Wednesday, 24 November 2010 16:41

Results of non-OEM Parts Crash Testing Revealed at November CIC in Las Vegas

Non-OEM parts again dominated much of the agenda at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), held in Las Vegas in November in conjunction with the SEMA show. The day-long meeting included presentations by Ford Motor Company, the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA), and NSF International, the organization that launched another certification program for non-OEM parts earlier this year.

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Ford announced at the meeting that it had followed up its simulated crash testing of some non-certified non-OEM bumper parts last summer with some actual low-speed crash testing of the parts (sold as replacements for the 2005–09 Mustang) in October. The effect of the use of non-OEM parts in a subsequent crash was clear, Paul Massie, powertrain and collision product marketing manager for Ford, said.

“It will change the discussion from it ‘might’ change the airbag deployment to it ‘will’ change the airbag deployment,” Massie said.


Massie showed video of the testing, which found that a Mustang with the non-OEM reinforcement beam, energy absorber and isolator sustained $2,982 in damage in a 5-mph crash as opposed to $1,224 in damage to the same vehicle when equipped with Ford service parts. Massie said there was only about $400 difference in the estimated repair costs in an 8-mph crash, unless the reduced energy absorption of the non-OEM parts resulted in airbag deployment. Ford engineer Dave Bauch said such a deployment is more likely with the changed “crash pulse” that the testing showed is a result from the use of the non-OEM parts.

Also at CIC, CAPA announced its new standard and certification for non-OEM bumper-related parts, saying that as it developed the new standard, it found “very few bumper parts that actually matched the car company brand parts in terms of performance, materials and durability.”

Jack Gillis of CAPA said that in order to confirm that its new standard accurately identifies parts that match OEM, CAPA worked with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to crash test some non-OEM bumper parts. IIHS tested some bumper reinforcement beams that met CAPA’s certification standards and some that did not.

A non-OEM beam for the 2009 Toyota Camry that wouldn’t have met CAPA’s new standard didn’t buckle similarly to the OEM version in a low-speed crash. One for the 2005 Ford F-150 actually resulted in lower estimated repair costs than the OEM version, but only because the fog lamp recesses were different than the OEM; the difference actually protected the fog lamps better, but still would prevent the part from being certified as matching the OEM.

But a non-OEM bumper reinforcement beam designed for the 2008 Dodge Ram pick-up and that does meet CAPA’s new standard was also crash tested; the resulting estimated damage costs to the vehicle were virtually identical to the damage costs sustained when the OEM version was crash-tested at low and high speeds.

Ford’s Massie was asked to comment on the CAPA crash testing.

“I’ve got to say, I think what Jack showed today was promising,” Massie said. “The IIHS piece of it adds a lot of credibility. I think there’s a lot more we’ve got to know before we could put our stamp of approval on it, if we ever put our stamp of approval on it, but I think it was a compelling effort.”

Also at CIC, Bob Frayer of NSF International spoke about his company’s non-OEM parts certification program launched in February of this year. He said about 100 parts have been certified through the program to date, with 100 more expected to be certified by the end of this year. He said he expects that number to be close to 2,000 by the end of 2011.

Like CAPA, NSF certification requires the manufacturer to meet quality control requirements, and that parts undergo testing to determine they match OEM in terms of content, fit and function. But unlike CAPA, NSF does not require that its labs conduct the actual testing of the parts; NSF merely audits that the parts manufacturer has had testing done by a qualified facility.

“The manufacturers control testing,” Frayer said. “We can do the testing, but we only require the testing be done at an ISO 17025 accredited facility. I worked very closely with the OEMs in a previous life, and this is the same criteria they held us to in our testing.”

NSF-certified parts bear the NSF mark, Frayer said, and certification requires the manufacturer to have a system in place to conduct a part recall if there is a safety concern. Although CAPA accepts and investigates complaints about parts it certifies, under the NSF program the parts manufacturer must have a system in place to accept and respond to complaints. How does a shop know how to file such a complaint? Frayer said a phone number or email address for the manufacturer must be included on either the part or packaging.

Gillis and Frayer were asked how the industry should view the fact that there are now multiple standards and certification programs for non-OEM parts. Gillis said he doesn’t see it as a good thing, and could create confusion, just as it would if competing drug stores had different standards for aspirin that consumers had to try to sort through.

“Multiple standards often signify a diminution of the concept of standards,” Gillis said.

He welcomed critics of CAPA to contact him to get a better understanding of what it takes to meet CAPA standards, saying that those who have often are surprised and impressed by what they learn. He acknowledged that all of the significant changes to the CAPA program over the decades have been the result of challenges by collision repairers.

“We want that. We welcome that,” Gillis said.

Frayer pointed out that when NSF launched its program, it began with a standard for non-OEM bumper parts, a category of parts CAPA wasn’t certifying until this fall. He also said he doesn’t see multiple standards as a bad thing.
“If we were interested in only one standard, we would probably be buying only OEM parts and say that’s the standard and why don’t we stop there,” Frayer said. “I’d argue that both CAPA and NSF are not the first standard but the second and third in the industry (after OEM). I don’t personally think that’s a bad thing.”

Frayer was asked at CIC why he thinks the NSF program will succeed when CAPA still struggles to gain acceptance by shops, insurers, parts manufacturers and distributors.

“I think the people in this room will make that decision over time,” Frayer said. “I’m not going to comment directly on that. I think a year from now we’ll be talking again and see how we’re doing.”

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