Warning over ‘dangerous’ classic car parts

Bernie Fineman

by classic-car-weekly |
Published on

TV presenter and restorer Bernie Fineman warns that inferior car parts are putting owners’ lives at risk.

Poor quality parts that fail are not just a waste of money, they can actually put lives at risk, a classic restorer and TV presenter is warning enthusiasts.

CCW recently reported on how the Historic & Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA) has launched its Action on Parts programme (CCW, 6 March).  The online process allows HCVA members to identify parts causing problems and suggest improvements that can be passed on to all involved parties.

Now, classic mechanic Bernie Fineman of TV shows including Chop Shop and Classic Car Rescue has said: ‘Everyone is trying to save a bit of cash these days so I understand why classic car owners will jump at the chance to shave a few quid from their bill. But it’s not worth dying for. Parts now come in three grades – manufacturer/OEM, aftermarket and downright dangerous. I’ve just fixed a classic with a severe steering knock even after a so-called “repair”. One new track rod end was clearly an inferior casting and breaking up. So dangerous!

‘I understand why classic car owners will jump at the chance to shave a few quid from their bill. But it’s not worth dying for’

Bernie Fineman

‘I’m disgusted by how many aftermarket parts are so badly made.  I’m not saying you must buy overpriced manufacturer-branded parts – go direct to the firms who make them and save money. But beware of fakes. If that rubbish fuel pump you bought online fails, you’ll just break down – hopefully not on a smart motorway. And if those cheap electrical components catch fire, you might lose your car but you should still walk away. But you may not be so lucky if that cheap brake disc cracks, those pads pull off their backing or those cheap wishbones snap.

‘I see this so often that I must speak out. CCW readers have a choice so don’t make your car unsafe and risk your life and the lives of others just to save a bit of cash.’

'Now I always buy genuine spares'

CCW readers have also shared their experiences of using poor quality parts on their classics – and why they now look to use reputable suppliers when sourcing spares. Gordon Fox said: ‘I bought some very competitively priced Land Rover ball joints that claimed to be OEM spares and one of them failed inside two weeks – I could see that it was made of cheap steel. This has happened to me far too many times so now I always buy genuine spares. The genuine Land Rover ones I fitted are still good.’

'They’re cheap for a reason'

Classic car collector, Jerry Redman, said: ‘A replacement ignition condenser lasted just one mile before it failed. Cheap parts usually come with problems; they’re cheap for a reason, and now I always check out suppliers before purchasing.’

Freddie Geary added: ‘I bought a service/exchange parking brake caliper online. Not only did the sellers keep ‘forgetting’ to refund my £100 deposit, but they wouldn’t honour their guarantee when their caliper failed after only three months. The more expensive OEM part I then purchased has actually worked out cheaper in the long run.’

Restorer Nathan Bovingdon has had a similar experience: ‘The problem isn’t confined to cheap parts. I’ve bought several clutch kits from apparently reputable manufacturers that simply don’t fit. They’re not fakes but the manufacturing quality control is just appalling.

‘One can only presume that they’re made somewhere that has a very lax attitude to specification and then imported and packaged to look like OEM-quality parts.’ Richard McCann

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