The cost of repairing vehicles has increased sharply in recent years, which has impacted repairers trying to perform quality and cost-effective repairs, DIYers looking to fix their own cars, and insurers whose repair costs continue to rise resulting in higher premiums for the consumer.
Reclaimed Original Equipment (ROE) parts offer a quality, cost-effective and sustainable solution to this growing problem. But with the increased use of ROE and end-of-life “green” vehicle parts comes the increased risk of a dangerous and potentially fatal recalled part, due to faulty manufacture, being fitted to a car.
Similar to recalls in the food industry or any piece of safety equipment such as child safety seats, car parts demand by law that a recall system is in place. But with high profile failures such as the Takata airbags scandal, the recall system would appear to be imperfect and does not always protect drivers. The public and repairers need to understand how to safeguard themselves.
Chris Daglis, an independent advisor on alternative parts strategies to Australian and international insurers and managing director of All Auto Recalls UK (AAR), said buyers of any reclaimed part should be aware of the risk.
He said the single most important question every driver should be asking of their repairer, insurer or parts seller is: “Do you know if this car part is safe and is not the subject of a recall, and can this part be traced to my vehicle should it be recalled in the future?”
The Vehicle Recyclers’ Association UK (VRA) – the trade body for vehicle dismantlers, salvage agents and scrap metal processors – has worked closely with AAR to develop a mechanism through which vehicle recyclers in the UK can identify and remove recalled components from their inventory.
The collaboration has enabled the development and delivery of an efficient digital tool that has been made available to all VRA members since its launch last month.
Chas Ambrose, secretary of the VRA said: “We are delighted to be working closely with the team at [AAR] to make available to UK vehicle recyclers a user-friendly facility to identify any parts in their stocks which are still subject to outstanding recalls.
“This will make the challenge of dealing with rising numbers of recalls a much more manageable task. Furthermore, not only will this ensure that vehicles dismantled in the future are screened for outstanding recalls in real time, it will allow recyclers to retrospectively screen their existing parts stock for current and, significantly, future recalls.
“While some recyclers already have their own recall system in place, the advantage of the AAR system is that just by entering the registration number and VIN it will very quickly give you detailed information on all the recalls that are outstanding for a particular vehicle,” Ambrose said.
AAR has been developing this capability in Australia since early 2018 and is now able to service multiple stakeholders, including UK vehicle recyclers. “Our purpose is to develop and provide traceability solutions to the automotive industry that reduce risk, increase confidence and ensure customer safety,” said Daglis.
ROE parts for collision repair are used in high volume globally, accounting for an estimated five percent of all aftermarket parts in use around the world. Australia currently uses approximately 10% ROE parts in maintenance and repairs, the USA 12 percent, New Zealand a whopping 40% while the UK currently sits at around 2%.
However, with the unprecedented demand following the outbreak of the coronavirus being driven by cost pressures on insurance claims and the environmental benefits that can be derived from using reclaimed green parts, Daglis expects to see global demand climb past 20%.
More than five million UK vehicles are involved in road accidents each year with 84 per cent going in for subsequent repair. Parts currently account for around half of the total repair cost.
According to the AA, around one million vehicles are returned to dealers each year for safety checks and repairs under the UK government’s vehicle safety recall scheme operated by the DVSA. Most of those recalls involve brakes, fuel, airbags, steering, risk of fire, and seat belts.
It is vital that any reclaimed part that is added to a car is from a licensed vehicle recycler and, more importantly, that they have a lawful and robust recall process in place. That process must go beyond the moment the part is added to the car; it needs to extend for the life of the car in case of future recalls. “It is critical for collision repairers, insurers and any on-seller of parts, to have access to a recall checking capability so that they can alert their customer to a safety problem on their vehicle,” continued Daglis. “Sometimes these recalls are critical – they can end up being a death trap.
“Our system offers an Auto Alert function, which will alert the auto recycler if any of the vehicles they have entered into the system have a recall against them at any time in the future.”
Meanwhile, the introduction of the AAR recalled parts system follows the separate launch last month of the VRA’s independent UK Vehicle Recycler Certification for Reclaimed Parts, which is aimed at the insurance repair market.
“We have already had 75 recyclers sign up for the certification process, which will be conducted by two nationwide certification bodies who will carry out certification audits for us to ensure it remains completely independent,” said Ambrose.
The VRA has also been working with eBay for two years to develop a virtual platform to facilitate the purchase of green parts for insurers and body repairers. That system, which has also benefited from AAR’s input, went live in the UK in September.