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8 February 2017

LAB TESTING REVEALS RISK OF HIGH SPEED HOOD FLY-UP

Motorists around the country are being exposed to serious crash risks after laboratory testing on non-genuine parts by GM-Holden engineers has revealed flaws and sub-standard materials used in a critical safety design feature on imported hoods.

The non-genuine part has failed under testing, which would result in the hood of the car suddenly flying up and slamming against the windscreen, leading to a loss of driver vision and control. The ramifications of such a shocking incident at high speed are of grave concern to the industry.

The non-genuine hood striker wire, responsible for keeping the hood assembly safely latched during vehicle operation, failed GM-Holden’s critical testing criteria.

An in-service failure poses a serious risk of hood fly-up at high speed, smashing into the cabin through the windscreen glass and totally obscuring driver visibility.

The part tested by GM-Holden was sourced from a self-certifying parts manufacturing and importing operation contracted to major Australian insurers, and which distributes to collision repairers.

GM-Holden Engineering Group Manager Rowan Lal headed the test project, which was undertaken on VF Commodore hoods (bonnets).

“The non-genuine hoods tested are demonstrably inferior. Dangerous defects in the striker wire are present due to poor manufacturing processes and a hazardous lack of research and development on the materials used,” Mr Lal said.

“The non-genuine striker wire failed our pull strength testing, with the wire’s hardness falling dangerously below our design specifications.

“The hood slam testing we conducted, using our factory-specified cycles, indicated excessive wear and a sawing effect on the striker wire.

“Normal road driving would rapidly exacerbate this wear rate. A significant potential exists for striker wire wear-through, striker wire separation from the hood assembly and a serious potential for the hood to fly open while driving.”

Genuine Is Best ambassador Mark Skaife has condemned the use of these inferior quality parts and the safety risk they present.

“I have seen a hood suddenly fly up at high speed during a motor race,” Skaife said.

“An incident out on the road, with oncoming traffic or in a high-speed situation, would be absolutely terrifying.

“For the consumer and perhaps even the unwary crash repairer, what’s deceitful about these non-genuine parts is that they are designed to fit and look like the genuine thing. It’s only when they are subjected to testing that it is shown they cannot perform or protect to the same level as a genuine part. And in this case, they are outright dangerous.”

FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said consumers need to be aware that non-genuine parts are regularly used in vehicle repairs without customers being aware, and only by insisting on genuine can the consumer be reassured that they are getting a part which is fit for purpose, tested in situ with the vehicle for which it is designed, and backed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer.

“This component test, together with the previous tests we have conducted and the seizures internationally of huge volumes of counterfeit, fake and non-genuine parts reveal the extent of the problem,” Mr Weber said.

“For instance, who knows how many thousands of these non-genuine bonnets, with their inferior quality materials and manufacturing processes, have been used already in repaired cars now driving on our roads?

“That’s both a deception and an unacceptable risk, and consumers deserve to know about it.
“We urge consumers to ask their car insurer up front: Do you use genuine parts in repairs? And if not, why not?”

The lab test findings by GM-Holden follows on from pedestrian head impact testing on the same hoods undertaken by Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) last year.

In addition to the poor fit and finish found in the non-genuine hoods, the results of the CASR test indicated that the non-genuine parts increased the chance of a traumatic brain injury in the event of a pedestrian impact. Further information about those test results can be found here.

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