Ford, ABPA Spar Over Parts Testing Results - BodyShop Business
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Ford, ABPA Spar Over Parts Testing Results

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The Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) recently released test results that it says revealed that Ford service parts exhibited lower hardness, lower weight, lower density and higher flammability and were able to absorb far less energy than equivalent Ford production parts. Ford fired back, however, stating that ABPA’s reports contain inaccurate information about Ford Genuine OEM Collision Replacement Parts and incorrectly conclude that these parts are different than production components.

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The ABPA says it was compelled to put parts to the test following a recently released Ford video that it believed criticized the automotive aftermarket industry and asserted that "genuine Ford collision replacement parts are the same as those used to manufacture the vehicle."

However, in a statement, Ford maintained that "the statements in Ford’s YouTube video are true and accurate, and Ford stands behind all of them, including Ford’s claim that collision replacement parts are the same as those used to manufacture the vehicle."
 
ABPA says its initial examination found that two factory-installed front bumper isolators removed from 2005-2009 Ford Mustangs weighed 72 percent more than two genuine Ford service parts for the components. Subsequent testing by NSF International confirmed those weights, ABPA reports.

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When NSF compared those two Ford production parts to two Ford-branded front bumper isolator service parts purchased from Ford dealers, engineers discovered "large differences across a variety of other key criteria," ABPA claims, noting the average density of the Ford service parts tested was 79 percent lower than the density of the Ford production parts tested. According to the NSF’s Vehicle EPP Energy Absorber criteria, an acceptable criterion for density tolerance is +20/-10 percent.

ABPA also reported that the average hardness of the two Ford replacement parts tested was 23 percent less than the hardness of the production parts tested, which falls outside the +20/-10 percent variance that NSF permits.

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ABPA claimed that when it came to compressive load, the tested Ford service parts could withstand an average of 83 percent less than the tested production parts, while the average compressive energy declined an average of 81 percent from the original parts to the Ford-branded collision replacement components.  

In terms of flammability, the average burn rate was 319 percent higher for the Ford service parts than the original Ford parts installed during production, according to ABPA.

ABPA says this testing proves that Ford’s production and service parts are not equivalent, as Ford claims.

"To anyone who reviews the data, it is indisputable that Ford’s production and service parts are hardly ‘the same,’ as the company has asserted," said ABPA Legislation and Regulation Committee Co-Chair Eileen A. Sottile. "If Ford’s genuine collision repair parts can vary as much from the production parts as these do and still be considered acceptable for consumers, then obviously material composition is not as crucial as Ford has claimed."

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Ford, however, countered that ABPA’s testing misrepresented the facts, contributing the material difference between products and replacement parts to the evolution of those parts during the Mustang production process. Ford says it originally manufactured 2005-2009 Mustangs with double-density polypropylene front and rear bumper isolators before testing and certifying single-density isolators for use beginning in January 2007 to help improve weight and fuel economy, among other factors.

"From Job 1 until Jan. 18, 2007, the double-density polypropylene bumper isolator was used for both vehicle manufacturing and service replacement. Upon completing testing and proving the single-density polypropylene front bumper isolator met all requirements and specifications, it went into vehicle production and was used for both vehicle manufacturing and service replacement. As both double- and single-density bumper isolators were proven forward- and backward-compatible, both were available for service replacement until stock of the double-density isolators was exhausted," Ford stated. "This chronology illustrates the lengths that Ford goes through to thoroughly test our Genuine Ford OEM Collision replacement parts as part of an entire system.

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"These facts and Ford’s continuing concerns with the fit, finish, material composition and structural integrity of aftermarket collision parts reinforce Ford’s position that Genuine Ford Replacement Collision Parts are the right choice for consumers."

ABPA, however, claims the material difference between the production and service parts tested proves Ford isn’t living up to its own standards.

"What has been revealed through the study of these widely varying parts is a cynical double standard by a company that seeks to champion its own repair parts above all others while casting aspersions on the aftermarket," Sottile added.

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Ford notes that "since the NSF testing speaks to material differences, it would have been more complete and meaningful if the aftermarket polystyrene isolator had also been tested and compared to the Genuine Ford polypropylene isolators."

Ford also maintains that ABPA’s test results and subsequent claims are irrelevant: "ABPA’s accusations highlight the aftermarket’s lack of understanding and difficulty staying current with the frequent running changes made by automakers in their quest to constantly improve vehicles. The parts referenced in the ABPA press releases were used for both manufacturing and service replacement, and were thoroughly tested and proven to meet Ford’s specifications for the Mustang," the company stated.

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