• How Nigerians encourage Sub-standard car spare-parts

    Posted on: January 8th, 2014 by admin No Comments

    Nigeria is one country that hugely depends on imported spare-parts (more than 95% of automobile spare-parts are imported according to the Standard organization of Nigeria, SON), hence the volume of locally manufactured car parts is almost negligible owing(partly) to the highly vibrant automobile retail market here in this West-African business hub. The Nigerian automobile spare-part market could be categorized into 6 firm sub-divisions which comprises of O.E.M (Original equipment manufacturer) parts, Fake O.E.M parts, Original After-market parts, Fake After-market parts, Foreign-used/salvaged parts and locally(illegally)re-manufactured parts.

    This broad categorization of the automobile spare-part sub-set of the Nigerian automobile industry is the regrettable condition which local motorists find themselves today which not only is a bane to the automobile industry but also to the Nigerian government at large.

    spareparts in Nigeria
    But on a deeper thought, the demand for these products and the sustainability of this poorly structured spare-parts retail industry sub-set is a direct evidence of common economics of demand and supply; meaning the importation or re-manufacturing of the parts must have been prompted by a clear demand or a summation of factors which makes it profitable business for these ugly classes of spare-parts dealers and even more difficult for honest dealers that do business the right way.

    The options we have today didn’t just spring up overnight! It took years to evolve to becoming the complex industry as we have today; but who is to blame? As expected we know it is the responsibility of the government and its agencies to combat this type of menace and to put in place proper moderation of this vibrant industry, but let’s not shy away from the root cause of the problem which is the demand for sub-standard car products by a substantial chunk of the Nigerian motoring populace. This points back to you and me, as we must have knowingly or unknowingly instigated an ugly norm which will take years to fix; but for the time being, how have you been part of the problem? Below are how you may have been part of the problem especially in relation to mechanics.

     Ripping off mechanics: many motorists fail to recognize that these hard-working individuals depend on their daily income from getting under the hood, getting dirty under sun, tinkering with complex mechanisms or providing timely solutions etc, to feed their families and stay in business. So when you fail to pay them what they feel they rightly deserve, it’s only natural for them to come up with fraudulent means of raking in their money. One easy way they achieve this is by charging you a marked-up value of the estimated price(s) of original spare-parts and eventually buying the sub-standard product(s)-meaning they end up making money from the mark-up and the balance from the purchased fake part. A dissatisfied mechanic can go to any length to get his money back so be wise and considerate when bargaining.

    Unrealistic economy: which leads to under-budgeting for certain procedures to be carried out on your car. An example is budgeting #50,000 for the complete replacement of your tyre set (4pieces) and expecting good tyres at the end of the day or blaming the mechanic for being a rip-off 12months down-the-line. The number 7 nugget will further elaborate on the importance of prior investigation before carrying out car maintenance procedures.

    Outright suggestions: some of us are masters when it comes to cutting to the chase. A typical Nigerian mechanic village is one funny place where you will find weird operations like ‘welding drive-shafts’ or ‘welding broken suspension components’; if in doubt why not ask a road-side mechanic for a quick fix on any car issue and see the many overwhelming options he/she will come up with-but that I wouldn’t advice, just saying! Some motorist have their wonder mechanics which they came about via their friendship network, so when a problem comes up is an issue of suggesting to the mechanic to simply ‘do with he did to Andrew’s car’.

    Not following up claims: most of us are too busy to pay attention to details that concern our cars. A speed-thirsty friend of mine surprisingly changed the way he drives and maintained moderate speeds on this particular short-trip. This prompted me asking why he switched his driving style, in response he said, ‘when you get a bill of #24,000 for replacement of shock-absorbers one just has to pipe-low’. I went further to ask him if he got a new or used set of shock-absorbers, and to my amazement he said he couldn’t tell; but then I remembered its Christmas! Most Nigerians can be overly trusting, lazy and laid-back, this makes it easy for them to be ripped off. If mechanics know for sure that their clients don’t double-check, it means its business as usual and they can purchase any type of spare-parts and fix it.

    No prior investigation: very few take out time to investigate the true prices of quality spare-parts, the right vendors, the expected life-span of spare-parts and other associated factors which could help avert buying the wrong products or paying high for fake products. Most of us don’t even know when we have been cheated months down the line, but the truth is when motorist take out time to be informed, they make it difficult for fraudulent retailers to thrive and this will definitely discourage this awful trend.

    No or little Vehicle knowledge: it may come as a surprise but some city dwellers feel it’s normal to swap brake-pads on a monthly basis. The need for enough motoring knowledge can never be overemphasized as this serves as the basis for choosing the right mechanic, selecting the correct spare-parts to use and how best to extend the useful lives of our car parts(also easily identifying a fake part). Having fair vehicle knowledge hugely depends on your level of interest about  cars.

    Not double-checking referrals: some of us stick with mechanics or spare-part vendors because we got the link from our trusted friends or colleague. It’s no news that depending solely on referrals isn’t fool-proof when it comes to avoiding rip-offs. Ensure you use the information you gather from your prior (independent) investigations to serve as a basis for the assessment of the set of individuals you intend entrusting your vehicle to.

    To wrap up this article, take note of the fact that it took a misguided collective effort to get to where we are today; hence the only way forward to reverse this imbalance is to collectively tackle the root problem by changing the way we take care of our cars and deal with issues concerning our cars.

    image credit:stepbystep.com

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