A lot of people get the meaning of CAPA certified wrong. It’s often confused with used parts, but the reality is much more impressive. The Certified Automotive Parts Association is a non-profit organization. They dedicate their time to testing and certifying replacement auto parts of all kinds. And since they’re totally independent, there’s no corporate bias to go along.
Not used, just certified automotive parts
Maybe it’s because of the term “certified pre-owned vehicle” that many people think a certified auto part is used. But the reality is that new replacement parts are difficult to vet, and CAPA has taken it upon themselves to prove which aftermarket parts are genuine and which aren’t worth a dime. From my vantage point, that seems pretty noble.
What parts can be CAPA certified?
CAPA performs testing on automotive parts of the following kind:
- Electronics: According to CAPA, they require “Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing on parts that contain active electronic devices, such as HID or LED components, and parts with motors.” Yes, this means headlights, too.
- Metals: From bezels to wheelhouses, CAPA certified metal parts are tested for adhesive integrity, quality control, coating performance, proper dimensions and more.
- Plastic: From fascias to grilles, CAPA certified plastic parts are tested for appearance, coating performance, fasteners, hardware and more.
- Nonwoven Fabrics: For hood liners and fender liners, CAPA certified nonwoven fabric parts are tested for thickness, moisture absorption, chemical resistance, construction and more.
- Lighting: For high-mounted brake lights, headlamps, taillamps and sidemarkers, CAPA certified lighting parts are tested for effective projected luminous lens area, proper level of illumination, photometry, projected durability and more.
- Attachments: From lighting brackets to hood hinge brackets, CAPA certified attachment parts are tested for dimensional inspection, arc weld, fasters, hardware and more.
- Bumpers: From bumpers to energy absorbers, CAPA certified bumper parts are tested for correct positioning, strength of welds, primer, hitches and more.
- Radiators: For metal parts that may have plastic tanks fastened to the radiator core, CAPA certified radiator parts are tested for dimensions, composition, corrosion resistance, heat exchange and more.
- AC Condensers: For heat exchangers mounted in front of the radiator, CAPA certified AC condensers are tested for vibration, fit, leak resistance, dimensions and more.
- Mirrors: For mirror assemblies, CAPA certified mirror parts are tested for appearance, construction, retaining features, vehicle fit and more.
- Cameras: For exterior rearview cameras, CAPA certified cameras are tested for image quality, ingress protection, electromagnetic compatibility, vehicle fit and more.
- Sensors: For ultrasonic park distance control sensors, CAPA certified sensors are tested for function, climate, fit, electromagnetic compatibility and more.
- Glass: For windshields, CAPA certified glass is tested for compliance, dimensional requirements, glazing features, appearance requirements and more.
The CAPA quality seal
Not just any replacement part can be certified. The CAPA standards are real. The certification process has three steps, including:
- Approval of the manufacturer facility
- Approval of the part and vehicle fit
- Regular, random inspections to help maintain part quality
CAPA themselves don’t provide any warranties, but you should opt for a distributor that offers one to better protect you.
The CAPA quality seal helps to protect against fraud in the automotive aftermarket parts industry. You can find the quality seal for particular parts in these locations:
CAPA specifies buyers who are ordering parts should specify they want the parts to be CAPA certified. This allows buyers to be able to return parts to the distributor easily if they don’t end up having the quality seal.
Use their database to find what you’re looking for
For your reference, here’s a list of participating manufacturers, straight from CAPA themselves. Head to their database to find parts that are certified and decertified. You can also search for the CAPA seal number here. If you’re heavily into the aftermarket world, consider staying up to date on public notices and product safety alerts, which you can find here.