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Groups fine tune grading guide for recycled parts

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) Salvage Subcommittee was formed to work closely with other organizations, such as the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) and the United Recyclers Group (URG), to strengthen the lines of communication and improve the process of using recycled parts. With that in mind efforts are being made to fine tune a grading system for recycled components.The ARA started its Parts Grading Guide so that all individuals involved in the repair process would have a consistent and uniformed guide for grading recycled parts. With different Internet search sites becoming popular and so many of those sites using different grading systems, ASA felt it was in the collision industry’s best interest to be a part of the Guide and endorse one easy-to-use, uniform standard.

“The ARA Parts Guide is a tremendous tool for the estimator, the insurer, the counterman at the yard and the parts manager in the shop to be on the same page for describing recycled parts,” says ASA Crash Parts Subcommittee Chairman Ron Nagy.

Recently, the ASA Salvage Subcommittee decided to broaden its scope and is now called the ASA Crash Parts Subcommittee, which is composed of ASA collision members interested in crash parts issues, be they recycled, aftermarket or OEM surplus.

In the past, the Crash Parts Subcommittee worked behind the scenes to improve the industry. For example, under committee Chair Harry Moppert, they were able to work with CCC to add the drop-down menus for LKQ parts.

“Through the use of the Guide, the collision repair industry has the ability to uniformly know the condition of the part being priced and know upfront of any damage or cleanup time needed,” says Nagy, of Nagy’s Collision Center, Doylestown, Ohio.

The ARA Parts Grading and Description Guidelines are intended to improve communication between automotive recyclers and their collision repairer, mechanical repairer and insurer customers. Many customers cannot decipher the codes used to describe the conditions and options of a recycled part. As a result, the part sale goes to another vendor or the recycled part is returned because it did not meet the customer’s expectations.

This document brings standardized part descriptions and terminology to the parts inventory process. It identifies common parts and terms used to describe part conditions and part options. By standardizing part descriptions, the recycling industry can more easily set customers expectations and increase sales of recycled parts to companies in the repair process.

According to ARA Electronics Committee and E-Commerce Committee Chair David Gold, who’s also the owner of Standard Auto Wreckers in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, the Electronics Committee is responsible for establishing the ARA Parts Grading System and Damage Codes, and the E-Commerce Committee is consistently analyzing additional ways of standardizing the parts grading process.

Gold says recycled OEM parts currently occupy 10 percent of the marketplace. The issue of clarity when it comes to the exact condition of the part, while important for a customer coming into a facility to pick up a part, is absolutely crucial for someone buying a part online to know exactly what they are putting their money down on.

“Because we are dealing with a used product, we do need to be very diligent in how we grade our parts, because they aren’t going to be perfect. But if we describe them effectively that’s pretty much all we can ask for.” says Gold. “Kind of like the eBay philosophy, you’ve got to highlight all the negatives so that there are no surprises on delivery and that’s kind of our whole mantra with parts grading.”

The ARA has developed its own language, which is accessible to everyone, including insurers, collision repairers, auto mechanics and the general public. For example, an “A” grade body part has one credit card sized unit of damage or less, a “B” grade part has two units of damage or less, while a “C” grade part has more than two units of damage and an “X” grade part does not contain enough data for the information provider to grade the part.The ARA parts grading system is not limited to body parts either: an “A” grade mechanical part has 60,000 total miles on it, or if over 60,000 miles it can not exceed 15,000 miles per model year of age. A “B” grade mechanical part has between 60,000-200,000 total miles on it and has exceeded 15,000 miles per model year of age, while a “C” grade mechanical part is any part that has more than 200,001 total miles on it, no matter the age.

“The industry is trying to put some teeth behind it to really ensure auto recyclers use it,” says Gold. “There are insurance companies out there who will not want to see recycled parts if they are not graded.”

Complete details on the parts grading system can be found at the ARA Web site,

The main thing the ASA subcommittee is after is a uniform grading system, so that no matter where you called and no matter who does the calling (repairer, insurer, counterman or parts manager), the grading system is the same. In a business where time is limited and clear communication among the various parties is essential, having one parts grading guide is key to success, according to Nagy.

The subcommittee approved the ARA system just before the end of 2006, and will be endorsing it through different means over the next few months.

“As the ARA Parts Grading Guide is adopted by recyclers, repairers and insurers, it will give everyone a common language for describing recycled parts and lessen the current chaos involved with describing the condition of recycled parts,” says Nagy.

By: Troy Sympson, Automotive Body Repair News