Vehicle trim
- 52 Seats
- 54 Sunroof/Convertible top
- 61 Body Electrical
- 62 Instrument Cluster
- 63 Lighting
- 64 Climate control
- 65 Audio, navigation, and electronic systems
- 66 Distance systems and cruise control
- 67 Window motors on newer BMW's (does not display in ETK but is a grouping number for parts)
- 71 Equipment parts
- 72 Restraint systems
- 82 Universal Accessories
- 84 Communication systems
- 88 BMW specific tools
This is how the main groups show up in BMW's WebETK, which can be accessed for free at BMW's International Website:
In addition to the parts lookup, using the main group to find parts BMW's technical database also uses the same structure. What this means is that if you understand the main groupings, you can quickly and easily find parts and technical data pertaining to your BMW, Mini, or Rolls Royce.
While the numbers may seem random at first glance, there is indeed some thought put into the system, and overall, I find BMW's part numbering system very intuitive and easy to decode (once you know the tricks).
If you have any questions about BMW's part numbering system, leave them in the comments below.
Gareth is the BMW Catalog Manager for FCP Euro and has been with the company since 2012. Gareth's BMW obsession started with a hand me down E39 528i when he was 17. From this car he learned how to do his own repair work while also learning more about BMW. When Gareth was at CCSU studying Marketing he had the opportunity to go to SEMA with the college car club. This is where he developed his love of the automotive industry. Since joining FCP in 2012 Gareth has sought out to develop one of the broadest and most accurate BMW replacement parts catalog. he can be reached at email@example.com