Uncertified “Grey Market” Parts For Car Repairs May Undermine Crash Safety
After a car crash, car repair and body shops often install “aftermarket” or “knock-off” replacement parts that are cheaper than the original parts, saving consumers lots of money. The Insurance Information Institute reports that aftermarket parts have saved consumers more than $2.2 billion in repair costs since 2010. The bad news: The bulk of these parts are not certified for quality and safety.car auto body parts
Knock-off parts purchased on the so-called “grey market” aren’t really an issue when it comes to fenders, grills and other cosmetic features that don’t affect safety. But structural parts like hoods and bumpers are another matter, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If those parts aren’t up to standard, the cheap car repair could come at a very high price.
“I refuse to use aftermarket parts,” says Florida car dealer Earl Stewart, a consumer advocate based in North Palm Beach who has worked in body shops for the last 47 years. A poorly made part, he says, “can make the difference between airbag deployment and someone’s head going through the windshield.”Unless you’ve been hanging around repair shops lately, you may not have heard of aftermarket parts and OEMS. Here’s a quick review: Some replacement parts come from Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMS, which use carmarker specifications to create a blueprint so their copy will be identical to the “genuine” parts from the carmaker. Aftermarket auto parts are copies of an original part. Some are certified for quality by a non-profit organization, and others aren’t.
The safety of aftermarket parts became a hot issue in 2010, when Consumer Reports reported computer-simulated crash tests from Ford showing that knock-off bumpers and radiator parts could cause the airbag system to malfunction.