Insurance companies often include the use of "imitation" or non-original, generic sheet metal replacement parts on their estimates. They never actually call these inferior parts "imitations." The fact of the matter is that these parts are not made to the same exacting standards as those from the manufacturer of your vehicle.
Rather than calling these parts what they truly are, insurers prefer friendlier terms and use their abbreviations in their insurance estimates to pass them off as quality parts to the uneducated consumer, such as: "Quality Replacement Part" (QRP) or "Like, Kind and Quality" (LKQ). These parts are usually from offshore companies based in overseas countries such as Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, or Indonesia. These parts lack the corrosion protection, precise engineering, and higher safety and quality standards afforded in O.E.M. (original equipment manufacturer) parts.
Time after time, these imitation parts have been shown to be inferior in terms of fit (typically evidenced by slotted holes or reworked body lines), overall finish (low grade primers), and corrosion resistance (demonstrated by salt spray testing). Independent studies have consistently shown the inequities of these poor quality parts when compared to their original counterparts.
Aside from initial quality issues such as fit, corrosion resistance, and finish, these parts have been demonstrated to lead to increased damage in cases of subsequent collisions. That is, their use can actually lead to increased damage (and increased repair costs) if the vehicle is subject to in another collision involving the area(s) where the imitation parts were installed.
This isn't just our opinion... The Massachusetts Division of Insurance held a meeting on the safety concerns of aftermarket parts. Too bad it never made it to their web site. They buried it pretty fast. After reading it, you'll understand why. The full version can be found here:www.wreckcheckboston.com/ADALB.html
Here are our favorite quotes from that report:
1. "The after market hood in the video "buckled just like the original" but then proceeded to enter the passenger compartment during the crash while the original hood did not."
2. "The safest choice may in fact cost the consumer more money."
3. "These parts, because they are lighter, thinner and less braced, are clearly not of like/kind/quality to OEM parts.The use of after-market parts may compromise the over-all safety of the vehicle" if it is in a subsequent auto accident.
4. "cosmetic" crash parts appear to suffer from the same manufacturing defects as aftermarket structural parts.
5. "Their overall weight, rigidity and quality of both metal and plastics, differs from their OEM counterparts."
6. "It is, we believe, very safe to assert in writing that the quality and fit of after-market cosmetic parts are not the equal of an original."
7."after-market cosmetic parts are not the exact duplicate of the factory original parts and may jeopardize the safety and value of the vehicle".
8."An improperly manufactured cosmetic part has the very real potential to affect the safety of an auto."
9. "If quality rather than cost becomes the over-riding guiding principle used by appraisers in preparing an appraisal report, the use of poorly made parts would immediately and significantly drop."
10. "The owner must do his/her part. He/she must not accept the use of parts that are visibly inferior to the damaged parts. If they do, the safety of their vehicle and its value may both suffer."
11. "complete lack of a product safety testing or product safety recall program by either the manufacturer or the distributor of these aftermarket parts."
12."not always of the same strength and durability as the metal and plastics used by the original manufacturer."
13. "There is no agency, international, federal, or state, that monitors or evaluates the suitability of an after market part as it leaves the plant of the manufacturer to distributor like Veng® or Keystone® then to an auto body shop and ultimately the auto."
14."If a part does not fit correctly, if a weld is too weak, if in fact a part is unsafe for use there does not exist a system or method of identifying who may have bought a similar part."
15."Currently, it is not possible to specifically warn any purchaser of an after market part of a defect."
Be aware of any estimate that includes the use of aftermarket parts. They should be clearly marked as such on any estimate. Ask questions about any safety concerns, especially with hoods and bumper reinforcements that can effect SRS (air bag ) deployment timing. According to shops in the area, demand by insurers for aftermarket part usage is increasing as insurers continue to pressure shops to lower repair costs.
It's your vehicle, it's your choice. Make it an informed decision. And contrary to what anyone may tell you, there is NO LAW OR REGULATION that mandates the use of generic aftermarket crash parts, at least in Massachusetts