The Technical Committee of the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) has approved the CAPA 501 Standard for the certification of aftermarket bumper parts, which includes steel bumpers (front and rear), steel reinforcements (rebars), bumper brackets and energy absorbers. CAPA also enlisted the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) to evaluate the crashworthiness of a vehicle equipped with bumper systems that met key features of the CAPA Standard.
Like all other CAPA Standards, CAPA says the new CAPA 501 Standard is
based on the comparative testing of an aftermarket part to its OEM
counterpart. Standard specifications include material composition, mechanical properties (strength), corrosion resistance, dimensions, appearance, construction features such as welds and fasteners, Vehicle Test Fit (VTF), and full part stress testing, either dynamic or quasi-static, CAPA says.
“Approval of this new CAPA standard is a huge step forward in expanding the range of CAPA Certified parts for both repairers and their customers,” said Mike Schoonover of Schoonover Bodyworks, chairman of CAPA’s Technical Committee.
The development of the CAPA 501 Standard began prior to April 2009, and the standard development process included an extensive examination of various bumper parts, comparative testing, consultation with a variety of industry experts and input from CAPA’s Technical Committee. In addition, the IIHS conducted a series of demonstration tests for CAPA.
Due to additional safety features built into modern vehicles, bumper
systems designed to protect the vehicle may also have an impact on the
operation of some of the safety items in a car, so CAPA says it asked
the IIHS to test the crashworthiness of a vehicle equipped with bumper
systems that met features of the CAPA Standard.
“In order to demonstrate that the CAPA Standard had the ability to identify parts that would, in fact, perform comparably as their car company brand counterparts, CAPA enlisted the assistance of IIHS in conducting a series of comparative, full vehicle low and high speed crash tests,” said Jack Gillis, CAPA executive director.
Crash Test Results
Two vehicles were selected by IIHS for the testing, and the serial numbers on the two 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups chosen were within 15 digits. One vehicle was equipped with an OEM service part, and the other with an aftermarket part that met all of the key structural and dimensional elements of CAPA’s proposed bumper standard. Both tests were run in accordance with IIHS Crashworthiness Evaluation Offset Barrier Crash Test Protocol (Version XIII), according to CAPA.
IIHS found that the two vehicles had similar crashworthiness measures in the 40 mph offset frontal test, and both would receive an overall "Good" rating for frontal crash protection.
CAPA also asked the IIHS to conduct low speed (5 mph) tests using its standard bumper testing protocol (Version V) with two Dodge Ram pickup trucks, and IIHS found that the OEM and CAPA-Certified bumpers provided nearly identical damage protection to the vehicle, according to CAPA.
Following the test, repair estimates were written for each part. CAPA says the aftermarket bumper meeting the key CAPA 501 Standard requirements performed the same as the OEM part. Using OEM parts in repair estimates, the damage and repair costs totaled $1,120 for each vehicle. The total repair cost would be $1,053 if the estimate assumes an aftermarket part is used, according to CAPA.
In addition to recent industry reports about poor performing bumper parts, CAPA says its own testing has identified deficiencies in the quality and performance of independently produced bumpers when compared to OEM parts: “As such, there is a real need for a certification standard which identifies bumper parts that are truly comparable to the car company brand parts,” said Gillis. “The good news is the industry can be assured that bumper parts meeting the CAPA 501 Standard have demonstrated comparable performance across the board to the car company brand bumper parts.”
In addition to CAPA tests used to ensure comparability to OEM parts, the new CAPA 501 Standard will require that bumper parts go through a full part dynamic crash or quasi-static tests. CAPA says that full part stress testing, conducted on every part number submitted for certification, will further demonstrate comparability of the aftermarket part to its OEM counterpart. The CAPA program also requires post-certification inspection and marketplace monitoring.
“Those manufacturers who choose to certify their parts to CAPA’s Certification Standards will be making a responsible contribution to overall vehicle repairability,” said Jeanne Silver of Butterfield Bodyworks CARSTAR, vice chairman of CAPA’s Technical Committee.
CAPA says several manufacturers currently participating in the CAPA program make various bumper parts, which the organization hopes will be submitted for testing. The CAPA 501 Standard was approved by a vote of CAPA’s Technical
Committee, whose membership includes collision repairers, manufacturers,
distributors, insurers and quality consultants.
CAPA emphasized that only parts bearing the CAPA seal are CAPA Certified.
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