The end of used spares on eBay?

The end of used spares on eBay?

New draconian legislation threatens used spares market, says Nigel Boothman


Recent crackdownon sellers of second-hand spare parts for cars, trucks and motorcycles could have serious implications for anyone with a vehicle that has to get by without main-dealer parts supply. Earlier this year, Ebay and the Environment Agency ‘joined forces’, as the gov.uk website put it, to target those selling vehicle parts without the correct environmental permits. This is almost certainly a response to the recent spate of catalytic converter thefts but the efforts to target criminals have caught a great many more traders in the same net. In short, only those with an environmental permit, sometimes called a breaker’s licence, will be allowed to list used car parts for sale on Ebay, and only then if they display the permit number in the listing. Ebay claimed to be contacted around 20,000 active sellers to prompt them to trade legally.

Malcolm Lythgo, head of Waste Regulation at the Environment agency, said ‘Hazardous components such as engine oil, coolant and batteries can contaminate plants, animals, soil and groundwater – even entering drinking water and risking human health – if not disposed of correctly. This is why it is so important for car breakers and parts dealers to operate within the law.’ This completely ignores the way private car enthusiasts operate – taking items from a starter motor to a seat or a wing mirror off a car before it’s sent to the scrappie, where the rest is disposed of perfectly safely.

If it’s legal to complete an oil change at home, and dispose of the oil at a local recycling centre, why is it now illegal to remove an engine and sell it, unless you have a breaker’s licence?

The news has brought dismay, with many on pistonheads.com suggesting the move is an underhand way of forcing older vehicles off the road. For older classics and those models that have long since disappeared from licensed breakers’ yards, there is no guidance from the Environment Agency on how the trade in used spares is to continue. But don’t be surprised if you start seeing parts described as ‘antique’ or ‘for display only’, to avoid this apparent sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Is the new law really about the environment, or is it yet another attempt to force people to keep buying new stuff? Hmmm.

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