RICHMOND, Va. -- Normally silver colored, a car suspension sent to Baugh Auto Body to use on a repair job looks very different from the original.
“You have a brand new vehicle here 2014/2015 that has no rust on it, and then you go to put something that has rust on it, that is not the same kind and quality,” Ashley Kruger, head of Marketing and Operations at Baugh, said.
Kruger showed CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit the rusty part alongside the car’s original suspension.
She said an insurance company tried to demand Baugh install it.
“Would you feel comfortable putting this on a car?” Hipolit asked Kruger.
“No, absolutely not,” Kruger said.
In fact, she said insurers send them dingy parts multiple times a week.
“It's a big problem, it's a big problem,” Kruger said.
Baugh refused to install that suspension, along with other rusted, recycled parts, yet Kruger said many mechanics do use them when the insurance company insists.
“It's a cost saving measure,” Kruger said.
Insurance companies use three types of parts for repairs: parts from the original equipment manufacturer, parts that are brand new just not made by the original manufacturer, and so called “like kind and quality” parts that are recycled, but supposed to be equal to the original part.
Kruger said those in the third category often do not meet those standards.
“Bottom line they are saving them money,” Kruger said about insurance companies.
While Baugh calls customers to tell them about the parts going into their cars, Kruger said many times drivers are left in the dark.
“In some cases even the insurance agents are unaware,” Kruger said.
Case in point is Bob Bradshaw Jr. who heads up the association representing independent insurance agents in Virginia.
“I mean, have you ever seen anything like that before?” Hipolit asked Bradshaw.
“No, I've never,” Bradshaw said.
He called the images we showed him shocking.
“This is pretty astounding,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw pointed to Virginia regulations that require insurers use parts at least equal in like kind and quality to the original manufacturer parts.
“Basically this type of part is breaking the law?” Hipolit asked when showing Bradshaw a picture of the rusted parts.
“Yes, I would say beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Bradshaw said.
Kruger said that is putting drivers at risk because they may unknowingly be transporting their loved ones in a car with a defective part.
“You could have suspension fail, you could get in an accident, you could have death, injury, anything that is likely to happen when your vehicle is in a collision or accident,” Kruger said.
Ken Schrad, the Director of the Division of Information Resource at the State Corporation Commission wrote the following in an email about the use of used parts in repairs:
“According to the [Virginia] Bureau [of Insurance], the use of aftermarket parts is widely accepted and utilized in the auto body shop industry, not to mention that these parts typically come with lifetime guarantees. In other words, these parts are utilized on thousands of vehicle repair claims with only a handful of complaints being received by the Bureau in any given year. Given this information, the Bureau does not see any market conduct issues involving the use of aftermarket or used parts that would need to be specifically addressed by the Bureau, at this time.”
The parts and service arm of Fiat Chrysler just announced a new awareness campaign on this very issue.
The point of the campaign is to make customers aware of their right to request original equipment parts instead of generic, lower quality used parts.
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