Car part costs: Why you should care

Car part costs: Why you should care

I think it’s fair to say most people don’t give a thought to the cost of car parts until their car gets damaged in an accident.

Car parts

Most people wouldn’t have the time or inclination to phone around for the prices of hundreds of parts, of course. 

Happily, Durban-based motoring journalist Malcolm Kinsey does it for us every year, and has been for the past 25 years.

His latest Kinsey Report, just out, features 74 vehicles in nine categories, from budget cars to luxury saloons, and he lists their parts in three categories: service, maintenance and crash parts.

Are service and maintenance part prices relevant if you’ve got a service or maintenance plan?

Not very, but bear in mind that some budget cars that aren’t sold with those plans to cover these costs, and with older cars obviously, those plans have expired. 

But when it comes to crash parts, though - such as light assemblies, fenders, windscreens, doors, bonnets, grilles and tailgates - all buyers of all cars would do well to pay close attention to their replacement parts prices before signing on the dotted line.

That’s because if the cost of the crash parts are high, relative to the car’s value at the time of the accident, the write-off point will be easily reached by your insurance company.

That point is around 70% of the value of the car, sometimes a lot less, Kinsey says.

 Malcolm Kinsey weighs in

Kinsey says that with the advent of aluminum body panels and chassis components - to lighten the vehicle and thus improve fuel consumption - some cars are even more likely to be written off, because they are very difficult and expensive to repair.

Having a car written off is a huge setback for motorists in most cases, because insurance pay outs are always less than the value of the car, to the owner, especially if it’s an older car.

"They will pay you out the mid-way point between the trade-in value of the car and the suggested retail value of the car, not the purchase price,” Kinsey says.

That’s one of the reasons why parts prices matter.

As always, Kinsey sourced the parts prices of those 74 cars from franchise dealers around Durban, all in the same calendar month.

He notes that some of the prices are alarmingly high this year such as mag rims and windscreens costing more than R10 000 and says this can’t be blamed entirely on the deteriorating rand. 

And for those who still believe that French cars have expensive parts would do well to check out the numbers - it’s not the case any more.

Here’s a small taste of what the numbers reveal:

City cars and entry level

Winners, overall - that’s the total of service, maintenance and crash parts - the new Datsun GO, followed by the Nissan Micra and the Polo Vivo.

Most expensive parts basket overall: Chevrolet Spark, followed by Honda Brio.

An example of how prices vary: The bonnet of the Datsun Go! costs R1681, while the same part for the Ford Figo costs R4345.

Family favourites

Cheapest parts basket: The Toyota Corolla Prestige and Quest, followed by Alfa Guilietta.

Most expensive parts basket, overall: Mazda 3, followed by Chevrolet Cruze.

Example of how prices vary 

The back windscreen of the Alfa Guilietta costs R1898, while that of the Mazda 3 costs R7000 more - R5858.


Cheapest - Toyoya’s Fortuner, then Kia Sportage, then Toyota Rav.

Most expensive parts basket, overall: Honda CRV, followed by Hyundai ix35 EXAMPLE OF HOW THE PRICES VARY: The tailgate of the Chevrolet Trailblazer costs R14 699, while the same part on the Jeep Renegade costs R5015.

Executive saloons

It was a close race in this category - cheapest parts overall was won by the BMW  320, followed by the Audi A4 and The Infiniti Q50.

Most expensive parts basket, overall: Jaguar XF, followed by Mercedes C200 

Example of how prices vary : The Infiniti Q50’s wheel rim has a price tag of  a whopping R10 118, while that of the BMW 320i is R1522.

The motor industry takes the Kinsey Report very seriously. Years ago, when VW parts were revealed to be much more expensive than its competitors, a couple of weeks after that year’s report was published a team of auditors flew out from Germany an slashed R1billion off the value of parts in the VW warehouse.

So the motoring public should be very grateful to Malcolm Kinsey and his annual survey.

Clearly, someone needs to be watching these numbers.

Full details of those 74 car’s parts prices can be found on Malcolm’s website -

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