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CRASH backs NI probe which exposes risks of ‘cheap’ car parts

By 6 April 2016Road Safety

Insurance companies have an obligation to ensure that vehicles are returned in a ‘pre-accident condition’ and thus it is our strong view that consumers are entitled to exactly that. This means that their vehicle should be returned to them with the genuine manufacturer-approved parts fitted as standard.
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One of Northern Ireland’s largest car industry bodies said today (Wednesday 6th April, 2016) that lives were being put at risk in Northern Ireland because of the widespread use of cheap, replica car parts.


The Northern Ireland Bodyshop Alliance (NIBA), which represents more than 50 independent car repair garages and more than 200 professional mechanics, said it was now deeply concerned about driver and passenger safety after analysing the results of the region’s first major independent study into the issue.


The comprehensive report and analysis, published today, was undertaken by consultant engineer Alan Deering and commissioned by NIBA. It concluded that the ‘Non-Original Equipment Manufacturer’ or ‘Non-OEM’ car parts may not perform as well as manufacturer-approved parts if the vehicle is involved in an accident.


Leading independent engineer and consultant Alan Deering, and author of the report, said:


“In this substantive study, and from the analysis and testing undertaken, it is my opinion that there were notable differences between OEM and non-OEM parts tested which may affect performance, and, ultimately, the safety of drivers and pedestrians.


“If it were my own car, I would request OEM parts.  I would certainly feel more comfortable with these than if non-genuine parts were fitted as the best quality can only be assured in this instance.”


NIBA said it had become common practice in recent years for insurance firms to order garages to replace damaged vehicle body parts with replica parts as a way to cut costs and that many consumers were wrongly assuming that the parts fitted in the aftermath of a collision were genuine. It is now campaigning to make consumers aware of the practice and bring it to an end.


The independent research compared, tested and analysed genuine, or manufacturer-approved, parts and the non-genuine replica parts which are commonly installed in vehicles in Northern Ireland without the owner’s knowledge or consent.


It concluded that real differences existed between the genuine and non-genuine panels tested which could affect how well they fit and which could reduce their performance in an ‘impact’ situation.


Engineers who undertook the study were wary about the use of several installed non-genuine panels at one time which they said created a heighted chance that the vehicle may underperform, corrode more quickly or be more vulnerable overall.


The parts used – in this instance, body panels – were subjected to rigorous mechanical, chemical and microscopic testing to determine the findings. In each of the various parts tested, which were installed in a Ford Focus, a Volkswagen Golf and a Peugeot 206, the differences between the performance of genuine and non-genuine parts were stark.


NIBA Chair, Richard Hastings, said:


“The study highlights the real dangers involved for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists in Northern Ireland, where many car owners will no doubt be shocked to learn that insurance companies are trying to cut costs by having non-genuine parts fitted rather than the manufacturer’s parts after they have been involved in a collision.


“This report underlines our assertion that the practice, which can compromise the cars safety integrity, is completely flawed. Drivers who have been unfortunate to have been involved in a collision – no matter who is at fault – should also be concerned that the practice can often affect the vehicle resale value and limit or invalidate the car’s warranty.”


NIBA also claim that some of the biggest car manufacturers are already damning of insurance companies’ cost-cutting on car repairs amid fears they may compromise driver passenger safety.


“Some insurance companies may say that using non-genuine parts allows them to offer lower policy prices. However, any small savings could be lost thanks to the non-genuine parts devaluing the overall price of your car and increasing the bill for future repairs because they don’t provide adequate structural integrity in an accident,” Richard Hastings said.


“When it’s a choice between lives and profit – there really is no contest,” Richard added.


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