Issue #2: Table of Contents
Functionally Equivalent? LKQ? Similar? Equal?
Collision Repairers: The Cornerstone of CAPA’s Quality Program
CAPA: Who We Are … What We Do
Vehicle Test Fit Program
Some More Good News From CAPA
What CAPA is Not!


Functionally Equivalent? LKQ? Similar? Equal?

At CAPA, we’re often asked to describe how certified parts compare to car company parts. The term we use is “functionally equivalent.” We chose this term because we think it best describes how CAPA certified parts relate to the car company parts they replace. Simply put, CAPA certified parts should perform the same as car company brand parts in every significant aspect. This includes fit, finish, strength, material content, corrosion protection and more. We believe that the difference between a CAPA certified part and a car company brand part should be invisible to both the repairer and consumer.

We recently were asked if CAPA’s parts were of like kind and quality. Because collision repairers often ask this question, we thought you would be interested in our response.

First, parts certified by CAPA as ‘functionally equivalent’ to car company parts are, most certainly, of ‘like kind and quality’ in all significant respects to the corresponding car company branded parts they replace.

Many state and local statutes and regulations use the term “like kind and quality” as the standard for replacement parts used in the repair of automobiles. “Like kind and quality” is frequently defined to mean “equal to” the car company part in criteria such as fit, quality, performance, form, and finish. In addition, many insurance policies contain a requirement that replacement parts used in repairs be of “like kind and quality” to the car company parts being replaced, although the term is generally not defined in those policies. In both of these cases, the intent is to ensure that the use of a part made by a manufacturer other than the car company does not compromise the quality of the repair. CAPA parts meet the standard of like kind and quality.

By using the term “functionally equivalent” to describe the relationship between replacement parts that meed the CAPA certification standard and the car company parts they replace, we have chosen the most stringent of requirements. It is not a lower, nor less stringent standard than “like kind and quality.” However, both terms are intended to convey the concept of equality between the replacement part and the car company part and are often used interchangeably.

CAPA chose the term “functionally equivalent” because, literally speaking, “functionally equivalent” is a higher standard than “like kind and quality”: the former entails equality (“equivalent”) which the latter implies only similarity (“like”). Therefore, parts certified by CAPA under the “functionally equivalent” standard are most certainly of “like kind and quality” in all significant respects to the corresponding car company branded parts they replace.

Collision Repairers: The Cornerstone of CAPA’s Quality Program

Oh behalf of the many collision repairers we’ve worked with and who have substantially contributed to the improvement of part quality, CAPA would like to set the record straight on our long-standing effort to directly involve collision repairers in communicating their needs to part manufacturers in a positive and proactive manner.

Following is a brief snapshot of the efforts of collision repairers in developing CAPA’s quality standards over the years. Chances are, you’ll recognize many of the names of those who have helped us.

1989: CAPA’s efforts to initiate productive communication between collision repairers and manufacturers began in 1989. At that time, CAPA’s newly appointed Executive Director Jack Gillis and the first collision repair representative on the board, Dick Cossette of Lehman’s Garage in Minneapolis visited the manufactrers. CAPA chose to introduce the manufacturers to Dick Cossette for three reasons: his reputation as a respected leader in the industry, his keen understanding of the needs of collision repairers, and his excellent communication skills. Dick Cossette was able to clearly and directly communicate the needs of collision repairers to manufacturers.

Myth: Using a CAPA part could void a new car warranty.
Fact: Using a CAPA part does not void a new car warranty. In fact, it is illegal to claim or imply that the use of a part made by someone other than the original manufacturer will void a warranty. CAPA parts generally come with a warranty from the part supplier or the insurance company which has paid for its use. Ironically, both car company and non-car company parts have much better warranties than those from the car companies a few years ago. This is due solely to the competition provided by aftermarket parts.

1990: One of CAPA’s stalwart supporters and most trusted and turned-to advisors, Jerry Dalton, led a special task force of CAPA Technical Committee members to conduct an important evaluation of the validator. During that process, Jerry worked closely with many of the manufacturers and gained both their trust and respoect, which should be no surprise to anyone in the industry who knew Jerry. From a historical perspective, this was one of the most profound of CAPA’s repairer visits as it resulted in substantial changes in the program as well as the selection of a new program validator. Mr. Dalton’s visit over ten years ago clearly established a productive channel of communication between collision repairers and CAPA participants.

1991: Jerry Dalton, again, visited the manufactrers in Taiwan. This time he served as an intermediary in the efforts to fully introduct the key staff of our new validator to the manufacturers. Jerry made it clear to the manufacturers that quality was the key to their success and that adherence to the CAPA standards was key to making their parts acceptable to collision repairers. While Mr. Dalton’s knowledge of the collision repair environment was central to his success in communicating with the manufacturers, the most important element in his effectiveness was the respect he showed for them.

1992: Primarily at the suggestion of Jerry Dalton, CAPA took an unprecedented risk and invited some of the most critical and concerned leaders in the collision repair industry to Taiwan, for the sole purpose of continuing the efforts of Cossette and Dalton. The group included CAA’s Mark Ferrari and a future ASA leader, Jerry Kottschade who both invested a considerable amount of time to make this trip. Our goal was two-fold: to further expose the manufacturers to the needs of collision repairers and to show those most critical of part quality the progress being made by CAPA manufacturers. From the candid reports of all members of the group, both goals were achieved.

1993: The noteworthy Ferrari/Kottshade delegation set the stage for formally re-establishing the channels of communication between all segments of the industry that began when people like Chuck Sulkula started meeting with representatives of the insurance industry and others in 1984, prior to the formation of CAPA. In June 1993, CAPA again brought key collision repairers together with manufacturers in the first Inter-Industry Communucation Forum (IICF). At this Chicago meeting, over 40 representatives of the collision repair, insurance, distributor and estimating industry came together with nine manufacturers in what the nay-sayers predicted would be a disaster but, instead resulted in an incredibly effective communication effort. It was so successful that all parties decided to continue the IICF and since 1993, the group has met 11 times. Collision repair leaders who participated in the first IICF meeting included Bob Anderson, Mark Ferrari, Ed Kizenberger, Nikki McDonald, Clark Plucinski and Joe Sanders. Primarily because of the efforts of many collision repairers, all of whom made sacrifices to attend IICF meetings, the manufacturers continued to develop a better understanding of the shop’s need for quality. Without these early efforts by a significant group of collision repair leaders, the manufacturers would have little understanding of the needs of collision repairers. What is particularly remarkable about these early efforts by collision repairers is that as each meeting improved communication, the market in turn saw continued improvements in quality. This is because these meetings increased manufacturer understanding about the needs of collision repairers.

1994: In addition to bringing key leaders to manufacturing facilities, CAPA exposed the manufacturers to the real world challenges in collision repair shops. Shop owner Nikki McDonald opened her shop to manufacturers attending the IICF in Denver. Later that year, two Las Vegas shops opened their doors to a diverse group of visiting manufacturers.

Myth: CAPA parts rust easily.
Fact: Since CAPA’s incorporation in 1987, over 18 million CAPA certified parts have been sold. There have been only two complaints about corrosion in that time. CAPA parts undergo an industry recognized 1000 hour salt spray test to replicate weather conditions. They must pass the test in order to bear the CAPA Quality Seal. This test has been used by the automotive industry as a predictor of corrosion protection for years.

1995: Jerry Dalton, Jerry Kottschade and Clark Plucinski traveled to Taiwan for meetings with the manufacturers. In addition to working sessions with the manufacturers, these collision repairers visited several factories. They were able to explain how changes in the program were necessary for collision repairers to accept CAPA.

1996: Clark Plucinski asked Bob Anderson of Anderson’s Auto Repair in Sheffield Lake, OH, to participate in a factory tour and a series of information sessions with the manufacturers. Again, their efforts greatly enhanced the manufacturers’ understanding of the needs of collision repairers. In addition, because of Mr. Anderson and Mr. Plucinski’s interest in the process, the manufacturers successfully communicated the progress they were making to meet those needs. At the November IICF Beryl Carlew, Kevin Cook, Jerry Dalton, Al Estorga, Nick Gojmeric, Jerry Kottschade, John Mock, Kelly Roe and David Lee Spinoso met with the three largest part manufacturers. Again, they clearly articulated their quality concerns as well as acknowledged the progress made by the manufacturers.

1997: In Bethesda, Maryland, Clark Plucinski, Rick Paukstitus and many on the staff of True2Form Collision invested thousands of dollars in facility and staff time to meet personally with visiting manufacturers in an all day session with key collision repair leaders. Included in this unique effort was a detailed examination of the shop environment by the manufacturers. Because Mr. Paukstitus and staff took the time to detail key aspects of a quality part, the manufacturers gained a better understanding of part quality in the shop. The seven key manufacturers who participated, expressed appreciation for the efforts of these collision repairers who also included Tim Adelman, Al Estorga, Jim Heger, and Joe Sanders.

CAPA Calls for Collision Repair Members
Want to make a difference and be part of the solution? Well, here’s your chance to make a difference in the quality of competitive parts. Most people don’t realize that CAPA is a membership organization. Members fall into four categories: Consumer groups, collision repairers, part distributors and insurance companies. Each of these groups has representatives on the board. Most importantly, by joining CAPA, you can have a direct influence in the development of quality standards. We have purposely kept the membership fee low for collision repairers in order to encourage participation. If you’d like to join CAPA, be part of our program, have an influence in quality standards and keep abreast of the latest issues facing CAPA, you can send a check for $25 to CAPA. If you have any questions about membership, please give us a call.

1998: Clark Plucinski participated in another effort to continue what his collision repairer colleagues began in 1989. During this visit, Mr. Plucinski continued the tradition of open, effective and repectful communication that continues to lead to better quality parts.

While it is easy to criticize, thankfully, for the consumer and quality competitive parts, there have been many in various segments of the industry who have done much more than criticize — they have taken specific action to improve quality. CAPA appreciates the efforts of the many collision repair representatives listed above. Their efforts have had a profoundly positive effect on part quality. While it is well-known that CAPA receives a great deal of its funding from the insurance industry, it has been the collision repair industry which has had the greatest impact on improving CAPA standards.

1999: The Auto Body Parts Association (ABPA), whose efforts established CAPA, continued the communication efforts by inviting Lou DiLisio, Chuck Sulkala and members of the media to visit manufacturers. This grueling, 20-site visit resulted in a detailed report from Mr. Dilisio on his observations, as well as on the attitude and efforts of the manufacturers. We understand that his visit was extraordinarily well-received by the manufacturers. In his report he both acknowledged the quality improvements made to date by the manufacturers and made recommendations on what could be done to continue to improve quality. Mr. Dilisio, and the many collision repairers who have invested considerable time and effort at successfully opening the channels of communication, shares a large part of the responsibility for the continued improvement in CAPA certified parts.

CAPA: Who We Are … What We Do

There is much misunderstanding about who we are and what we do. In order to clear up the confusion, the following is a brief snapshot of how the CAPA program works

Myth: CAPA Parts are not crash tested like car company parts are.
Fact: Car compant parts are NOT crash tested. There are no federal rules governing aftermarket parts whether made by a car company or a non-car company. CAPA manufacturers build parts with the same physical, mechanical and chemical properties as car company parts. Experienced engineers test CAPA parts to assure their similarity to car company parts in all of these areas.

The Certified Automotive Parts Association is a non-profit organization established in 1987 to develop and oversee a testing and inspection program for certifying the quality of parts used for auto body repairs.

CAPA is not a manufacturing, marketing or sales organization. The program provides consumers, collision repairers, parts distributors and insurance companies with an objective method for evaluating the quality of certified parts and their functional equivalency to similar parts made by car companies. CAPA was founded to promote price and quality competition in the automotive body parts industry and thereby reduce the cost of crash repairs to consumers without sacrificing quality.

CAPA’s 4 Steps to Quality
Factory Approval Regular Reinspection
Part Approval Marketplace Monitoring

Factory Approval:

Before a manufacturer can submit parts for certification is must undergo a detailed review and inspection of its factory and manufacturing process.

An independent testing laboratory determines whether the factory is able to meet CAPA’s Quality Standards which are outlined in a 60-point checklist.

The Validator inspects the manufacturer’s:

Purchasing Tooling
Painting Inspection
Quality Control Operating Processes

After the factory has been approved, individual parts can be submitted for certification.

Part Approval:

The manufacturer may submit individual parts for certification. Test procedures are based on nationally recognized tests such as those of ASTM and SAE:

Samples of each part are tested for:

Material Composition Thickness
Coating Performance Corrosion
Mechanical Properties Form and Fit
Paint Adhesion Appearance
Fasteners/Hardware QC Procedures
Adhesion/Weld Integrity Identifying Markings

Part approval is a 5-step process:

  1. Master Part is Selected
    – 5 Random car company parts measured, or
    – Vehicle test fit used to select master
  2. Checking fixture is certified
  3. Part properties are tested
  4. Part test fit on vehicle
  5. Part certified and seal affixed

Regular Reinspections

After the factory and individual parts have been approved, CAPA continues to re-inspect for compliance with all aspects of the program.

Factories are reinspected for compliance with program standards every six months. 80% of the part lots produced are inspected. Each checking fixture is inspected annually. Random material tests are performed periodically throughout the year. When problems are uncovered, action is taken.

Marketplace Monitoring:

No manufacturer process is perfect, so CAPA regularly checks the market for potential problems through an aggressive complaint program.

Over 80,000 complaint forms are distributed each year. These complaint forms can be completed and submitted on CAPA’s website. In addition, a recall program helps ensure that decertified CAPA parts are removed from the market.

Vehicle Test Fit Program

In response to marketplace demand for continued quality improvements, a year and a half ago CAPA instituted a Vehicle Test Fit (VTF) program. Since March 1999, all parts presented for certification must pass a VTF. This is in addition to the battery of fit, finish, material and performance tests that are already required for each part. These vehicle test fits are performed at Entela, CAPA’s independent validator, in Grand Rapids, MI. They are performed on undamaged vehicles by a collision repair technician and are open to the public. If you would like to observe a VTF, please give us a call.

The VTF program is the type of program enhancement that CAPA makes on a regular basis. If quality problems exist in the market, our goal is to develop solutions.

Some More Good News From CAPA

With all the information (and mis-information) that’s been reported about CAPA it’s easy to lose sight of what, together, the industry has accomplished through the CAPA program. Here’s the good news:

  1. Parts today are far better than in the past.
  2. CAPA’s presence has even forced the car companies to build better parts.
  3. We continue to increase the number of parts in the program.
  4. We’ve reduced our dependence on insurance company funding. (Although current market issues are making that difficult this year.)
  5. We’ve served as the catalyst for inter-industry communication forums since prior to 1993 (well before is was popular to “get the different sides at the table”).

What CAPA is Not!

To try to clear up some of the misconceptions about CAPA — here’s a list of things we’re not!

CAPA is not a brand. It is an independent third-part certification organization that determines whether certain aftermarket repair parts, which are voluntarily submitted to us for testing, meet CAPA standards.

CAPA is not a manufacturer. We don’t make parts or profit from their sale.

CAPA is not a sales organization. We don’t distribute or sell parts.

CAPA does not test or certify mechanical parts. Instead, it concentrates on sheet metal and plastic parts used to repair cars that have been involved in an accident such as hoods, fenders, grills, and bumper covers.

What CAPA is:

CAPA Parts are the only parts on the market certified to be functionally equivalent to the corresponding part that was put on the car at the factory.

CAPA certification is voluntarily. If the part does not have a CAPA seal, the part is not a CAPA-certified part.