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ABPA fires back at Ford with crash test touting aftermarket parts

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Feb. 2, 2011 — An aftermarket bumper reinforcement bar outperformed an original-equipment-supplied (OES) equivalent from Ford in a recent crash test conducted by MGA Research Corporation, according to the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA).

The parts were fitted to a pair of 2007 Ford Mustangs, which were sled-tested to hit a barrier head-on at 5 mph to measure the effectiveness of the reinforcement bars and determine the cost of repairs. Both parts absorbed the impact and protected vehicle occupants, but a piece of the bumper fell off the OES-equipped vehicle. Airbags did not deploy in either vehicle during the low-speed test.

After the test, two repair shops evaluated each of the vehicles and determined that the aftermarket-equipped car, which sustained less damage, would cost $200 less to fix.

Ford conducted a similar test last November with two Mustangs of the same year, which produced opposite results. In that study, one Mustang used original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) parts and the other was equipped with an aftermarket bumper beam, absorber and isolator, and the cars were tested at 5 mph and 8 mph. The OEM parts prevailed in both crashes and in the 5 mph test, repair estimates for the aftermarket car were twice as expensive.

The ABPA arranged the new tests in an effort to debunk Ford’s findings.

"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 Sottile, co-chairwoman of the ABPA legislation and 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."

Wes Sherwood, safety communications manager at Ford, said the company's parts meet all internal and external government standards, while aftermarket parts are not regulated. "We think customers understand the clear differences," he said.

Sottile said a company called Reflexxion made the aftermarket part used in the MGA test. That part is in the process of obtaining certification, she said.

"The reinforcement bar we selected was a good representative of the safe, high-quality, affordable parts made readily available to consumers by the aftermarket," she said.

Ford declined to name the manufacturer of the aftermarket part it used in its test. Sherwood said it wasn't appropriate to point out individual companies because the aftermarket parts issue is industry-wide.

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