Cosmetic crash parts are irrelevant to auto safety, testing finds
In frontal offset test crashes, such as this one shown, the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the source of body panels–aftermarket or OE–was not a significant safety factor. In fact, the Toyota Camry that the institute tested performed just as well without front-end body panels as a fully intact car crashed earlier.
Testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the U.S. has shown that the source of a car’s cosmetic crash parts is irrelevant to crashworthiness.
In the aftermath of the State Farm rulings regarding the use of aftermarket body panels versus original equipment body panels, claims have been made that driver and passenger safety is an issue.
“These claims are red herrings to try to frighten people,” says institute president Brian O’Neill. “With the possible exception of hoods, there are no safety implications of using cosmetic crash parts from any source.”
To demonstrate, the institute conducted test crashes of a Toyota Camry from which the front-end body panels were removed. The OE hood was replaced with a certified hood from an aftermarket supplier. The test results then were compared with results from an earlier test of a 1997 Camry with its OE parts intact. Both Camrys performed with distinction in 40-mph frontal offset impacts. Both earned good crashworthiness ratings according to the institute’s evaluation procedures.
During each crash test, researchers recorded the effects on the driver dummy to assess the likelihood that people experiencing the same forces in on-the-road crashes would be injured. The effects were similar for the Camry models with and without cosmetic parts and well within normal test-to-test variability. Measured intrusion into the occupant compartment was similar. Control of the crash test dummies and measured steering column movement also were about the same. Both the original-equipment and aftermarket hoods performed well, buckling as they’re designed to do. Neither one was pushed back anywhere near the windshield, so front-seat occupants in real crashes similar to these tests wouldn’t be endangered.
“There essentially was no difference in crashworthiness performance. Both Camrys were rated ‘Good.’ The cosmetic parts didn’t influence the results,” O’Neill says.
UAP acquires Spies Hecker stores
UAP has expanded its network of CMAX paint and bodyshop supply stores through the acquisition of all of the Spies Hecker Canada outlets.
“This acquisition and the appointment of CMAX, by DuPont Performance Coatings, as the exclusive Canadian distributor of its Spies Hecker brand of automotive finishes is a sign of our continued commitment to the paint and bodyshop industry. This transaction now brings our CMAX store network to 14 locations across Canada,” said Carman Bennett, executive vice-president, auto parts division.
ART jobber stores earn ISO certification
Automotive Refinish Technologies (ART) has announced that seven more of its facilities have achieved ISO 9002 quality certification, including stores in Mississauga, Ont., and Winnipeg, Man.
To be certified, each store had to pass an independent audit based on a series of requirements dealing with quality processes. The ISO standards evaluate whether a facility has a proper quality system in place and can document its use. The certification is renewable every three years and is enforced by scheduled surveillance audits, which occur every six months.
President John Montes says that ART will continue to add locations across Canada and the U.S. to its list of ISO 9002 certified facilities.
Carstar signs ADP to provide imaging and estimating services
ADP Collision Repair Services, provider of information services, has signed an agreement to become the primary provider of estimating and imaging services for all collision repair facilities owned, operated and licensed by Carstar Automotive Canada.
Headquartered in Hamilton, Ont., Carstar is a major collision repair consolidator, owning, operating and licensing a network of 74 collision repair facilities throughout the country. Under the terms of the agreement, ADP will provide its Shoplink for Windows and Photolink products to all Carstar centers.
ICBC removes restrictive provision
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has withdrawn the “Most Favored Customer” clause from agreements it has with autobody shops that participate in its Alternative Transportation Program in a bid to remove concerns by the Competition Bureau that it constitutes an abuse of the “dominant position” provision of the Competition Act.
Under the program, which began in 1997, participating repair shops agreed to provide courtesy cars to ICBC’s customers in return for specified payments. The “Most Favored Customer” clause in the agreement required the repair shop to charge ICBC no more than the shop charged other insurance companies.
Information obtained from a number of insurance companies and published sources showed that in this case the “Most Favored Customer” clause discouraged selective discounting by repair shops. Based on this effect, the Competition Bureau was concerned that the clause substantially lessened competition in markets for insured autobody repair services. In addition, by raising the costs of ICBC’s rivals the clause likely lessened competition in the optional auto insurance market in B.C.
With the change in ICBC’s agreements, the bureau has concluded its examination.
Powder Clearcoat Making Inroads With Automakers
While there are always barriers to adapting OEM refinish products to the aftermarket repair industry, it is still worthy of note that powder clearcoat technology is currently in use.
PPG’s Enviracryl clearcoat was recently used on its 300,000th car, after an extensive pilot program with BMW in Germany. The coating is currently used on BMW 5-series and 7-series cars at a plant in Germany, and discussions are underway to bring the technology into use in North America. PPG says that the coating virtually eliminates environmental emissions, waste and potential blemishes associated with liquid coatings.
With solvent-based liquid clear coats, air circulated through the paint booth cannot be recycled back into the booth and requires an emission control system. Powder coatings require much less booth ventilation and permit up to 90% of the air volume to be recirculated. Because the powder application process is cleaner, booth maintenance is minimal and use of aggressive cleaning compounds is unnecessary.
Powder clearcoat is spray-applied electrostatically to electrically grounded car bodies. The powder particles remain in an excited state within the electrical field, contributing to a consistent coating thickness free of drips, runs or sags that can occur with liquids, so rejection rates for finish quality are low, says PPG. A combination of infrared and convection ovens then melt the powder particles adhering to the car body, fusing them.
PPG has been honored with a number of industry awards for the technology.