an iga viewpoint
The Aftermarket Issue
by Alan Epley
Recently, Ford Motor Company raised the issue of replacing automobile
structural crash parts with original equipment manufactured (OEM) parts
versus aftermarket parts and consumer safety. Ford’s testing results disclosed
that there are significant differences in the raw materials that compose
the OEM and aftermarket parts. The difference was so extreme that Ford
engineer Roger Chen rated the material comparison as being “like tofu
versus a rock.” The results also indicated that, in addition to raw material
differences, the testing showed that manufacturing processes used in making
aftermarket parts were inferior when compared to those used in making
Over the course of the last several months, the Independent Glass Association
(IGA) has been voicing concerns over the quality of windshields in the
same regard. Members have reported incidents whereby the rearview mirror
has been detaching from the windshield and taking shards of glass with
it. Other comments received by the association from its members have included
clarity issues and the fact that windshields are not being cut to the
exact opening of the vehicle.
Questions must be raised. Do aftermarket windshields afford the same amount
of protection to vehicle occupants in the event of a rollover accident
or in the deployment of the passenger side airbag? Is the fact that a
shop installs a windshield in accordance with the Auto Glass Replacement
Safety Standard (AGRSS) enough to offset any safety factors that may be
compromised due to the installation of inferior glass? While we debate
these issues, we must consider that officials at Ford Motor Co. raised
concerns about comparison of the structural parts of an automobile. Isn’t
the windshield a structural part of a vehicle?
“The association is
planning to establish a tracking system to facilitate the tracking of
inferior glass in the marketplace.”
Since the windshield is a structural part of an automobile and an integral
part of a vehicle’s safety system, the Independent Glass Association (IGA)
is taking the initiative to include windshields in the discussion and
is making every effort to have them included in the testing process. The
association is planning to establish a tracking system to facilitate the
tracking of inferior glass in the marketplace. Once established, shops
will have the ability to report defective glass to the IGA, which will,
in turn, monitor glass for defect patterns. In addition, the IGA is discussing
the inclusion of automobile replacement glass into the testing procedures
by the big three automobile manufacturers. Thus far, I am happy to report
that those discussions are progressing and there is receptivity from manufacturers
to do so.
On a related matter, Consumer Reports magazine recently reported that
consumers must insist on OEM replacement parts in the event that their
vehicle has been damaged in a crash. The article points out that insurance
companies pressure automotive repair shops to use aftermarket replacement
parts in an effort to contain the cost of a claim, but may compromise
consumer safety in the process. And naturally, the aftermarket parts manufacturers
argue that the cited Ford testing was flawed.
The Time is Now
The IGA believes that the time to make the determination as to the relevance
of this debate is now. Are aftermarket parts every bit as good as OEM
parts? Every insurance company, governmental authority, parts manufacturer
and repair shop has the responsibility to protect the consumer by making
certain that every motor vehicle, whether damaged in an accident or in
need of a replacement windshield, is restored to its pre-loss condition.
The IGA believes that the debate initiated by the testing of OEM and aftermarket
parts conducted by Ford Motor Co. must be expanded to include automobile
glass and undertaken by more manufacturers, including General Motors and
Chrysler. And the burden to contradict those results with factual proof
remains the responsibility of the aftermarket parts and glass manufacturers.
A windshield that will not support the roof in the event of a rollover
or the airbag in the event that it is deployed is unacceptable at any
Alan Epley is president of the Independent Glass Association (IGA).
He also serves as president of Southern Glass and Plastic in Columbia,
S.C. Mr. Epley’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those
of this magazine.
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