Experienced Collision Center Owner Inspects Safety of Aftermarket Parts Used In Crash Test


Burl Richards, the owner of Burl’s Collision Center and President of the Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT) reviews the Honda Fit crash test vehicle that was outfitted with aftermarket parts or as we say imitation parts. Richards who literally grew up in the auto body repair business prepared two vehicles for the crash tests.  He supervised a team assisted by members of ABAT that replaced key structural members with imitation parts on one vehicle (Blue) and replaced a roof panel using glued instead of 108 OEM welds on a second test vehicle.

Aftermarket Parts Tested

Three vehicles including an original OEM Honda Fit which was the control subject for the scientific tests were crash tested at KARCO Engineering in a joint project by ABAT and Todd Tracy’s Vehicle Safety Law Firm.  Tracy and his team of automotive engineers will soon publish data that demonstrates the life threatening forces that were created for occupants (simulated by state of the art crash test dummies) in both non OEM vehicles.

These crash tests were undertaken in the wake of a $42 Million damages verdict by a Dallas County Jury against a Dallas collision center that did not use an OEM standard repair.  The collision center’s manager testified that State Farm Insurance company dictated the non OEM repair if the body shop expected to get paid for its work.

After the verdict, dozens of body shop owners contacted Todd Tracy complaining that auto insurance carriers bully them into making unsafe repairs by using non OEM structural parts and procedures.  So ABAT and the Tracy Law Firm put the auto insurance bullies to the test by conducting crash tests.

Safety of Aftermarket Parts Examined

In this video, Burl Richards walks you through the damage on the vehicle equipped with aftermarket parts.
For those of you who prefer to read, here’s a transcript of Burl’s video:

Comparing the vehicle that had that after-market parts on it as opposed to the OEM car that had never been repaired, some of the things that really stand out to me is how much further the damage carried back into the car – in the frame rail, underneath here, on the inner wheelhouse. If you’ll notice how the separation, how this inner wheelhouse is separated right here at the firewall, how it was pushed through here and I can stick my finger through here, and how the wrinkles are and all this area right here, and what that did is that carried back through the car back underneath the frame rails.

You can see how this bracket that is welded to the floor pan, how bent up and distorted it is as opposed to the other one that was flat. You can also notice that this frame rail did not crush and absorb the energy the way it did on the other vehicle, so what happened is, the energy traveled further back into this vehicle and right here, you can see separation at this cross member and the rear floor pan.

Male Speaker: And this is by the gas tank?

Which is by the gas tank as opposed to the other vehicle, but if you look at the after-market, it crushed – it went back further, it bent, it didn’t sustain the energy the way the OEM hood did but I’m really thinking about, more than anything, the structural parts, like they’re going to be the bumper bar that was put on this vehicle which was after-market, this bumper bar is sitting over here, so that bumper bar did not absorb the energy the same way that the factory bumper bar did. It has these little ripples in it, the correlations right here?

And we didn’t like that as opposed to the OEM when it was almost flush and flat right here, so there was a noticeable difference there, and then also, where the bumper reinforcement mounts to the frame rails, the holes did not align properly. So that was also a sign that we’ve got a different top part on our hands here.

So one of the things that we notice whenever we use the after-market radiator support is that we did a hardness test, and we know that there is a difference between the hardness of this after-market radiator support as opposed to the OEM radiator support, so there is a difference there. Also, the mounting brackets on the after-market radiator support that hold – these are the brackets that came here. These are the airbag sensors mounting brackets and if you’ll notice, there’s only one hole here, that’s because that other hole would not align, so we did not want to manipulate this after-market part in any shape or form, so we didn’t drill the hole, we didn’t slot the hole, we mounted the centers the way that the after-market part allowed us to.

The core support came apart but it went back further than what the factory OEM radiator support did. I think by going back further and being made of, I don’t know, a different alloy or a different tensile strength, this radiator support allowed the damage to carry back further than the factory one did. This proves to me that the after-market parts react differently than the OEM factory parts.

So we’ve always known that the OEM parts fit better, that the after-market parts don’t fit as well, so cosmetically, that was always an issue with me delivering a vehicle to a customer with improper fits and body lines that didn’t match. So you would think that one thing leads to the other. If the part doesn’t fit the same, it would react different.

But Todd, the Todd Tracy Law Firm for their ability to be able to have these vehicles crash test, this is used for the industry because we can prove that the parts, whether they do or they do not act differently than the manufacturer parts, and if they do act differently, it’s a huge safety concern, it’s a huge safety issue. As a body shop owner, you’re caught in the middle because you want the vehicle to be repaired properly, you want it to be repaired safely, but if the insurance company refuses to reimburse you for the proper parts that you need, you can’t run a business and pay more for parts than what they cost you.

Do Aftermarket Parts React Differently?

So our goal here is to find out, do they aftermarket parts react differently? Time will tell whenever they get all their information loaded and downloaded, but from the initial appearance, I would say there’s absolutely a huge difference between the aftermarket parts and the OEM parts.

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