In the wake of a demonstration at the Collision Industry Conference at which I-CAR instructor Toby Chess showed the difference between OEM and aftermarket structural crash parts, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals (AASP) have advised their members to proceed with caution if they choose to use non-OEM parts.
The organizations join two other organizations representing parts distributors Auto Body Parts Association (ABPA) and Taiwan Auto Body Parts Association (TABPA) along with Keystone Automotive and the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA), in reacting to Chess’ presentation. ABPA and TABPA both recommended that their members stop the sale, distribution and production of uncertified structural crash parts, while Keystone has stopped the sale of certain bumper reinforcements and CAPA announced it has a new bumper certification process in the works.
"This is a serious issue that has not received enough attention from the industry in the past," Chess said. "These parts are critically affecting the structural design of a vehicle in its post-repair state. I think the ABPA has shown their leadership, and we need to hold their members the people and organizations that manufacture and supply these parts accountable for the quality and safety of their product. The OEMs put a lot of money into research and development to ensure that the end product operates, reacts and sustains damage in a very specific way. Any replacement part made available to the market should be required to have that same expectation of performance."
SCRS says it recommends that collision repairers understand the liability associated with the use of parts that don’t perform up to OEM standards and avoid being influenced to use any replacement part that has not undergone credible independent testing to ensure it meets quality- and safety-based standards.
“There has to be a way to address the individuals who already have parts that have now been deemed ‘inferior’ on their vehicles,” added SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg. “It is not enough to accept that suppliers will deal with the issue on a case-by-case basis if or when there is a problem. If the process and infrastructure are not in place to support the ability to notify consumers when a problem has been identified, then we need to significantly fix that infrastructure before more parts are sold.”
The AASP says the collision repair industry’s focus on cost containment must not come at the expense of proper repairs that return vehicles to pre-accident condition in terms of safety and appearance. The association contends that a substandard aftermarket structural part has the potential to affect the crashworthiness of the vehicle, and few, if any, fully educated consumers would willingly jeopardize their vehicles’ or occupants’ safety in trade for the cost savings a non-OEM equivalent part provides.
“Our confidence in these parts, some of which may be well-engineered and structurally equivalent, will only be restored if and when a formal certification process is made available, and each of these parts is run through that process,” a statement from AASP says. “In the absence of certification, the only responsible action is to fully remove their availability for use in collision repairs, including verified removal from each and every distributor’s shelves, in addition to the estimating databases.”
“When structural testing and certification of this class of parts is available and parts testing begins, we will have empirical evidence as to which parts are structurally equivalent and which are not,” AASP’s statement continues. “At that time, the various segments within our industry will again be ‘tested’ in terms of their commitment to remove known defective parts from consumers’ vehicles.”
Download Toby Chess’ PowerPoint presentation