CAPA and the Law of Unintended Consequences

March 20, 2009 by
Filed under: Collision Repair Industry 

The insurance industry’s meddling in parts manufacturing and so called “certification” is putting them in a difficult position. Since CAPA is the preeminent entity in the pursuit of aftermarket excellence, all aftermarket parts manufacturers endeavour to capture the esteemed certification for the parts they make. But what happens when a part doesn’t pass CAPA’s rigorous (don’t worry, I’m not smoking any thing. Just using CAPA’s propaganda) tests? What does it mean when they fail?

Working in a small shop in a small town filled with small, inexpensive cars, I now have the pleasure of working with aftermarket parts more frequently than I did in the past working at a high end dealership. Very often, aftermarket parts are the only thing standing between a repair and a total loss. These little economy cars aren’t worth much, but their owners aren’t either, so they usually can’t afford to let their car go to scrap. For them, aftermarket parts are simply the best of two evils. They’d rather have us put crappy parts on their crappy car to save it, than have to deal with finding a replacement.

It may not be much, but CAPA is about all we have between us and the little thieves in China who are great at stealing other company’s designs and producing counterfeits. And as much as I hate to admit it, CAPA has improved the quality of aftermarket parts….somewhat.

In order to fatten their profit margins insurers are demanding the use of these inferior parts more and more. Many are even circumventing state laws by writing aftermarket parts use into their insurance policy language. How clever of them.

We all know that the insurance industry has bankrolled CAPA since it’s beginning. It’s their little monster. So what do they do when their little monster puts them in a unpleasant situation? Why, ignore it, of course.

Let’s have a little lesson is logic, shall we? You’ve got a product that you want everyone to buy. The product is crap, but you must lend it some legitimacy, so you create a company that tests this crappy product to see if it will pass the most basic of quality controls. This testing causes some of this product to improve enough to make it salable–somewhat usable. Let’s just say it is now not so crappy. This improvement has greatly increased sales of this product, but only those items that have been improved enough to pass quality control. What does that say about those items that have not passed this quality control? Shouldn’t they be scrapped? Why even try to sell them.

All you insurance company personnel reading this, and there are a boatload of you out there, please give this some thought. Peerless insurance, Hanover, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, you know who you are, how can you find the balls to write aftermarket parts that are not CAPA certified? You know damn well that they aren’t certified for a reason. They do not meet the basic requirements to become certified, yet you ignoramuses still write them. And when I call you folks to point out that these parts are not certified you explain that your company doesn’t use CAPA guidelines. If it’s available aftermarket, you have to write it and that is all you’ll pay for. Are you frigging kidding me? Are you morons or do you think everyone else is a moron?

If a part is not good enough to pass the half-assed standards applied to CAPA, how do you insurance geniuses suppose it’s going to fit on the car? And you all just pass the buck and say that those are company policies and you can’t do anything about it. What are you people, government employees now? Make a frigging decision.

Twice this week I’ve had to deal with some yahoo who couldn’t grasp the simple logic of this argument. Every aftermarket part aspires to become CAPA certified. If it doesn’t make it, it should be destined for the scrap heap. Do you actually think there are little China-men thinking, “no we don’t want no CAPA?” If they are too cheap to pay for the certification they are definitely too cheap to spend the money on quality tooling and trained people.

CAPA certification, by no means, guarantees an aftermarket part will fit and be safe. Lack of certification,however, does guaranty a problem part. You should hear the stammering and stuttering from these people on the other end of the phone line when I try to reason with them that a non-certified aftermarket part is not going to fit well. When you enlighten these folks with a little logic, it leaves them stunned and passing you off to someone higher up the food chain.

There are many CAPA decertifications every month. In fact, you can go to CAPA’s website and sign up for weekly updates. Right now, most of those decertifications are on hoods. I’ll go as far as to say that there is not a CAPA certified hood out there that shouldn’t be decertified. The skins do not stay attached to the frames when hit. Most aftermaket manufacturers us no adhesive and those companies that do are not using the correct adhesive. In my opinion, CAPA certification means nothing, but at least it’s a starting point. And anything that can’t get the CAPA seal shouldn’t be considered by repairers or insurers.

So what’s it going to be insurance industry? Are you going to get morally honest or are you going to continue to do whatever saves you the most money? You are pushing legislation that will make CAPA parts equal to OEM in the eyes of the law. How’s that going to work out for you? How are you going to push non certified parts once that goal is achieved?

You’re going to end up in court over this, and your only chance at winning is to stack the jury with all Obama voters. They’re they only people who may have trouble grapsing the simple logic, the logic you’ll have to bury in order for you to win.

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