The Choice Autobody Repair Association says it’s “outraged” by the “attempt by elements of the aftermarket parts industry to prevent vital information affecting repairs and parts safety from reaching collision repairers” at the recent Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in Atlanta, Ga., and that it will independently investigate the quality and safety of aftermarket parts before it endorses their use in repairs.
LKQ Corporation the largest nationwide provider of aftermarket collision replacement products, recycled OEM products and refurbished OEM collision replacement products reportedly threatened industry trainer and activist Toby Chess with a lawsuit if he proceeded with a planned demonstration about structural aftermarket parts at CIC in mid-April.
Rick Finney, CARA president, claims that LKQ was attempting to prevent collision repairers from having access to information that could impact consumer safety.
“As professional collision repairers, we are responsible for ensuring the parts we use and the repairs we make to our customers’ vehicles are safe and don’t expose them to danger,” he said. “For anyone to interfere with the free flow of information about possible safety hazards with collision repairs keeps us from fulfilling an important role protecting consumers.”
Chess was set to follow up on his demonstration at the January CIC in Palm Springs, Calif., where he showed the supposed differences in quality between OEM and aftermarket radiator core supports and bumper reinforcements. Instead, he announced that he could not give the presentation due to the threat of a lawsuit. LKQ spokesperson Sarah Lewensohn told BodyShop Business last week that LKQ did not threaten anyone with a lawsuit, but someone from the company was in contact with a CIC representative about the accuracy and relevancy of Chess’ presentation.
Finney says the reported lawsuit threat by LKQ hurts the credibility of the entire aftermarket parts industry.
“This reaction on the part of those who threatened Chess raises a lot of questions,” Finney said, adding that repairers are likely to wonder if parts manufacturers are trying to hide defects or safety issues from repairers.
“Repairers have to learn the good, the bad and the ugly about everything that can affect our customers when we repair their vehicles,” he continued. “That’s what these industry conferences are all about real information you can use.”
CARA says it will independently investigate the quality and safety of aftermarket parts to determine whether they’re appropriate for use in repairing vehicles and is advising repairers to not use parts that don’t perform to OEM standards.
“If collision repairers can’t trust the aftermarket parts industry to make certain they manufacture and distribute only safe, quality replacement parts, the collision repair industry should stop using them until we have independently verified that these parts really are safe to install on vehicles,” Finney said. “After all, consumers put their lives in our hands every time we repair their vehicles. We should be doing everything necessary to ensure their safety.”
CIC Technical Presentation Stymied by LKQ Threat