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The aftermarket vs. OEM parts debate has made headlines again, on the heels of an investigation by Consumer Reports. Fox 5 Atlanta’s investigative reporter Dana Fowle, who bent a radiator support in half back in August during a report on aftermarket collision parts, has continued her investigation into the parts controversy. Fowle aired an investigation last week in which she interviewed Paul Massie, powertrain and collision product marketing manager for Ford, and Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) Executive Director Jack Gillis, explaining to consumers where the two sides stand.
Massie discussed tests performed by Ford, the results of which he presented at a recent CIC meeting, which he claimed indicated that some structural aftermarket parts are made of lesser quality materials than their OEM counterparts.
"There seems to be a real lack for concern with quality and the long-term safety of these aftermarket parts, and I think that’s a concern," he told Fowle.
Fowle also interviewed Gillis, who said Ford’s motives in its investigation are questionable.
"First and foremost, Ford does not want competition, so they’re going to disseminate a lot of information that scares consumers away from anything but their own parts," Gillis said.
Fowle showed a simulated crash test by Ford illustrating how a Ford part and an aftermarket part react differently during testing. Then, a video of a saw cutting through an aftermarket part was shown. Gillis contended that there is no evidence that all aftermarket parts don’t perform up to OEM standards.
"I think Ford said it very well: (structural aftermarket collision parts) MIGHT affect airbag sensors," he said. "They clearly haven’t declared that they will affect airbag sensors, nor have they done the crash testing to determine whether or not a part that is functionally similar to the one they make will have any impact on the safety systems of the car."
Fowle noted that both Ford and CAPA agreed that aftermarket parts should be tested and held to higher standards. To illustrate this, CAPA’s video of an aftermarket bumper reinforcement shattering was shown.
"If they choose to use a CAPA certified part … at least they know it has gone through comparative testing so that it will perform the same as the car company brand part," Gillis said.
In the online version of Fox 5’s story, Eileen A. Sottile, co-chair of the Automotive Body Parts Association Legislation & Regulation Committee, also weighed in:
"The car companies shamelessly latched onto a single, theatrical demonstration of a saw cutting through an unmarked aftermarket bumper part to peddle the belief that such parts are inherently unsafe, even going so far as to suggest that aftermarket providers have a ‘lack of concern for quality,’" Sottile wrote. "Nothing could be further from the truth. The car companies may be content relying on the ‘saw test’ and computer testing of only two parts to allege that aftermarket parts are faulty, but the Automotive Body Parts Association and others within our industry know that there has not been one report of an injury or fatality resulting from the use of aftermarket parts. Can the car companies say the same?"
See the full report from Fox 5 Atlanta
See CAPA’s video comparing an OEM and aftermarket bumper reinforcement