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2021 June 1

How can I avoid falling for scammers when buying used car parts?

Cars wear out, break down and need repairs. Sometimes the cost of unplanned repairs can be overwhelming and drivers are tempted to look for cheaper ways to restore the vehicle to its original condition. The used parts market is flourishing in Lithuania, but there are also many risks. How can I avoid them and buy a quality product that will last longer and perform better than the cheapest new part from China?

Used parts are like cheese in a mousetrap

Used car parts can be found at surprisingly good prices in scrap yards. For example, a good new front shock absorber for the popular 5 Series BMW E60 costs around €150 – €200, but you can also find one for €70. The same front shock absorber, still in good condition but used, can cost at least 5-7 times cheaper than the cheapest new part and up to 20 times cheaper than a new original part for the same BMW car.

However, the search can cause difficulties: there are unfair dismantlers in the market who can sell parts of poor quality, the parts will come without a warranty and without the possibility to return and get your money back.

The biggest dangers are on the internet. When buying from social networks or ad portals, you can be painfully deceived. Imagine a situation: you find information in the ads about a car of a particular make that is being disassembled. You make call, make an appointment to buy the part you need. However, the scrap yard is located a few hundred kilometres away, at the other end of Lithuania. You have to trust the seller, transfer the money and wait for the parcel. At best, you will receive the parcel in a couple of weeks, if you’re less lucky – you will receive the wrong part, a damaged part, or won’t receive the parcel at all. Neither social networks nor ad portals are responsible for their content, so it’s unlikely you’ll have anyone to complain to.

Only legal dismantlers will ensure quality

“How lucky you are to find a good second-hand part depends on who you buy it from. Used parts can be sold either by an illegal “garage” or by an authorised scrap yard with all the necessary permits. In the first case, you cannot know whether the product being sold has been inspected and is of good quality, nor can you know whether the employee understands what he is selling, whether the part was not damaged during disassembly, and so on. Meanwhile, a serious car scrap yard has the practice of disassembling parts properly, tries to maintain the level of quality and can not only offer a product, but also give advice,” explained customer success specialist Agnius Skudutis from “Ovoko”, UAB a company uniting used parts sellers, better known as RRR.lt.

There are hundreds of legal and orderly car scrapyards in Lithuania. However, not many of them have all the parts you need and you may have to call dozens of companies to find the part yourself, which is extremely time consuming. The project “RRR.lt”, created by the Lithuanian “Ovoko”, connects legally operating car scrap yards, and currently there are almost 720 of them included in the system. They upload the parts they have to the e-marketplace, where the right parts can be found using the VIN number of the car. No matter which warehouse you buy the part from, you’ll receive your product in just a couple of days and the system offers a money-back guarantee.

Not a step further without a money-back guarantee

“We select our partners very carefully, sign contracts with them and monitor the quality of their work. If it so happens that the part was not the right fit or was of poor quality, you can return it free of charge within 10 days, no questions asked. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s an electronics-type part or lights, that’s the general rule in our e-shop. We have delegated teams for this purpose – one of them takes care of the consumers, answers their messages and provides advice over the phone, while the other team closely communicates with the scrap yards and solves any issues that arise,” said Agnius Skudutis, a representative of “Ovoko”.

Saving both time and money

The biggest benefit to the consumer is the original part at a low price. Car scrap yards are not just for bodywork or electronics, but also a great place to look for good quality chassis and engine parts that are not yet worn down.

“I would disagree with those who say that it is not worth buying parts from scrap yards. Here you can find parts that are quite good and far from being worn out, which will last longer and last better than the cheapest Chinese parts. We dismantle right-hand drive cars from England, which often have low mileage and are well-maintained. They are cheaper, so original parts that haven’t been used much are at least 3 times cheaper than the cheapest new parts. For example, if a new “joint” for a car costs around €100, here you can buy one for €10. If a new shock absorber is around €60, I can offer you one for €10,” said Darius Čyvas of “Saulida”, a used car dismantler.

He agreed that there are many unfair sellers in the used parts market who sell lower quality parts as good by using better photos or by photographing the parts in such a way that the flaws are not visible. It is therefore important to choose used parts from reputable e-marketplaces or legally operating individual companies.

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