French car owners seek black market repairs

citroenThe weak economy in France has given rise to makeshift mechanics creating a black market for car repairs.

All over greater Paris as well as in the rundown housing estates surrounding many French cities, amateur repair ‘shops’ spring up in the open air as well as in underground car parks, disused factories and warehouses and even supermarket parking areas.

There is no shortage of men, often undocumented migrants, willing to undertake the repairs for a knocked-down price. Often it is the only income they have.

While some fresh air mechanics have to post watchers to help move cars if the police turn up, others are so well established that lorries even deliver cars from Belgium or Germany for repair work.

Those who benefit most are likely to be the residents of the poor estates where most people have an old used car which frequently demands attention.

Such business has always existed in poor areas, but has gained ground since the financial meltdown of 2008.

Tenant associations often complain about the oil slicks and wrecked cars blighting the area. Local authorities are aware of the pop-up mechanics but often take little action to contain the trade. Where parking bans or concrete blocks have been imposed, the mechanics simply move elsewhere.

Some officials say a higher priority for them is violent theft and the street mechanic trade is not a source of crime as such, although they will swoop if things get out of hand.

A few councils are considering establishing community garages where residents can repair their car in exchange for a low subscription fee.


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-8 #2 Rog Williams 2015-05-25 16:16
For most British their first periodic inspection in Portugal is an eye opener. Why cannot their local garage be trusted to do MOT type checking ?

Why the need for 'super trustworthy' specialist mechanics at the IPO - if not to keep the nutters in total wrecks off the road and well away from elite VIP Portuguese ? As would undoubtedly happen if non-elite VIP's were just bunging a few escudos to the local garage to make out next years licence.

However, this being Portugal, the nutters are determined to use their new freedoms. So they are still on the roads - but now blind drunk.
-9 #1 liveaboard 2015-05-24 18:23
Of course without any tax or regulatory burden, they have a huge competitive advantage over regular shops.
There are similar businesses here in Portugal.

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