Aftermarket parts frustrations abound in the industry. We recently had to go through the NESHAP deadlines, so I get it. Does anyone in Washington care how this affects us?
My respected colleague Toby Chess performed a moving demonstration at the Collision Industry Conference during industry week in 2009: He cut both an OEM front bumper reinforcement and a substandard front bumper reinforcement. The results were staggering and impressionable.
The surge of aftermarket parts usage is bringing the challenges around monopolies, standards and competition to the forefront. All stakeholders in the industry need to understand the risks of a monopoly. But all sides must also understand the costs of engineering, testing and other related investments in the development of a replacement part. Competition, after all, occurs when two or more parties bid on the same product or service that meets or exceeds a given criteria.
Many repairers are open-minded about using aftermarket parts if those parts meet the same criteria as a comparable OEM replacement part. Parts being chosen by economic criteria alone, without verification of performance capabilities, should not be an accepted practice by any portion of the industry.
As we move forward into a slow economic recovery, the average age of vehicles on the road will continue to remain at current levels during these next 18 months. That creates continued liability exposure to those repairers who use the cheaper parts.
As in any industry, the ability to educate—in Washington and elsewhere—is extremely important. As members of this industry, we’re considered to be the experts on repairing vehicles, and we have to move forward with integrity.
Ray Fisher is the president of ASA-Michigan. This article represents his opinion and does not reflect the views of ASA-Michigan.