The Auto Body Association of Connecticut, based in Prospect, and The New York State Auto Collision Technicians Association each issued news releases urging members to "immediately stop" using so-called aftermarket bumper parts and alerting consumers "to the potential safety risks" linked to them.
The releases came 10 days after a national certification organization announced plans to establish new standards for aftermarket bumpers. See related stories under Industry News at Autobody News
According to the Auto Body Association of Connecticut, which has about 150 member businesses, the potentially hazardous parts include front and rear bumper reinforcement beams, radiator core supports, bumper brackets and bumper energy absorbers. It said the parts are critical to a vehicle's structure and safety, and could adversely affect the performance of safety systems such as airbags.
"This is not just a Connecticut issue, this is a national issue," said Bob Skrip, president of the state association and owner of Skrip's Auto Body at 104 Cheshire Road in Prospect. "We've been saying for years that these parts are not of like kind or quality, but the insurance industry has been pushing these parts because of the cost."
The concerns raised are based on crash tests done in January by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, a Prosser, Wash.-based association of collision repair professionals with 6,000 member businesses and 58,000 member repair technicians nationwide.
Aaron Schulenburg, SCRS executive director, said the tests compared bumper replacement parts made by Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota with those from aftermarket manufacturers.
"The parts did have significant differences," Schulenburg said. "There were some visual differences where the OEM part was smooth and clean in its design, while the aftermarket had rippling in the metal." He said that was a sign the OEM part was forged with a curve, while the aftermarket part was forged straight and then bent. The rippling could be a sign of weakness in the metal, he said.
Schulenburg said the test results are enough to raise questions.
"The consumer should be aware of what's going onto their vehicle when they're involved in a claim or repair," he said. "It's important for consumers to be knowledgeable about the differences in these parts."