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CAWA refutes letter to policymakers opposing aftermarket parts

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Jan. 20, 2012—The California/Nevada/Arizona Automotive Wholesalers’ Association (CAWA) said auto manufacturers’ attack on the aftermarket parts industry has heightened in the government affairs process, according to a statement released by the organization this week.

In December 2011, several automotive organizations sent a joint letter to senators and assembly members in opposition of aftermarket crash parts legislation. Organizations that signed the letter include the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, California New Car Dealers Association, California Autobody Association and Consumer Attorneys of California.

The organizations’ joint letter stated the following:

“The above-identified organizations and signatories write to inform you of their collective opposition to legislation that promotes non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) crash parts as the functional equivalent of OEM parts. Non-OEM crash parts are parts made by a party other than the original car manufacturer without the dimensions, design specifications, tolerances or other information known to the original equipment manufacturer.

“Existing law requires insurers that compel consumers to accept non-OEM parts when vehicles are repaired to inform consumers that ‘imitation’ parts will be used and to warrant the ‘imitation’ parts are ‘of like kind, quality, safety, fit and performance’ as OEM parts. For years, the insurance industry and offshore, aftermarket parts industry have tried to weaken the law so they may compel unsuspecting consumers to accept inferior non-OEM parts.

“We support existing law and oppose efforts to weaken it for the following reasons:
• Existing law promotes disclosure and fair repair practices.
• Too many non-OEM parts are clearly inferior to OEM parts. For example, see the Bureau of Automotive Repair study on this issue. Also, Consumer Reports has debunked the argument that aftermarket ‘tin’ parts are comparable to OEM parts.
• Use of non-OEM parts may impair warranties and reduce the value of used vehicles.
• Vehicles are increasingly complex, designed to dissipate crash energy by collapsing as engineered, and rely on multiple sensors to immediately deploy airbags upon contact. The use of ‘imitation’ parts may impair these highly integrated functions and endanger passengers.”

The CAWA said it has regularly reminded aftermarket business owners, executives and managers about the perception legislators have of aftermarket replacement parts. Legislators do not distinguish between crash and hard parts as manufactured and distributed by the aftermarket, according to the CAWA.

The CAWA will continue to defend the aftermarket's reputation as a necessary option in the public’s best interests when it comes to replacement parts and service, the organization said. The CAWA plans to promote the aftermarket parts industry through meetings with legislators and their staffs, district visits to parts stores and warehouses, lobbying efforts and political action funding.

“This new and bolder attack by the car companies and their new car dealers will not go unnoticed and will be challenged with the resources available to us,” the CAWA said. “Rest assured, CAWA will continue to promote and protect the interests of the aftermarket industry and your ability to do business in the states we represent.”

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