Where to get parts? OEM or not OEM..

I recently had an MOT on my E36 328is 1996, (101k on it) and it passed needing new bulbs, although I have received an advice note from the tester indicating parts that they think will need to be looked at before the next
MOT. On the advice note I have says all these things are too minor to fail the test:
Track Rod Ends has very slight play, both sides. Rear shock slightly damp (small leak).
He also said that the car is the age for the rear trailing arm bushes too and although they seem ok now, might be worth changing those too.
I've also got some very minor signs of clutch wear.. SO.. Since I am thoroughly in love with this vehicle and I'm going to be keeping it quite some time I decided to have a look for the parts, and buy them, and fit them slowly during the year. THIS is where I need your help!
BMW want 70 + vat each side for the Track Rod Ends, I have found no such part on German French and Swedish Car Parts, but I have been told that the "Tie Rod Ends" are in fact the same part, is this true? The main thing here is that the GSF part is 17.99 + vat each side! Massive difference between that and the BMW part. Now are these parts the same? Is the difference in price just mark-up? Or is there a distinct difference in part quality?
I am concerned because of this difference in price.. I have other quotes for clutch 110, bushes at the rear 25 ish for the pair, and the shock (I assume I would be getting a pair for the back?) 35 each...
Can anyone advise me on these parts.. I would really appreciate it..
Thank you
Craig
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Can't answer this individual query, but I've used Eurocarparts discs and pads which are also a fraction of BMW prices. And they've been fine. Doubt that BMW make the parts you need so they might well be from the same maker as the cheaper ones, but in a very expensive BMW box...
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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"Track Rod Ends has very slight play, both sides."
This doesn't mean they are knackered. If they are a bit loose that's normal, they should be replaced when the ball starts knocking in and out of the socket.
The rear trailing arm bushes cannot be diagnosed as faulty purely on mileage or be visual inspection. You'll know when they're in need of replacement as you'll get a knock from the rear when you accelerate, you may have odd tyre wear on the rear tyres and in severe cases, the rear axle will feel like it's floating and not really connected to the car.
The rear trailing arm bushes were a problem on many early e36's, but newer ones had the redesigned rear trailing arm bushes which had a metal casing round the rubber bush, making them much stronger and longer lasting than the earlier, all rubber design.
Most suspension/steering parts are made by BMW by a company called 'LEMFORDER' (or something similar!), so as long as you use those parts, you are getting the OEM bits but without the BMW stamp and price. Euro's and GFS usually do 2 options, OEM quality and a cheapo version - the OEM ones can be OK, but avoid the cheaper parts form Eurocarparts, etc, as they don't last as long, so it's a bit of a false economy.
Clutches are usually SACHS I think too, so again replacement SACHS will be jsut as good - Euros sell some other make (name escapes me right now) but they are used in Peugeots, etc....so have not rightful place in Munich's finest!
OTher parts such as the viscous fan coupling are made by SACHS, and I know when I replaced mine some years back the GFS unit was exactly the same SACHS unit....
It's always worth checking with a BMW parts dealer what make the original bits are and asking these parts places who makes theirs.
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Oh, forgot to say. Suspension parts be wary of...if you are replacing them with aftermarket ones, stick with Bilstein for shocks and Eibach for springs.
Bremob discs work well with the OEM calipers and pads....
Which reminds me, Eurocarparts sell ATE pads - and whilst the OEM calipers are made by ATE, the pads themselves are not. At no point have ATE been an OEM brake pads supplier for BMW.
The ATE discs are Ok.
I had ATE pads on my e39, thinking they were and OEM brand, and they used to knock and rattle due to excessive movement when seated in the caliper - so avoid! OEM pads are made by JURID.
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There's not any play in a trackrod end in good condition. I'd replace any one which had - they're hardly expensive.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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yeah, but if they've not been off before, they can be a pig to get off.
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I've never had this problem. Do you mean splitting the taper or unscrewing it off the trackrod?
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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unscrewing it off the trackrod.
They can get rusted pretty solid and you end up buggering the threaded end of teh steering rack to which the it's attached (this can be replaced too though, so not the end of the world).
If you're going to change them, give each track rod end a good soaking in WD40 for a few nights before you try moving them.
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But it screws onto the track rod - not the rack. And I'm not quite sure how you'd damage that thread?

I'd use heat. The track rod end is going to be replaced so damage to it doesn't matter.
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

I'd use the locking screw screwed in from the other side with a plate in the gap so tightening the screw opens the clamp from the threaded adjuster.
I agree that any play is usually a bad thing although I have to be cynical and say that maybe the garage was simply touting for business.
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On Wed, 11 Jan 2006 09:39:51 +0000 (GMT), "Dave Plowman (News)"

I second that...
20 seconds of propane blow torch and a good belt with a hammer.
Dodgy.
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Russ (www.e36coupe.com) wrote:

My advice? Don't. Replace the whole tie-rod including the inner joint. They are pretty inexpensive and less work to replace then just the end.
Don't
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Are these readily available? On my other non BMW wear on the inner ball joint required a replacement rack assembly - I couldn't source an inner balljoint/trackrod. Any suppliers in the US I could have a browse through?
But in the UK, track rod ends are pretty cheap and I've never found them difficult to remove.
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Yeah, they are easy to come by (at least for E36es). The only tricky thing is finding a wrench the right size to torque the new ones on. Then there is that sheet metal keeper thingee that you have to bend so it doesn't come loose later.
Here:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/New-BMW-E36-318-325-328-M3-Tie-Rod-Assemblies_W0QQitemZ8028162513QQcategoryZ33593QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
The ends are about half the price of the whole rods but you also only are replacing half the number of joints then. When I did mine I wanted to do it once.
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