ARA Response Letter to WTAE (Pittsburgh) Regarding Recent Broadcast Segment Entitled "Body Shops Say Insurance Companies Force Them To Use Recycled Parts"


March 12, 2015
Mr. Paul Van Osdol 
400 Ardmore Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15221
Via Email:
Dear Paul:
The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) represents over 4,500 professional automotive recyclers across the United States and in 14 countries internationally.  It is on their behalf that I express disappointment at the flawed reporting and gross mischaracterizations contained in a March 4, 2015 broadcast regarding the utilization of genuine, recycled original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.  
ARA believes collision repairers should use their professional training and judgment to make repair decisions based on the individual circumstances surrounding the damaged vehicles, and that all stakeholders involved in the collision repair marketplace should recognize the genuine value, safety and benefits that each repair part option (recycled, new, aftermarket, remanufactured, reconditioned) may provide in a given repair.  Your segment repeatedly mixed references, using the terms aftermarket, recycled, remanufactured, and reconditioned interchangeably without informing viewers about important part distinctions. This irresponsible reporting only serves to further confuse the public about the viability of important repair options.
It would be interesting to know if your investigative team reached out to any stakeholder experts in the professional automotive parts industry, specifically the ARA or its affiliated organization in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Automotive Trade Society (PARTS) at any point during production of this broadcast? If so, you should have learned that there are many industries involved in the automotive parts supply chain and that it does all stakeholders, including Pennsylvania consumers, a  disservice to advocate for only one option in this expansive market sector.  You would have also learned that:
  • The utilization of quality, OEM automotive parts is a $32 billion dollar industry in the United States; 
  • Each day over 500,000 recycled OEM parts that were designed and built to meet the automakers original requirements for fit, finish, durability and safety are sold to consumers who are very well aware that recycled OEM parts are being used in the repair of their vehicle; 
  • Professional automotive recycling operations have robust product assurance and quality control procedures in place, high standards and operational safeguards;  
  • Most insurance policies include specific language pertaining to the use of recycled parts in vehicle repairs and educated consumers know that recycled OEM parts offer quality, safe parts at a fraction of the cost of new OEM parts; and  
  • Automakers recognize the market demand for the reutilization of their original parts and the brand loyalty it builds.
In your segment, you stated that "He [the consumer] does not want "used" or aftermarket parts in any vehicle carrying his family.”  If you had been more thoroughly briefed, you might have been able to help the consumer understand that "used" are better defined as recycled OEM parts.  Also, you might have been able to help educate the consumer that when their vehicle was brought to the repair facility, every one of the approximately 30,000 parts on their vehicle was already "used".
Furthermore, parts sold by professional automotive recycling facilities are recycled genuine original OEM parts that meet OEM requirements. They are OEM parts, designed by the OEM, and built to meet the OEM requirements for fit, finish, durability, reliability and safety.  Legal precedent underscores the importance of these distinctions and was also missed in your reporting -- an historic ruling by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals which affirmed the use of salvage/recycled OEM crash parts in vehicle repairs and found that recycled parts are diametrically different from aftermarket parts.  That same West Virginia court ruling applauded insurance companies for utilizing recycled OEM parts.
In you news report, you also choose to only highlight the economic interests of the insurance companies in repair choices. Viewers need to be aware of the economic benefits the body shops realize by steering consumers to utilize brand new OEM parts instead of using quality, recycled OEM parts - parts that provide the identical or improved repair service to new OEM parts. To tell the whole story, you should have revealed that repair procedures that advance only the highest priced parts option ensure more vehicles owned by consumers will ultimately be declared total losses by insurance companies, resulting in an incented business practice for some industry stakeholders.
The awareness by consumers and the repair parts market of the different types of parts available for vehicle repairs is critical to a free marketplace and the safety of drivers. ARA calls upon the news outlets to ensure that their reporting on these complicated issues in the future is accurate and well - sourced, using associations like the ARA to provide facts to help build an unbiased and balanced story.
Given the blatant factual errors stated in this segment and the many angles of the story left unexposed, ARA requests that WTAE retract much of this broadcast and after consultation with ARA and PARTS air a new segment educating viewers about the automotive parts supply chain, the many different ways in which professional automotive recyclers meet market demand for quality OEM recycled parts, and how these parts are different than those parts your program sought to describe.  
I can be reached at 571-208-0428 and look forward to talking with you about next steps to correct the record on the critical issue of the reutilization of recycled OEM automotive parts.  

Michael E. Wilson


9113 Church Street    Manassas, VA 20110-5456
300 New Jersey Avenue, NW - Suite 945 ●    Washington, DC 20001-2271
Telephone (571) 208-0428   Fax (571) 208-0430


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