The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) says it is again urging the collision repair industry to ensure that any official, industry-sanctioned "repair standards" for collision repair include all recognized procedures not just those of the OEMs. Standards promoted by other organizations such as I-CAR also need to be recognized, according to ARA.
"Given that there is no such thing as a ‘standard’ accident, the ARA believes collision repairers must be allowed to use their professional training and judgment to make repair decisions based on the individual circumstances surrounding the damaged vehicles rather than be forced to adopt a single solution and approach," the association said in a press release.
ARA is making this statement in response to the joint statement recently signed by several prominent collision repair groups recognizing OEM repair standards, when available, as the collision industry’s repair standards. The ARA says it’s concerned that this action could have negative consequences for collision repair professionals and consumers.
"The ARA believes that tying the hands of body shops in this proscriptive manner could open them up to an onslaught of baseless and outlandish lawsuits in instances where the repairs are not conducted strictly according to the OEM standards," the association said.
ARA also noted that strictly adhering to OEM repair standards can result in increased repair costs, which could lead to more damaged vehicles being declared total losses.
ARA contends that OEMs have become "more aggressive" over the past several years, releasing position statements that recommend against using recycled OEM parts.
"It defies basic logic to allow automakers to have carte blanche control over decisions in which they have such a huge financial stake. It is the fox watching the henhouse at its best and much more disturbing at its worst," said ARA CEO Michael E. Wilson.
ARA notes that recycled OEM parts have been widely accepted for decades, and there is a long track record of their successful use, along with an average 30- to 70-percent cost savings compared to using new OEM parts.
"ARA believes that the goal of the manufacturers is to discourage the use of genuine recycled parts and to secure a market that establishes themselves as the only source of parts and procedures for the repair of consumers’ vehicles," said Wilson. "If the car companies have their way and eliminate genuine recycled parts from the repair process, then the costs of those new OEM parts will undoubtedly rise."