Üro Parts: Deserving of a second chance?

Low quality for a low price, or an underdog company getting ready to hit their stride?

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Like many other European car enthusiasts, I’ve had a negative opinion of Üro Parts for some time. It all started years ago, when I purchased various parts for my SAAB that either didn’t fit, or broke quickly. A Google search will show you that I’m not the only one who feels this way about them. I’m not going to link directly to those forums posts, mainly because I’m interested in giving them a second chance instead of dwelling on the time I had to change a headlight lens in the middle of winter, and the Üro brand lens and gasket wouldn’t attach the the housing, no matter how many times I begged Thor for help. (Thor’s Swedish, right?)

The impetus for this post was created by a private message I received on the E46Fanatics BMW forum after I created a thread called, simply, “Why I won’t buy Uro parts.” I’d been browsing through the websites of various parts vendors — as I’m wont to do — when I came across a picture of an upper intake boot. It looked, if I’m being generous, like an old bicycle inner tube. I posted the picture to the forum and voiced my general disdain for Üro Parts, which prompted a few others to join me.

Then, much to my surprise, I saw that I had a new private message waiting for me and, when I opened it, there was an offer from a Üro Parts representative to send me their new, improved intake boot for review. After confirming that this fellow was indeed who he said he was, I gave him my address and received the boot a few days later.


I took a bunch of pictures, but I won’t go into too much detail about each boot. They’re all very similar. The important thing, really, is that Üro turned this:

uro-1

uro-1-1

uro-1-2

uro-1-3

uro-1-4

Okay.

That was terrifying.

Anyway, they’ve turned that, into this:

13541705209


No, really, they did. I wouldn’t lie to you:

intakeboot-2
A boot worthy of a logo. (I kind of doubt they were even able to put a logo on that other one.)

 

intakeboot-1
Slightly uneven surface, but leaps and bounds ahead of that busted inner tube.

 

intakeboot-3
To quote Borat: Very nice.

So, there you have it. They really did fix it. I even took a look at the vendor, eEuroparts.com — they sound the same, but they’re completely different companies — and, apparently, they’ve updated that original photo as well.

Now, for comparison, the Rein (CRP) boot:

intakeboot-3-1
A bit smoother, but very similar. Notice the tube reduction to the left of the first ridge? This one is different from both the Üro and BMW boots. (Sorry for the color in this photo. I’m not sure what happened.)
crpcircled
I was short on time, so I didn’t take an extra picture, but you can somewhat see what it says where I circled: PVC+NBR. This boot is made from a combination of NBR and PVC. There’s also a manufacturing date printed on the edge of the boot in yellow, which I like.

Finally, the old BMW boot:

intakeboot-4

bmwcircled
Similar to the Rein boot, a statement of its material is cast into it. This one is just NBR. No date.

Because they’re all similar, and I don’t really know what the functional differences are between NBR+PVC and straight NBR, I’ll talk about what I do know.

The Üro Parts boot is roughly $15. Here’s a screenshot to prove it:

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-10-28-57-pm

That’s a problem. It’s the problem, really. It’s a problem because it’s not worth $15. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Honestly, it looks fine. I even put it in my car, because I really do want to see how it does:

intakeboot-1-1
I trusted it enough to install it.

Aside from being slightly looser at its connection points compared to the Rein/CRP boot, and maybe a bit softer/thinner, it fit perfectly. The fit difference was negligible, and the material feel might matter, or it might not. Only time will tell.

The Rein boot is the same price, roughly $15. And, as you were able to see in that first screen shot, the Genuine BMW boot is about $20.

This is where the problem arises. The Üro boot comes from a company with a poor reputation. There was no country of origin listed on the boot itself, or the bag it came in. (After communicating with the rep from Üro parts, he confirmed that the boot is manufactured in China. There’s a somewhat ambiguous “CN” above the bar code on the bag it came in, but I hadn’t even noticed it.) There’s no material declaration cast into the boot. There’s no date of manufacture.

Why, then, would I buy it? I hate to say this, but I wouldn’t.

I hate to say it because I have some optimism about this company, especially after this experience. A company representative went out of his way to message me on a car forum, privately, to ask if I would be willing to review their updated, improved design.

Regardless of where they’re making it, or any other factors, that means something.

The CRP/Rein boot is better, of course, because the casting is a bit better, it has a material declaration and date of manufacture on it, a county of origin declaration on the packaging (Turkey), and it’s made by one of the biggest automotive parts companies in the world. But the main thing that makes the Üro parts boot sub-par, here, is its price. It just isn’t worth what the CRP boot is. Why would anyone decide to spend $5 less and buy the Üro boot over the Genuine BMW boot? And why, if you wanted to save $5 — like I did when I bought the Rein/CRP boot — would you opt for the Üro part?

So here are my thoughts.

Üro is making an effort to improve their image and, hopefully, their products. They have a few parts that are actually better than their competition, like their aluminum water pump pulley for the BMW M54 motor, and their “Premium” window regulators for various BMW models. There’s nothing more American than a comeback story, and I want to see that for any company, even one like Üro Parts that I spent a good amount of time cursing in the past. I even noticed, while looking through their site in preparation for this post, that they’re making an actual valve cover for the M54 engine. I asked the rep about this, and he confirmed that they’re the only aftermarket parts company that makes one. Is the quality any good? I have no idea. (That’s a part I would truly love to review. The intake boot is child’s play, comparatively.) But the price comes into play there, as well. At ECStuning, the Üro valve cover is only about $80 less than the Genuine BMW version. It’s cheaper at Bavarian Auto, at roughly half the price of Genuine BMW, which is more expensive there than it is at ECS. This part should be about $175-$200, in my opinion, to make is truly competitive.

So here’s my free advice to Üro parts:

Stay focused on making better parts. The aluminum water pump pulley is brilliant, as are the window regulators. (People have had some issues with the regulators, but they do come with a lifetime warranty.) Make premium parts, price them competitively against the Genuine BMW and better aftermarket pieces, and provide a lifetime warranty. People don’t want a questionable $15 intake boot when they can spend $5 more for Genuine BMW, or the same amount for a part from a huge, trusted company like CRP/Rein.

Also, Viton. Make Viton gaskets. The valve cover gasket for the M54 is known to be a hard, brittle piece of plastic by 80k miles. The same goes for the oil filter housing gasket. People would pay you the same price they would for a Genuine BMW gasket, even with cheaper options on the market, if you made a Viton gasket that they knew they could trust for  150K+ miles. Labor is important to us. We don’t care very much about the cost of a part when we know we have to spend hours installing it. Even with something negligible, like this upper intake boot, where it only takes ten minutes to get the old one out and the new one in. We’ll opt for the better one, unless you can sell it for half the price or less. Research. Find the parts that are flawed, that we’re upset about. Tweak them. Make yours better. We’ll happily buy them. Crappy gaskets, front control arm bushings, window regulators, plastic water pump pulleys. These are the parts that need to be improved, and you can do it. Why would we pay a premium for Genuine BMW parts if yours are improved and sell for roughly the same price? Conversely, make the cheaper parts, like intake boots, that don’t really need to be improved, half the price or less compared to genuine/OE parts. If your boot gains a good reputation, and can be had for $8-$9, it would seriously undercut the competition. (I don’t know how much control Üro has over this, compared to the vendor. But they do have control over their suggested retail price.)

I’m interested to see what happens with Üro Parts moving forward. Maybe they’ll take some of this feedback. Maybe they won’t. Hopefully, for them — and for us — they will.

Disclosure: Üro provided the intake boot for me to review. I’ve not received, and will not receive, any form of compensation for writing this post.

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