Using aftermarket bumpers significantly raised repair costs, according to Ford Motor Company.

Ford Questions Safety of Aftermarket Parts

Low-speed crash tests showed they caused more than twice the repair costs of genuine replacement parts, according to the company.

Ford Motor Company posted a news release Monday questioning the safety of aftermarket parts, saying its low-speed crash tests "show that aftermarket copy structural parts absorb less crash energy than genuine Ford structural parts and can result in unintended airbag deployments." The release said repair estimates "show the use of one common aftermarket bumper beam can more than double the repair costs after even a low-speed accident compared to a genuine Ford replacement bumper beam."

"This should be an eye-opener for all consumers. These tests raise more questions about unintended airbag deployments in the event of a future crash," Paul Massie, Ford powertrain and collision product marketing manager, said in the release. "They also highlight the dangers of being penny-wise and pound-foolish, as less-expensive copy parts could lead to much higher repair costs down the road. All drivers should be aware that copy parts can compromise both the safety performance and the long-term repair costs of your vehicle."

The tests examined OEM and aftermarket copy bumper beams for Ford Mustangs in 2005-09 model years with a 6 mph frontal impact sled test, with corresponding bumper absorbers and bumper isolators added for 5 mph and 8 mph full-vehicle flat barrier crash tests. The 8 mph crash barrier test "demonstrated that the amount of crash energy absorbed by the aftermarket copy bumper beam is less than that of the OEM beam. The data also showed that the frequency of airbag deployments at low speeds will increase with the use of the copy bumper beam, absorber, and isolator because the copy parts do not transmit the crash pulse as effectively to the crash sensors to indicate when an airbag should be deployed," according to the company.

Ford sensor technical specialist David Bauch said, "The pulse to the airbag sensors will change with the aftermarket bumper, affecting the sensor's decision to deploy or not to deploy an airbag."

Damage estimates after the 5 mph crash test showed the repair cost for the vehicle fitted with aftermarket copy parts at $2,982 versus $1,224 using all OEM parts, according to Ford.

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