The basic idea of a car is pretty simple -- turn wheels […]
The basic idea of a car is pretty simple -- turn wheels to pull you down the road. But, as illustrated by the hundreds of individual parts for sale at your local Pep Boys, Autozone or Napa Auto Parts, it actually takes a lot of machinery to make cars work.If you're trying to figure out what all the parts in your car do, HowStuffWorks AutoStuff is the place for you. Here's a collection of our key car part articles.For over 25 years, CAPA has set the standard for truly, high quality replacement parts. Recognized worldwide for both the rigor of its fully transparent standards and for the dramatic improvements it has brought about in the quality of parts meeting its requirements, CAPA has now developed a legitimate means for manufacturers to demonstrate the functional equivalency of their radiators to car company brand parts. Here’s what we did and why we did it.During the past year, Certified Auto Parts Association (CAPA) parts have excelled in Collision Industry Conference (CIC) testing. The results of the most recent CIC test were less positive. Two CAPA parts, which were certified in 1996, do not meet today’s strict certification standards.“While these results are disappointing, they prove an extremely important point,” said CAPA President Butch Viccellio. “Parts that have successfully passed CAPA’s new vehicle test fit produce better results.”In March of 1999, CAPA added an extensive vehicle test fit component to its certification process, which measures how well parts fit on the car. This test is conducted only after parts pass rigorous material, construction, corrosion and appearance tests.At CAPA, we’re often asked to describe how certified parts compare to car company parts.
The term we use is “functionally equivalent.” We chose this term because we think it best describes how CAPA certified parts relate to the car company parts they replace. Simply put, CAPA certified parts should perform the same as car company brand parts in every significant aspect. This includes fit, finish, strength, material content, corrosion protection and more. We believe that the difference between a CAPA certified part and a car company brand part should be invisible to both the repairer and consumer.While competitive crash parts and CAPA have been the focus of many articles in the trade press, there’s lots of news about CAPA that hasn’t been reported. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of people, representing many industry segments, who’ve made the decision to focus on quality, there’s lots of good news about CAPA. Here are some of the things that have had a very positive impact on the marketplace and consumers. If you’ve been part of the vast and varied team that has been working to help ensure quality competition, these are some of the fruits of your labor.So there’s lots of good news in the crash parts marketplace. At CAPA, our goal is to use our solid foundation to continue to build the best program possible. We look forward to the support of the entire industry in accomplishing this objective.One of the easiest things that anyone can do is sit back and criticize.
Thankfully for consumers and quality competitive parts, there have been many in various segments of the industry who have done much more than criticize—they’ve taken specific action to improve quality.Sometimes it’s a small effort, other times it’s a big effort. The point is, it’s simply much harder to make a positive contribution to the solution of a problem than it is to sit back and criticize. CAPA is where it is today because thousands of individuals and companies have taken small and large steps to ensure a high quality, competitive marketplace.This all too familiar refrain heard by millions of parents, is a question that CAPA regularly asks itself. The answer—no, we’re not. In fact, it is our belief that no manufacturer or manufacturing process is perfect and the road to quality is a journey, not a destination. In other words, to even say, “we’re there,” means we’re really not doing our jobs.Are we where we want to be? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that we have an excellent set of standards that, if fully complied with by voluntary participants, will go a long way to ensuring a high quality competitive part.
No, in that there are improvements that manufacturers can make in complying with the standards and there are improvements we can make in administering the program.To help us on our journey CAPA places a high priority on outside advice. Six years ago CAPA shocked many in the industry by convening, for the first time, the key players in the formula for success. In Chicago, 1993, we put nearly 100 repairers, insurers, distributors and manufacturers in the same room, broke up into small groups and started a series of discussions that continue to this day. What was particularly rewarding was that we started to break down communication barriers that had existed for years and were the source of tremendous adversity.Our groundbreaking Inter-Industry Communications Forum has now met over 10 times during the past 6 years. At each meeting two things always happen: channels of communication are opened between parties and CAPA learns something from the participants that helps us to improve our efforts.