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Use of second-hand spare parts: Are mechanics playing the game?

Repairers have an obligation to offer their customers second-hand parts, sold up to ten times cheaper than new ones. However, the market is struggling to develop in France. Explanations.

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In these times of high inflation, any saving is good to take! Especially when it comes to car maintenance and repair. And spare parts weigh heavily on the bill (half, on average). Especially since the price of new elements has continued to climb in recent years (+ approximately 20% in four years). To soften the pain, the second-hand piece has no equal. Illustrations: a Renault Espace 4 2.2 dCi alternator spotted at €98 instead of €666, a Peugeot 807 sliding side door at €784 unearthed at €129… So up to -85%! On average, the cost of the part can be halved. And no longer need to go around old junkyards to get supplies. For several years now, professionals have stormed the market to industrialize the activity. Via websites (Opisto, Back2car, Caréco, Reparcar… and many others), you can obtain the missing component from your vehicle in just a few clicks. Plus with warranty. Intended for individuals and workshops, these sites pride themselves on offering millions of second-hand parts.

Barely 5% of repairs

It must be said that these actors had believed to smell the good vein. Indeed, a decree of 2016 obliges mechanics to inform their customers to enable them to opt for a “ part from the circular economy ”, (CEIP). However, it took until 2019 for a text to explain how to meet this imperative. Thus, the workshops must display their obligation and submit to customers a double estimate, new and second-hand, for mechanical or bodywork repairs (excluding wear and safety parts). However, they can avoid the obligation “when the PIEC are not available within a period compatible with the period of immobilization of the vehicle”. And the SRA* figures released recently confirm this. In the event of a disaster, reused parts represented only 3.6% of the elements replaced in 2021, compared to 2.7% in 2017. A very relative progress. It must be said that, during an accident covered by insurance, the motorist will naturally prefer (since the decision is up to him) a new part to a recycled one, even guaranteed. Especially since insurers do not play the game by passing on the gain to contributions, for example. Even taking into account non-insurance repairs, the reuse part does not weigh heavily: in total, it would only represent around 5% of the market. We are far from the expected jump (and 20% in the United States or 17% in Sweden). For once, many mechanics do not hide it: for them, the reuse part is not the panacea. Some argue that the supply is not so abundant compared to the needs. Others are reluctant because of the work that the CEIP requires (a door to be repainted or adapted, for example). Some highlight the search time (on different sites) for a component, which can be long and is not billable. “Excuses” which can be agreed but which some do not bother. Like Speedy, which states on its website: “ We are unable to provide you with CEIP due to availability delays… ”

Second-hand parts to save a car

Half the cost of new components, reused parts can save a car from breaking. Indeed, car experts are right to use such parts when costing the repair of an accident vehicle. As a result, an “economically irreparable vehicle” can go into the green. It is still necessary that the insurances which mandate the experts – which prefer to discharge the residual value of the car rather than to have it repaired – also play the game!

Still, the law does require workshops to check if the part is available. Do not hesitate to ask for your double quote.

*Motor vehicle safety and repair: body charged by insurers with monitoring changes in repair prices.

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