ABPA is saying that a laboratory crash test performed in December 2010 by MGA Research Corporation determined that an aftermarket bumper reinforcement bar outperformed its original equipment supplied (OES) equivalent, the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) announced.
The trial involved sled-testing a pair of 2007 Ford Mustangs into a front-end barrier at 5 mph (the same test presented by Ford at the Collision Industry Conference last November), measuring the effectiveness of the reinforcement bars and estimating the costs of repair to the aftermarket and OES-equipped vehicles.
"We decided to incur the expense of further testing to illustrate comparable performance and to disprove the claim that it costs more to repair aftermarket-equipped vehicles than those with only OEM or OES parts," said Eileen A. Sottile, co-chair of the ABPA Legislation & Regulation Committee. "Tests have consistently demonstrated that aftermarket parts perform just as well as original equipment components, and consumers should feel good about having these parts on their vehicles."
While both parts effectively absorbed the impact and protected the vehicle occupants, a piece of the bumper fell off of the Mustang outfitted with an OES reinforcement bar. The low-speed test did not result in the deployment of the air bag systems on either vehicle.
Two repair shops which ABPA says are "highly regarded" were asked to calculate the costs of repair to the test vehicles without knowledge of the parts used in the crash test. One of the shops gave an identical estimate for repairs, while the other (a Ford dealer body shop) estimated that it would cost approximately $200 less to repair the aftermarket-equipped vehicle than the one with original equipment parts, which sustained more damage, according to ABPA.
"When aftermarket and OEM parts performed equally well in trials at 35 mph, some industry members complained that the tests were conducted at too high a rate of speed, making all rebars 'toast' even though the government requires tests at 35 mph in order to test for occupant safety," said Sottile. "Now that this low-speed test has vindicated the aftermarket in terms of quality, safety and damageability, the focus should return to preventing more cars from becoming total losses, which means everyone wins — the repairer, the insurer and, most importantly, the vehicle owner."
The ABPA says it will perform additional testing and also make those results public.