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CAPA Says Testing Only Way to Prove Part Quality


In response to various questions raised about the quality of independently produced aftermarket parts, Jack Gillis, executive director of the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA), said anyone using aftermarket parts should look for CAPA certified parts to ensure quality and safety.

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“It is impossible for insurers or repairers who choose to use alternative parts to know the quality, fit and safety compliance aspects of those parts based on marketing terminology,” said Gillis. “Galvanization, fastener and weld integrity, material composition, latch strength or even safety compliance are impossible to determine by simply looking at the part or depending on a marketing claim.”

“Even if a part has ‘FMVSS 108’ printed on the box, you can’t be sure if it actually meets those important lighting safety requirements,” Gillis added.


In developing its lighting certification program (CAPA 301), CAPA says it discovered that a significant number of aftermarket lights did not fully comply with the requirements of FMVSS 108, illustrating in its view why CAPA Certification is important to the users of aftermarket parts. CAPA says that its seal means a part meets the comprehensive requirements of CAPA’s Quality Standards, which many aftermarket parts are not tested for. 

Although CAPA states it requires that participating manufacturers meet comprehensive quality 
and process related requirements, it believes the most important aspect of CAPA certification is the 
actual testing and comparison of the aftermarket part to the OEM part. According to CAPA, some 
programs only require their participants to meet general process requirements, and when they do, all of their parts automatically qualify.


“We’ve even heard of programs where only the part distributor and possibly the insurer know the supposed quality status of the parts,” said Gillis. “With CAPA, the quality status is easily and publicly available.”

Currently, CAPA has 41 manufacturers participating in its program, but claims the majority of the parts made by these manufacturers have not been tested by CAPA. Furthermore, CAPA says for those parts that do meet its comprehensive standards, most manufacturers make both CAPA Certified and noncertified, untested versions of the parts.

“So even if the part was listed on the estimate as CAPA Certified, or a CAPA certified part was ordered, it is critical that the part be checked on arrival to ensure it has the distinct yellow and blue CAPA Quality Seal,” Gillis said. “Only then can you know that the correct material was used and that important testing, such as latch retention, has been completed.”


CAPA also reminds repairers to remove the tabs on the tamper-proof labels from CAPA certified parts and put them with their corresponding repair orders to register the seal number with the CAPA Tracker, which will notify shops if problems come up with parts.

More information:

• CAPA Parts Testing Company Hired by Federal Gov’t for Safety Testing of Auto Lights

Product Extra: Certified Crash Parts



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