Vehicle Test Fit Makes a Difference

After outperforming car company parts in several Collision Industry Conference (CIC) tests, CAPA-certified parts had mixed results at the most recent test in Minneapolis. A CAPA-certified hood outperformed the Ford service part, and a fender made by Ford was rated better than a CAPA-certified replacement part. Both CAPA certified parts were manufactured by Gordon.

Why the differences in performance? “This test illustrates two important points,” said CAPA board president, Butch Viccellio. “CAPA has learned through its detailed parts testing process that some car company parts lack consistency in fit, finish and acceptability. It also further proves that CAPA’s new vehicle test fit (VTF) requirement produces parts with a superior fit.”

CAPA added the VTF program to its list of certification requirements in 1999. Since that time, all parts submitted for certification must pass a VTF before becoming certified. The CAPA certified hood that performed well in the CIC test was certified after passing a VTF. CAPA certified the fender before implementing the VTF, and it did not fit as well.

Due to the success of the VTF, CAPA recently retested the fit of 75 of its most frequently used parts that it certified before implementing the VTF program. “This is just another step toward ensuring the quality and consistency of CAPA-certified parts,” said Viccellio.

“CAPA plans to continue retesting parts it certified prior to the VTF requirement. In fact, 500 parts are scheduled for testing in 2001, and the fender that didn’t fare well in the recent CIC test is among them,” said Jack Gillis, Executive Director. “Although an expensive aspect of the program, the VTF is improving CAPA’s value to collision repairers.”

CIC Test Results

CIC Test Results
Comparison of CAPA Certified
with non-certified Ford Parts
Fit Finish Overall Acceptability
CAPA Certified Hood 3.46 3.48 83.3%
Ford Service Hood 2.26 3.24 16.0%
CAPA Certified Fender 2.09 3.17 16.7%
Ford Service Fender 3.04 3.27 60.2%
CAPA Certified Parts (Minn. Avg.) 2.78 3.33 50%
Ford Service Parts (Minn. Avg.) 2.65 3.26 38.1%

CIC Testing Procedure

In the blind test, participants judged two car company parts and two CAPA-certified aftermarket parts on fit, finish and overall acceptability. Other non-CAPA aftermarket parts were also compared to their car company counterparts.

The test’s sequence was carefully orchestrated. Before changing parts on the test vehicle, the fit of the manufacturer’s assembly line parts were rated. Original parts were then replaced with either car company service parts or aftermarket replacement parts. The parts were rated for fit, finish and overall acceptability by evaluators who were unaware of the source of the parts they were rating. The fit and finish were rated 1 to 5, with 5 being best.

CAPA’s VTF Program

“CAPA’s vehicle test fit program is one of many factors that place CAPA-certified parts above other aftermarket parts in the industry. It has been a definite factor in our ongoing success in the blind test fits conducted by CIC and others. These required vehicle test fits bring our quality and consistency to a level that is exclusive to the CAPA organization,” said Viccellio.

Here’s how CAPA’s vehicle test fit works. Once the part passes CAPA’s extensive material and appearance requirements, the manufacturer selects three parts from the first production run and ships them to CAPA. CAPA then purchases 2 car company service parts and uses an undamaged vehicle with verified upper and lower body measurements to compare the parts. The original equipment specifications are the basis for approving the aftermarket part for certification. The process includes a complete comparison of the gap, flush, holes, bracketry, ease of installation and other factors.

For details on recent CIC parts tests, see the CIC Web site: For more information on the Certified Automotive Parts Association,

Contact: Jack Gillis
(202) 737-2212

The Certified Automotive Parts Association is the nation’s only independent, non-profit, third party crash parts quality certification organization.