Friday, 19 February 2010 10:56

ASA Requests NHTSA Use Authority to Regulate Aftermarket Crash Parts

Automotive Service Association (ASA) has written a letter to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator David L. Strickland asking him to review why NHTSA does not regulate aftermarket crash parts and to begin an aftermarket crash parts regulatory program as soon as feasible.

For years ASA’s policy for automotive replacement crash parts has been that consumers should have notice as to the types of parts used to repair their vehicles and give written consent as to the use of these parts. However, very few states have implemented this policy, so most consumers have no conception of the parts used in a repair. ASA is very concerned with the quality and safety issues relative to the proliferation of aftermarket crash parts being used to repair vehicles involved in a collision.

In 2000, ASA met with members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce and asked the committee to investigate NHTSA’s role in aftermarket crash parts regulation. The committee requested that the General Accounting Office (GAO) review NHTSA’s role in regulating replacement crash parts. The GAO report on “Motor Vehicle Safety: NHTSA’s Ability to Detect and Recall Defective Replacement Crash Parts is Limited” resulted in several important conclusions:
NHTSA has broad authority to set safety standards for aftermarket crash parts. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act provides NHTSA with the authority to prescribe safety standards for new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle equipment sold in interstate commerce – a category that includes aftermarket crash parts. Although NHTSA has the authority to regulate aftermarket crash parts, it has not determined that these parts pose a significant safety concern and therefore has not developed safety standards for them. The act also provides NHTSA with more limited authority to prescribe safety performance standards for used motor vehicles to encourage and strengthen state motor vehicle inspection programs. Because NHTSA may set motor vehicle safety standards for vehicle systems (like brakes and lights as well as for an entire vehicle, the agency could elect to develop safety standards for occupant restraint systems, which could incorporate airbags, under the used vehicle provision. NHTSA has not developed such standards because it has not identified significant problems with occupant restraint systems that could be addressed by state motor vehicle inspection programs.
Less than half the states have state motor vehicle inspection programs.