‘Flawed practice’ putting lives at risk

The Northern Ireland Bodyshop Alliance (NIBA) is deeply worried about the safety of drivers and passengers after research found that some insurers were ordering garages to fit replica parts to save on costs.

It says results of the first major independent study into the sector are a major cause for concern, with many customers believing their cars had been fitted with genuine parts after a collision and not realising that instead they had replica parts that were not as safe.

Independent engineer and author of the report Alan Deering 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.’

The research was commissioned by NIBA, which represents more than 50 independent car repair garages and more than 200 professional mechanics. It compared, tested and analysed both genuine and non-genuine panels, concluding that there was a stark difference between the two.

Engineers who undertook the study said the non-genuine panels heightened the possibility of the vehicle underperforming, corroding and becoming more vulnerable overall.

NIBA chair Richard Hastings said, ‘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 car’s 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.’