Research Casts Doubt on Aftermarket Parts

Feb 09, 2010

Via Automotive Fleet:

New research is raising concerns about the safety of some aftermarket crash parts requested by some insurance companies to settle claims, according to the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS). 

The study compared randomly selected OEM parts with aftermarket structural replacement parts, including front and rear bumper reinforcement beams, radiator core supports, bumper brackets, safety restraint systems, and bumper energy absorbers.  

According to SCRS, tests revealed “significant differences” in the aftermarket parts’ construction and materials used, compared to the OEM parts. These differences were reflected in the parts’ effectiveness in the transfer of energy resulting from a collision, SCRS said. However, the research also found that when manufacturers pay particular attention to using the same materials as the OEM and employ credible third-party testing, the parts perform much better in crash tests. 

“This is a serious issue that has not received enough attention from the industry in the past,” said SCRS National Director Toby Chess. “These parts are critically affecting the structural design of a vehicle in its post-repair state.” 

A presentation summarizing the research is available at http://www.scrs.com. Chess has made a number of presentations about the research at recent industry conferences. 

Industry concerns about the problem are already making a difference.  Insurance company GEICO last week implemented a policy shift, announcing it would no longer specify aftermarket replacement parts for bumper reinforcements, energy absorbers and brackets in the repair of customers’ vehicles. 

The company said it planned to gather additional information about aftermarket bumper reinforcements, absorbers and brackets; GEICO didn’t rule out eventually returning to its previous policy if its own research supported that decision.

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Army under the Creative Commons License.