• Jul 23rd 2010 at 10:29AM
  • 36
Today's autos are chock-full of safety equipment that vastly improves your chances of survival in the event of a crash. And if an automaker wants to achieve the best crash test scores, it has to ensure that parts like bumper beams, air bag sensors and radiator supports perform properly during a collision. But while automakers are concerned about their safety record, in some cases, aftermarket parts makers are more concerned with keeping costs down.

USA Today reports that Ford has called out some some aftermarket parts inferior, as the Dearborn, MI-based automaker's internal testing has shown that some non-OEM parts are made of cheaper materials that may not perform adequately in the event of an accident. Parts marketing manager Mike Warwood says the company was "surprised at the gap between original manufacturer equipment and aftermarket parts," adding that the gap was larger than anticipated. The easy way to avoid this issue is to demand OEM parts when your vehicle is in the shop for repairs, but unfortunately, some insurance companies insist that cheaper aftermarket replacement parts are used.

It makes sense for Ford push its factory-made parts, as the company makes lots of money selling in excess of 24,000 different replacement components. Ford insists that it is merely looking for aftermarket parts standardization to ensure the safety of its customers, along with stickers warning consumers that non-standard parts are being used. Insurance companies and aftermarket shops likely wouldn't be too happy if a standardization process is initiated, but it's hard to argue with oversight in the name of safety. After all, automakers test and build parts like bumpers for optimal safety, and consumers purchase those vehicles in part because of the safety ratings those vehicles earn.

[Source: USA Today]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't agree. It's tough to get OEMs to cover their own mistakes (look at the BMW M3 engine failures or GM's steering issues). The idea that they are giving free repairs for repairs with bad replacement parts is rather ridiculous to me. The situation doesn't even arise much, collision parts are rarely the kind of parts that you usually get warranty coverage on anyway. Who gets in a wreck and breaks a mass airflow sensor? No, you end up replacing fenders and such and rarely do those fall under warranty claims.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Most insurance companies say they use parts of equivalent "safety rating" but this is easily shown to be false. As a word of caution to used car buyers -- do not buy a used car that has been in an accident.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ask anyone in the repair industry what they think. They call thus junk "Taiwan Trash" for a reason. Body Shop technicians HATE dealing with them, because the defect return rate exceeds 20%, and the fitment is TERRIBLE. They spend twice as long trying to approach some sort of acceptable panel alignment, which costs them personally as they can't make flat rate time.
      Your car would absolutely look like it's been in an accident and reassembled if it was repaired with this garbage. It will look like a salvage car, and it would devalue it. In fact, it's debatable you would even be able to use this garbage on a leased vehicle, as you are required to return it in like condition, which it would not be.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Aftermarket sheetmetal is absolute garbage - especially for a german car, you're much better off getting a used part and have it prepped and shot. The aftermarket stuff usually isn't galvanized and the fit is terrible when it comes to the mounting points (tolerances way off).

        Chinese bumper skins are alright though, I'm guessing because the material has enough wiggle to make it fit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      OEM? How about setting up an aftermarket parts approval scheme instead, so that insurance companies aren't so ready to write off an older vehicle where no OEM parts are available?

      Such a body would be run by consumers, rather than OEMs or third parties. Kinda like getting a decent plumber and not Joe.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And who's going to pay for testing and certification of these parts? The insurance company? Ya, right. It's an extremely expensive and time consuming process.

        I think the solution is easy. If an OEM lists a part as "crash safety critical" (airbags, seatbelts, sensors, frame components, and do on) than a third party shouldn't be allowed to sell it. Third parties would still get to compete for other non-safety parts like body panels, engine parts, soft trim, ect.

        OEM's are accused of price gouging on replacement parts, however, if the part is critical to the crash performance than it is what it is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Huh? I'm trying to work out how my suggestion *doesn't* address your concerns. Oh I get it: you're just looking for an argument with anyone who suggests a change for the better, right?

        Look guys, I'm suggesting that aftermarket parts suppliers, if they want to compete, need to be certified. Sure, you can fit the cheapest, crappiest parts if you want to. But these suppliers wouldn't compete on quality with those who'd be certified. They also wouldn't be able to compete with the scrapyards on price.

        So what's the problem guys? What's eating you?
        • 5 Years Ago
        A consumer body that oversees manufacturers, not individual consumers.

        Gee, is it really that hard to understand I agree with you?
        • 5 Years Ago
        My first post answers your question.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, it doesn't answer the question and you are avoiding giving a serious answer.

        All I was able to discern from your post is that "consumers" would do it. What consumers? You have a tensile testing machine in your garage? How about an environmental chamber? How about knowledge to run a FEA simulation?

        You have no clue what goes into certifying even something as simple as a fender or mirror.

        You make no sense.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How about no. I was in the aftermarket, as a supplier to Ford specifically. You wouldn't believe how inferior Chinese and even Korean sheet metal parts are, and yet, even with a ridiculous 20% reject rate, they're able to under bid even small, nonunion American shops like my old employer. Forget it - no aftermarket certification for replacement parts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rich - You didn't answer my question. A company from China can say all day long they certified their parts when in reality they are crap. Who is going to pay for a qualified third party to preform tests and audit the results?

        That is how the cheap knock-off parts are lower in price. They don't spend anything on design and just cut-and-paste, they skimp on material quality, and they do little, if any, safety testing.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford... great job on the awesome profit report this AM... however, this was pretty obvious.

      The same R&D that goes into the parts for some of those smaller companies just can't compare to the Billion Dollar + budgets that the big automakers have.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I think loss of money goes beyond just part sales. I wouldn't be surprised if there were plenty of cases where some an aftermarket replacement part was used, failed and OEMs end up replacing it or facing a lawsuit because of that. If a bad repair is made to a vehicle, even if the wrong parts are used people will probably still end up blaming whatever corporate logo appears on it.
      Dean Basse
      • 3 Years Ago
      All this talk about brakes, rotors, etc. The really important parts are allalmost exclusively made by the OEMs. An auto maker must allow for having parts on hand for a certain number of years, so production is overrun beyond the number of cars they expect to produce based on estimates of the number of a given replacement part they will need over that time period, The producer (and it aint't Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, etc.) also does their own overrun to accout for what they can sell in the secondary market, TO THE EXACT SAME SPECS! Why? Because on any part that is unique to a particular make, model, year, retooling a factory for a few thousand additional fenders just wouldn't pay. They get the cost savings because the OEM has already absorbed the factory tooling - the overrun is just labor and materials - gravy. No parts manufacturer would be STUPID enough to produce their own line of 2008 Honda CRV front bumper caps (unless the model is a highly customized one with huge demand, in which case they are hawking their own product anyway). Their tooling, engineering and down-time costs would be astronomical given the relatively few they could expect to sell over the next x-years. Point is, for most things of structural or life-threatening importance, no matter who's name is on the box (and many times, it is the OEM's name when you get it, regardless of where from), it is the same part produced by the same factories to the same specs. That's why is ridiculous what Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota and the rest charge for replacement parts. They enjoy the same cost savings on the overruns, so the cost should be far less. But, what they REALLY want is for you to buy a NEW car, not fix the one you have. Think it's just an accident (no pun intended) that it's the National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) that pushes the idea that cars that were formerly involved in accidents are worth less, regardless of WHO fixes them (called diminution of value)? They want insurance companies to pay for new cars! For spark plugs, wires, filters, brake parts, etc., you just have to be a smart shopper. I've been doing my own brake jobs and tune-ups for decades, and when it comes to Toyota at least, I know who to buy and who not. And by the way, insurance companies don't pay for routine brake jobs and tune-ups - that's wear-and-tear and regularly scheduled maintenance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      this is an issue absolutely plaguing the Jeep aftermarket.

      Especially considering what my Jeep goes through, I very quickly discover what is trash and what isn't. Sadly, even though Jeeps have one of the biggest aftermarkets ever, most of it is cheap garbage aside from a few brands such as Timken, Moog, and Felpro that still make automotive gold.

      I have to get OEM parts now just so I don't get stranded in the middle of the rocky mountains from cheap castings or poor design.

      Don't even get me started on Autzone's terrible Duralast line. I haven't had a single good part come out of that place.

      It's not that OEM parts are overpriced, its just the local parts store parts are THAT bad.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Structural Test Systems ? Multi Actuator Control System Filter Display # 5101520253050100All # Article Title Hits 1 Slit Burst Test Rig 239 2 Multi...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh no! Where will he find an aftermarket SYNC system? The horror....
        • 5 Years Ago
        In the posted pic i'm sure there was some behind the scenes dash damage.
        • 5 Years Ago
        SYNC is relavent exactly how?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I took my Thunderbird to the Ford dealer to get new brakes. I took it there because I assumed they would install OEM Motorcraft brakes. From the day I got it back the new brakes squealed horribly. After 6 months and 3 trips back to the dealer, I took a look at the brakes myself. Not Motorcraft. Cheap brand X crap. After a year and 5 trips to the dealer, they put in the Motorcraft brakes they should have installed originally and everything's been perfect since.

      If Ford is trying to combat cheap aftermarket parts, they should start by prohibiting their dealerships from installing them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Every company does that...not just Ford. I can tell you similar stories from the local Honda dealership.

        But I do agree. Companies should crack down. Either that or you could do the brakes yourself :) It ain't hard.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @ ERIK

      It is common for the auto giants to offer OEM aftermarket items in their own parts departments and service departments to compete with the aftermarket deals that are hyped in advertisements in print, on radio or TV.

      At your dealer, you must have chosen a MENU priced brake inspection or brake job and that comes with their Motorcraft pads/shoes.

      If you HAD specified "OEM" in the beginning, then I apologize for the false example I listed above and completely agree with you that they misled you and deserved ALL of your wrath and then some!

      However, I do not think Motorcraft parts can be painted with the same broad stroke that Motorcraft is the same poor quality as cheaper jobber parts.

      One example comes to mind from a TV show on Speed TV called Motorweek where Pat Goss (Grand Master Tech) compared OEM, OEM aftermarket and then Jobber aftermarket.

      It was on a GM Vehicle and they compared OEM brake rotors, to a Chinese made AC Delco rotor and then to a jobber (also made in China) brake rotor.

      If I recall correctly, OEM was the most money, AC Delco was noticeably cheaper than OEM but the Jobber Rotor was much cheaper still. OEM was the thickest rotor with the AC Delco within a hundredth of an inch.
      The jobber was BY FAR the thinnest out of the box and we already know that the thinner a brake rotor is, the faster it fades and warps and the dramatically shorter its lifespan is.

      In that example, Pat Goss could easily demonstrate the quality differences between OEM aftermarket VS jobber aftermarket and showed you were getting exactly what you did not pay for if you went with jobber.

      It still pays to shop around but the devil is in the details with just the "lowest price".

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