If you are like most auto owners, you assume parts made by your vehicle manufacturer will be used to repair collision damage to your vehicle. Not necessarily so. "Imitation" or "aftermarket" parts made overseas and parts salvaged from other vehicles often are used in repairs.
Recommendation: You have the right to choose the type of parts used to repair collision damage to your vehicle. Before repairs begin, make sure you know what parts have been specified and then make sure your insurer and repairer know which type of parts you want to be used.
Airbags have surpassed stereo equipment as the most frequent target of auto thieves, which has created a black market tapped by unscrupulous repairers, according to law enforcement authorities. Carfax.com, the Internet vehicle inspection firm, estimates that one in every 25 repairs requiring airbag replacement ends up with installation of a bogus airbag or no airbag at all.
Recommendations: Check Repair Invoice-After the collision repair, ask your repairer for a copy of the parts invoice to make sure replacement airbags were purchased from an authorized dealer. In the case of Ford, its dealers are the exclusive distributors of genuine replacement airbags and the company recommends that repairs be made only with these parts.
Airbag Cover-Fake airbag covers are used to hide the fact that a new airbag has not been installed. Telltale signs: Bogus covers rarely have the vehicle's logo on them; the color of fake covers may vary, even if the cover fits well; the color of a genuine cover will match exactly.
When in Doubt, Go to Your Dealer-If you have any doubts at all, have your vehicle checked by an authorized dealer. Undeployed airbags are extremely dangerous -do not attempt to troubleshoot if you suspect problems.
Wheels are crucial safety items that often are damaged in collisions. A large industry has emerged that takes many of these damaged wheels and "remanufactures" them for reuse.
During the unregulated remanufacturing process, steel or aluminum is removed from the wheel. Removal of base material, as well as certain other remanufacturing techniques, can alter performance and durability and raises safety concerns, according to Ford.
Recommendations: You have the right to choose the type of replacement wheels used to repair collision damage to your vehicle. Check with your insurer and repairer to make sure you know the type of replacement wheels being used.
If you select remanufactured wheels, make sure to obtain a written warranty for the wheels from the remanufacturer and make sure the remanufacturer's identity and the date the wheels were remanufactured are permanently marked on the wheels.
Front & Rear "Clips"
If your vehicle has suffered major front- or rear-end damage, a front or rear "clip" may be used for repairs. This practice involves replacing the entire section of the damaged vehicle with a similar section from a "donor" vehicle- usually one that has been declared a total loss.
In some places, your vehicle must be re-titled as a "rebuilt" or "salvage" vehicle if the clip procedure is used. This designation will substantially reduce your vehicle's resale value.
Recommendations: It is very likely the use of a "clip" will void your vehicle manufacturer's warranty for both the vehicle, the parts replaced and any damage to the original vehicle caused by the "clip." If you agree with the use of a "clip" to repair your vehicle, make sure to obtain a written warranty from your insurer, repairer and the supplier of the "clip."