As the ongoing debate between the Ford Motor Company and the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) continues, the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) noted that the issue of aftermarket parts being made out of different material than OEM parts can be addressed by the CAPA Certification Program.
CAPA says it has demonstrated that OEMs can produce their service parts with different material than what they used in the assembly part, and the CAPA Program ensures that the material used in a CAPA Certified part is the same as the material used in an OEM service part.
"In addition, CAPA requires that a CAPA Certified part stay current with any modifications that the car company may make in materials or other part characteristics,” said Jack Gillis, CAPA executive director. “That’s a basic tenet of the CAPA Program and one of the reasons why CAPA insists on rigorous re-inspection of the parts in the CAPA program.”
CAPA requires that aftermarket parts undergo extensive material testing at the outset of CAPA Certification, as well as randomly through the life of the part. CAPA believes the market assumes that when an OEM puts a service part in the market, the part is appropriate for use. Because of this, CAPA Certification requires that both the aftermarket part and the OEM service counterpart undergo extensive comparative testing.
Ford indicated that it would have been informative if the “aftermarket polystyrene isolator had been tested and compared to the Ford polypropylene isolators.” CAPA says it agrees that the use of comparable materials is crucial to comparable part performance.
During the research and development of its CAPA 501 Bumper Parts Standard, CAPA performed comparative crash testing on a non-CAPA Certified aftermarket energy absorber and a Ford energy absorber for the 2006-2009 Fusion. The aftermarket part was marked that it was made of the same material as the Ford brand part. However, CAPA says its testing found that the aftermarket part was actually made of a different plastic and performed "dramatically differently" than the Ford part during impact. In fact, it exploded to pieces, CAPA noted (comparative video of the crash test is available here).
CAPA notes that in spite of widespread notification of this defective part, it still remains on the market from U.S. part distributors, and shops continue to place the part on vehicles. CAPA claims it protects both distributors and shops from these parts, but only if they look for the CAPA Seal.
“As the exploding bumper indicates, it is impossible to determine the quality of an aftermarket part just by looking at it or even reading the material information stamped in by the manufacturer,” said Gillis. “This is why CAPA Certification is so important. CAPA takes the ‘guess or hope’ factor away for shops, consumers and insurers. CAPA’s approach is simple: We certify comparability on a part-by-part basis that’s why the yellow and blue CAPA Quality Seal has come to represent the highest level of aftermarket part quality.”