As the industry continues to grapple with issues related to the use of aftermarket parts for collision repairs, the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) provides the market with the ability to choose a quality option.
According to the organization, CAPA-certified parts are comparable to OEM brand parts. Approved by CAPA’s technical committee in 2010, the CAPA 501 Bumper Parts Standard is based on true and complete comparative testing of an aftermarket part to the OEM brand counterpart.
In addition to requirements for material composition, mechanical properties (strength), construction features, fit and appearance, the CAPA 501 Standard also includes a series of full part dynamic crash tests. Test parts are mounted to a vehicle simulator and are crashed into a fixed, flat rigid barrier at 5 mph. After the crash, high-speed video and detailed graphs of impact force and deceleration are used to compare the performance of the aftermarket part to the OEM brand part. In addition, the amount of physical deformation is carefully examined and compared.
“While this testing is extensive, CAPA’s board and technical committee wanted to ensure that all performance characteristics were compared in detail to the car company brand parts,” said Jack Gillis, executive director of CAPA. “Because of industry concerns about the safety-related aspects of structural parts, CAPA raised its own bar. We requested that the highly respected Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conduct a series of high- and low-speed crashes. The sole purpose was to demonstrate the parts meeting the CAPA requirements will, in fact, perform in a comparable manner to the car company brand part.”
Only one manufacturer so far has chosen to submit its parts to CAPA for certification. Production Bumper Stampings Inc. (PBSI), a U.S.-based manufacturer and member of the Diamond Standard Brand Group, has 29 CAPA Certified bumpers representing more than 40,000 parts available in the U.S. market.
“Going forward, we anticipate the market will demand that even more of our bumper products become CAPA certified,” said Mike O’Neal, president of PBSI and Diamond Standard. “As the only manufacturer certified by CAPA to meet the CAPA 501 Standards, we are prepared to meet that demand.”
Added shop owner and CAPA Technical Committee Chairman Mike Schoonover, “Unfortunately, the market is giving aftermarket manufacturers who produce structural bumper parts a mixed message. In spite of bumper sawing demonstrations and videos of ‘exploding’ energy absorbers, shops are still using non-CAPA certified bumpers and other structural parts, regardless of the risks. As long as our various industries accept the cheapest parts, there’s really no reason for those manufacturers to produce high quality CAPA parts. The good news for those shops concerned about reducing repair costs and protecting their customers for poor quality parts is there is a CAPA alternative.”