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CIC Highlights Issue of Counterfeit Auto Parts

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PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Jan. 17, 2020—The video clip showed, in slow-motion, a watermelon flying toward an air bag. On-screen script noted what could happen if an air bag was even seven hundredths of a second off from what’s normal. 

Shortly after that, the watermelon exploded on impact. 

And with that, Thursday’s Collision Industry Conference gathering in Palm Springs, Calif., had begun, in earnest, in eye-opening fashion. 

A special presentation, titled “The Threat of Counterfeit Auto Parts,” illustrated in vivid detail just how deadly counterfeit air bags can be, in the aforementioned video. It captured the attention of the assembled crowd at the Hilton Palm Springs, to say the least.

“Every part in a car can be counterfeited, and it is,” said Subaru of America executive John Lancaster, presenting on behalf of the Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council (A2C2). “You hear a lot about air bags, but … windshields, logos, everything is counterfeited. It keeps us busy.” 

That’s why Lancaster and the panel on Thursday in Palm Springs issued a call to the industry at large to look for red flags for counterfeit parts. And, to clarify, the presenters noted that both aftermarket parts and OEM parts are currently being counterfeited. Many counterfeit auto parts are tied to online sales, they noted. 

The group said the following are common indicators of counterfeit parts:

  • Poor packaging and empty boxes
  • Packaging labels that don’t match, or feature misspellings 
  • Labels with conflicting information  
  • Unrealistic production dates
  • Labels hiding other labels

Another eye-opening element of that CIC presentation: The group presenting on counterfeit parts asked the assembled audience, in a poll, if they had ever unknowingly been a victim of purchasing counterfeit parts. Eighteen percent of respondents answered with a “yes,” and 54 percent acknowledged they were “not sure.” 

The bottom line, the panel said, is that body shop operators need to know where they’re getting their parts from, and know their supply chain. 

Re-evaluating estimates

During Thursday’s estimating committee presentation at CIC, Kevin Earlywine, an executive with Full Impact Technologies, analyzed how the collision repair industry can handle the estimate process during the ongoing technological evolution. 

While current estimating issues within the industry include veteran collision repairers using the same procedures year in and year out, for example, Earlywine said body shops need to integrate OEM procedures into estimates. OEM standards need to become the industry standard, he suggested. And, in order to work toward that, he noted, body shop staffs need to become better educated. 

“We need a well-educated industry that knows how to write for the visual as well as the non-visual damages,” Earlywine said. 

In short, he said education, validated by industry-wide certification, is key. Additionally, Earlywine suggested that body shop staffs need to educate customers on how to seek out certified shops. 

Charitable nature

This week, the National Auto Body Council’s NABC Day featured a Recycled Rides presentation that benefited three families. Three refurbished vehicles went to Palm Springs residents. 

Each year, the NABC and its partners raise funds to support the Recycled Rides initiative. Recipients of this week's vehicle giveaway included: 

  • Maryjane Cano-Cruz, an 18-year-old student at California State University San Bernardino, who was selected to receive a 2013 Ford Fusion SE that was donated in part by CARSTAR Allstar Collision.
  • Ashly Potter, a single mother with a young son who has Autism, received a 2017 Toyota Camry SE that was donated in part by Fix Auto Cathedral City. 
  • Melissa Lozano, who escaped from a gang-infested neighborhood, received a 2018 Honda Civic Sport that was donated in part by Hamblin’s Auto Body. 

CIECA’s search

CIECA representative Ed Weidmann on Thursday in Palm Springs announced that the organization is currently searching for an executive director who will serve as operations officer, as well as a project coordinator who is especially tech-savvy. 

Those interested, or whom can offer leads, are encouraged to contact the organization by emailing ed@cieca.com.

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