TV Report Claims Aftermarket Parts Are Unsafe - BodyShop Business

TV Report Claims Aftermarket Parts Are Unsafe

An investigative report by a Columbus, Ohio, TV station claimed that using aftermarket crash parts could interfere with airbag deployment and possibly prevent airbags from deploying in crashes, and the station warned consumers against having their vehicles repaired with anything but OEM parts.

Phil Mosley, general manager of Mercedes-Benz Collision Center in West Chester, Ohio, said in the report on WBNS-TV Channel 10 that repairers are “re-engineering the structure of the car” when they use aftermarket crash parts rather than OEM. However, Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) Executive Director Stan Rodman said the report was, in a word, “nonsense.”

“There is nothing to do with cosmetic sheet metal that has any impact on the operation and safety of the vehicle,” Rodman said. “The sensor which detonates the airbag is located under the car, totally away from anything that they allude to in that investigative report.”

The report warned that aftermarket parts make vehicles unsafe because “the original system is crash-tested and systems with imitation parts are not.” Channel 10 reporter Paul Aker quoted an Accident Reconstruction Network newsletter that said crumple-zone repairs that don’t match factory specifications are “risky for the timing sequence.” This could “fool the sensor” and cause airbags to not deploy, the report contended.

Rodman says that in the 26 years since the ABPA was formed, he’s seen one aftermarket crash part – a hood – operate improperly, and it was due to incorrect installation, not the part’s construction. He has never heard of an airbag not deploying due to aftermarket parts installed on a vehicle.

“This is crazy,” Rodman said of the report. “It’s like trying to tell you that you can’t operate a vehicle if you put a certain color of lipstick on your lips – it doesn’t make sense.”

Repairers interviewed by Channel 10 say that insurance companies push them to install aftermarket parts, and according to the federal government, billions of dollars worth of aftermarket parts are installed by body shops each year.

“The insurance company is generally writing these parts because they’re less expensive,” said Randall Blanchard, owner of TruePerformance body shop in Plain City, Ohio.

Rodman agreed that insurers prefer aftermarket parts for cost savings, but emphasized that in general, aftermarket parts match OE parts in safety and quality. However, there’s one aftermarket part Rodman won’t stand behind: airbags. Due to the potential liability should an airbag malfunction, Rodman says the ABPA advises its member distributors not to carry airbags, and the vast majority don’t.

“The only way I’d sell airbags is out of an unmarked black truck with no receipts given out,” Rodman said.

Repairers told Channel 10 reporter Aker that many shops don’t ask for customers’ consent when using aftermarket parts, and when they do, customers “have no idea what the crash parts could do in another crash.” Ohio law requires body shops to tell consumers if they plan to use aftermarket parts for repairs.
Click HERE to read Channel 10’s story and watch a video.

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