Sharjah: Traffic accidents are big business for used car part dealers on Al Khan road in the busy seventh industrial area of Sharjah.

Insurance companies shop here for parts to save money on repair charges, but vehicle agents warn that most of the parts shipped here are not attuned to Gulf specifications.

The dealers, many of whom are either Pakistanis or Afghans, ship in the used car parts of accident vehicles from Japan and Germany. "You can buy a whole Nissan engine starting from Dh500," said Izzatullah, who runs Al Tawheed auto used car parts.

He said a majority of his customers are from Somalia and Sudan who purchase tonnes of spare parts for ageing vehicles, especially pick-up trucks and mini-buses, in the African nations.

Sometimes individual customers come here looking for cannibalised parts after being hit by impatient motorists on the slow-moving Al Ittihad Highway.

There is no guarantee on the engines and once it is sold, cannot be returned. A Sudanese, who had bought a Toyota pick-up engine for Dh4,000, says that it is best to seek a mechanic's advice before buying. The spare parts are sold in the open, in the heat and dust.

A car parts agent in Dubai said many of the second-hand cars sold in Sharjah are imported from Japan.

"You will never be able to find spare parts for these vehicles," he said, as the cars are built to Japanese not Gulf specifications.

"If you are looking for cheap cars which can run for a year or two, these are good," he said. "These are use and throw," he said.

Abdul Qader had purchased a pick-up from Sharjah and shipped to his father in Sudan to use on his farm.

"The engine died after one year," he said, and had to find a replacement at the Al Khan market. Africa is also a big market for reconditioned vehicles.

There are dealers here also for parts for high-end luxury German vehicles. Nader from Afghanistan has been in the spare parts business for the past six years. He will sell you an E-320 Mercedes engine for Dh9,000. The engines are kept greased inside a warehouse.

His biggest market is Saudi Arabia, other GCC states and South Africa. Mechanics in Sharjah can fit the engine for you for about Dh800.

Bargain hunters' favoured destination

Dubai was earlier the main source for second-hand spare parts, but the market has shifted to Sharjah because of lower overhead expenses, say vehicle agents.

Many of these outlets import spare parts and engines from Japan and Germany and re-export to many Asian and African countries.

The parts usually come from damaged vehicles sold by insurance companies and the rest from police auctions. These parts are at least 50 per cent cheaper than price of the new parts. But there is no guarantee.