Editor's Comment

Auctioning off the 'right parts' for your car

Published:  22 March, 2016

I was in Manchester recently and pulled in to a petrol station to brim my car’s tank ready for my journey back to Kent. As you do, I picked up the pump and noticed the advert staring back at me.

eBay it seems are moving into advertising car parts. The pump read “with an unbeatable selection, you’ll always find the right part for your car.” Then driving home, on several commercial stations, was the eBay advert suggesting that you can get all you need for your MOT on the website. Finally I get home, check Twitter and there’s a promoted article suggesting you buy brake pads for under £20.00 and fit them yourself.

I’ll start the ball rolling. I’ve bought parts online from eBay before, however the term ‘parts’ is rather ambiguous online. The items in question were indeed parts, they were a rear high-level brake light and an aerial for the Focus ST170. You would think that’s fine and an easy buy. Both parts supplied were wrong however. The light included a washer jet with the wrong pipe fixing and the aerial had the wrong diameter thread – despite both showing as acceptable on the company’s parts checker. These are minor products, imagine the wrong wheel-bearing or caliper or… I could go on.

Secondly, you may be able to buy wipers and bulbs on eBay, but the radio advert also suggested tyres. In a time when the industry is trying to admonish part-worns, many may hear this advert and look through the number of second-hands tyres available on the site. For the aforementioned ST170, there are 100 new tyres for sale and 40 used. There’s also one damaged tyre. The used ones are considerably cheaper, I wonder why?

eBay is treading (pardon the pun) a dangerous ground here. Will you fit a tyre, or any other part for that matter, that is bought from the website? If it’s brand new then perhaps there is not an issue but how sure can you be that it is what the website claims ‘the right part’ for the car? If the item is second-hand would you even touch it? Who then is liable should the part fail, and who will be blamed if it doesn’t fit? I can’t seriously see many customers agreeing that they bought the wrong part if the website suggests it’s right.

Yes there will be some knowledgeable consumers out there who will check the part, do the research and ensure it’s correct before ordering. There will also be those who just want the cheapest price and don’t care. As one Twitter user has recently put it to Aftermarket – maybe they should stick at what they do best and sell stuff online rather than interfere in the market.

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