Aftermarket Parts & Safety

Consumer reports recently released a report that using aftermarket parts, especially cheap China imports, may cause bodily harm. They were very specific about bumpers and the way they are manufactured may cause delayed or premature air bag deployment. The bumper beam or the piece of steel behind the cover is manufactured from ultra high strength steel whereas the aftermarket is made up of two pieces of mild steel spot welded together. This will make a difference in air bag deployment timing. Ford radiator supports are manufactured of magnesium. The non-Ford copy was made of molded plastic with a sheet-metal rib pop-riveted to it. This part raised red flags with Ford engineers because one of the vehicle’s air bag sensors is mounted to the hood latch support bracket which is mounted to the radiator support. The vibrations from these weaker parts could cause air bag deployment at any time. They also compared bumper isolators and brackets with the same result. No real crash tests were done but computer simulations showed a major difference in performance but without real crash tests no air bag deployment data could be obtained. The test results while only limited to two components demonstrate that where safety is involved only original parts should be installed.