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Status Report, Vol. 35, No. 2 | SPECIAL ISSUE: COSMETIC REPAIR PARTS | February 19, 2000 Subscribe

Real issue in crash parts debate is cost, not safety

There's no merit to the safety questions that have been raised about cosmetic auto crash parts from aftermarket suppliers. But there's a very big pocketbook issue associated with using repair parts from original-equipment suppliers — they cost a lot more than the aftermarket parts.

The Alliance of American Insurers recently toted up the cost of rebuilding a 1999 Toyota Camry with parts supplied by the car company. The tab came to $101,355.55, compared with the Camry's sticker price of about $23,000. And the cost of the rebuilt car could have been even higher except for markdowns because of competition from aftermarket suppliers. The Alliance's Kirk Hansen, director of claims, points out that "if the aftermarket parts didn't exist, the price of the Camry would be closer to $200,000."

To demonstrate just how the introduction of aftermarket parts influences the price of cosmetic parts supplied by the car companies, the Alliance points to a study involving Toyota Camry parts prices. This automaker priced a fender at $253. In comparison, an aftermarket fender fitting the same car was introduced the next year at $202. As the price of the aftermarket part came down during the following years, Toyota lowered its price to $143.

"Opponents of using aftermarket cosmetic parts would like consumers to believe ominous safety consequences will follow from using anything other than original-equipment parts," Hansen says. "But the truth is that the ominous consequences come from using the original-equipment parts, which hit both car owners and their insurers in the pocketbook."

1992 Toyota Camry fender price comparisons

Original-equipment After-market
1992 $253 none
1993 $264 $202
1994 $265 $209
1995 $259 $168
1996 $143 $60
1997 $143 $63
1998 $143 $77
1999 $146 $56

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