October 26, 2000
Certification Improves - Nashville:
Washington DC: On March 1999, the Certified Auto Parts Association (CAPA) began requiring all parts entering its certification program to pass a vehicle test-fit before certification. A year later, a Collision Industry Conference (CIC) test shows that the quality of CAPA parts continues to improve. "The vehicle test-fit program was developed by CAPA's validator, Entela, in partnership with members of the collision repair industry and aftermarket parts manufacturers to ensure that CAPA parts fit properly," said Butch Viccellio, President of the Board of Directors of CAPA.
The CAPA vehicle test-fit requirement is designed to accomplish two goals: to overcome inconsistency in the quality and fit of car company service parts, and to ensure that CAPA parts pass one ultimate test for repairers-the fit. The vehicle test-fit is conducted in addition to CAPA's standard intense battery of material, corrosion and appearance tests.
The CIC Parts & Airbag Committee recently conducted its latest test comparing car manufacturer service parts to aftermarket parts. In this test, the CAPA-certified parts received higher ratings than the car company brand parts in all categories-fit, finish and overall acceptability. "I am proud of how well CAPA-certified parts performed in blind testing," said Viccellio. "This clearly demonstrates the impact that successful teamwork between auto repairers, part manufacturers and CAPA can have on the quality of aftermarket parts."
In the blind test, participants judged four car company parts and four aftermarket parts on fit, finish and overall acceptability. The CAPA parts were rated higher than their car company counterparts in all aspects. Other non-CAPA aftermarket parts were also compared to their car company counterparts with mixed results.
The test was conducted in a carefully orchestrated sequence: Prior to changing parts on the test vehicle, the fit of the manufacturer's parts was rated. Original parts were then replaced on a "blind" basis with either car company or aftermarket replacement parts. Evaluators were unaware of the source of the parts they were rating. The parts were rated for fit, finish and overall acceptability. The fit and finish were rated 1 to 5, with 5 being best.
CAPA's Vehicle Test Fit
"The CIC results confirm the significant contribution that our vehicle test-fit requirement has made in improving the quality of parts certified by CAPA," said Viccellio. "And we're hearing the same story from folks who use our parts in repairs around the country."
Here's how CAPA's vehicle test-fit works: once the part passes CAPA's extensive material and appearance requirements, the manufacturer selects 3 parts from the first production run and ships them to CAPA. CAPA uses an undamaged vehicle to conduct a detailed measurement and examination of the comparable original equipment part, which is used as a basis for approving the part for certification. The process includes a complete comparison of the gap, flush, holes, bodylines, ease of installation and other factors.
As of September 15, 2000, 319 parts have undergone a vehicle test fit; 224 parts have received CAPA certification, while 95 parts were not certified and returned to the manufacturer for further improvement.
Note: For more information on the CIC test results, see the CIC Web site: www.ciclink.com.
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