Maintaining Vehicle Safety Systems
If you’ve shopped for a new car in recent years, you’re probably aware that an increasing number of today’s vehicles can be equipped with highly advanced crash-avoidance and safety-system technologies, while more advanced high-strength steels, exotic metals and composite materials are being used than ever before, all in an effort to improve passenger safety.
What might be less obvious is how today’s vehicles are engineered and built as an integrated assembly of parts working together as a single system to provide predictable performance, safety and durability in the event of a crash, and that these vehicles are put through numerous internal automaker and federal government tests to help ensure all these individual parts function as a system when you need them in the real world.
Original Equipment (OE) collision replacement parts are designed and produced to the same specifications and tolerances as the parts on your vehicle when it was made, and they’re the only parts proven during vehicle development to give you the intended level of protection as a whole system. When they’re installed using factory-recommended materials and procedures, they deliver the same structural performance characteristics as the original parts.
New aftermarket collision parts may not be made of the same material or to the same tolerances and specifications as OE collision parts, and are not tested with the rest of the system during vehicle development. Thus, new aftermarket collision parts may not be of the same quality as OE collision parts, and integrating them into the system could change the crash performance engineered into your vehicle.
Concerned that such repairs could change the way these crucial vehicle safety systems perform in the event of a future crash, many automakers have released statements (see below) alerting repairers and collision estimators to their concerns, while Ford Motor Company recently conducted testing (watch the video) that should be an eye-opener for anyone going through the collision repair process.
As you begin that journey, make sure you know what type of parts are going to be used to fix your car or truck—if you’re ever in another crash, the performance of your vehicle may depend on it.