Saying that the quality of certified crash parts is inconsistent, the Automotive Service Association has withdrawn its support of the Certified Automotive Parts Association.
The service association also relinquished its seat on the parts group's board.
The Automotive Service Association represents 13,000 mechanical and body-shop businesses, including about 550 new-car dealerships. The Certified Automotive Parts Association is a nonprofit organization that evaluates the quality of nonfactory crash parts and certifies them as functionally equivalent to similar parts made by auto manufacturers.
The friction between the groups will have no effect on the growing demand for aftermarket crash parts. Insurance companies will continue to recommend certified aftermarket parts when having their customers' vehicles repaired.
Dave Hurst, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance Co., said his company continues to support the Certified Automotive Parts Association. He said the service association's position has no impact on his company's use of certified aftermarket parts.
He said the company recommends certified aftermarket parts in about 20 percent of repairs. 'Our policy is to look at the parts available. If a quality part is available, then we recommend it,' Hurst said.
Walter Trapp, the Automotive Service Association's executive vice president, said the association is withdrawing its support because its members have complained for years that certified parts are hard to find, and that the quality is unreliable.
But he said many of his members probably will continue to use the parts because of pressure from insurance companies.
Jack Gillis, executive director of the Certified Automotive Parts Association, said the Automotive Service Association never fully supported his group anyway. He said that the quality of certified crash parts is equal to that of OEM crash parts, and that the collision repairers have always favored OEM parts because they generate higher profits.
Crash parts are the exterior sheet metal such as fenders and hoods that can be damaged in an auto accident.
'It is extraordinarily disingenuous and false to say they are withdrawing support when they've never supported CAPA,' said Gillis, who is the author of The Car Book 1998, a consumer guide to new-car buying.
Gillis said 2.5 million certified crash parts were purchased in 1997. He said he expects the number to increase to about 3 million in 1998.
Nonfactory parts makers 'can't supply these parts fast enough,' Gillis said.
INDUSTRY SHARES BLAME
Bob Anderson, owner of Anderson's Automotive Service Center in Sheffield, Ohio, agrees that the collision repair industry is partly to blame for the poor quality of some non-OEM parts.
Anderson, who is the immediate past chairman of the Automotive Service Association's board of directors, said he returns at least 50 percent of the certified parts that he buys to his distributor because the parts are defective. Sending parts back delays the repair, creates extra paperwork, and means he must renegotiate prices with the insurance company, the consumer or both.
Shops lose when repairers need extra time to modify the part to make it fit properly; the consumer loses when the shop uses a defective part as-is, he said.
Fewer professional shops are using those parts, Anderson said, 'and consumers are getting ripped off.'
John Loftus, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, said his members are unhappy with the quality of certified aftermarket crash parts. He said the society, which represents 8,387 collision repair businesses, has warned the parts association that it will withdraw its support if the parts association cannot do a better job of monitoring quality.