Standards programmes established for the accurate description of the condition of used vehicle parts



Giving customers confidence in the parts they are buying, and the business selling them, is essential in increasing the acceptability & use of ‘green parts’.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that the parts are free from damage or that damaged parts shouldn’t be sold.  It just ensures that the parts are accurately described, so the buyer understands exactly what they are purchasing, before they purchase  It’s all about managing expectations.

The MVDA endorses the parts standards developed by the Automotive Recyclers Association of America (ARA) which has helped to make the use of ‘recycled parts’ widespread in the insurance repair industry in the USA.


The ARA Damage Locator is designed to help accurately describe the condition of body panels and wheels, with a simple 3-digit code, which describes the location, type & extent of damage.

Each body panel or wheel is split into numbered zones, and each type & size of damage is also given its own code.

1. Using the chart below, pick the code that corresponds to the area of damage.  So if you have a door with damage in the centre area of the panel then the first character of your code is ‘5’.

2. Select from the list the type of damage.  So, for example, if the door has a small ‘parking lot ding’, then P is your second character of your code.

3. Decide the extent of the damage. This is measured in ‘units’ where each unit is defined as damage not exceeding the surface area of a standard sized credit card.  So if the damage is less than 1 unit, your final code will be 5P1.  However, if it takes two credit cards to cover the damage, the code is 5P2.  Clearly, if there is no damage to the panel/ wheel then the code is 000.

The ARA code can also be used to price parts.  For example 000 code parts maybe 0% discounted; 001 code parts 10% discounted and 002 code parts 20% discounted.

The great thing about the ARA damage locator is that it’s so simple to use & understand, both for the buyer & the seller.  And using it doesn’t cost anything at all.


Used wheels are ‘graded’ in the same way, using the 3-digit code.

1. They must be visually inspected for cracks & distortions, which will mean they will need to be discarded. No hammering, straightening or reforming of any kind should be undertaken.

2. Wheels are then graded using the ARA Damage Codes. Wheels have 4 damage areas:

  • 1 Outside edge
  • 2 Face
  • 3 Centre
  • 4 Inside edge

3. They are then inspected for minor damage that cannot be corrected by sanding or polishing, including:

  • Corrosion (damage code R)
  • Scuff-scrape (damage code S)
  • Gouge (damage code G)
  • Dents (damage code D)
  • Paint/ lacquer problem (damage code T)

So, for example, a wheel with a surface scrape the size of 2 credit cars could be described as condition ‘2S2’ (damage location, type of damage, extent of damage)

Undamaged wheels are ‘graded’ according to whether they have any minor surface ‘blemish’:

  • Grade A: wheel has no blemish
  • Grade B: wheel has a ‘1 unit’ blemish (area of blemish is smaller than a credit card)
  • Grade C: wheel has a blemish of more than one unit of damage


Mechanical parts are graded according to total mileage or average miles per year, as follows:

Grade A Mechanical Parts: less than 60,000 miles, or if over 60,000 miles, less than an average of 15,000/ year. For example, a vehicle of any age with 55,000 miles in total, or a 10 year old car with only 85,000 miles (8,500 miles pa average)

Grade B Mechanical Parts: 60,000- 200,000 miles in total on them, regardless of age.  Also any vehicle >60,000 miles in total where the average miles pa >15,000 miles.

Grade C Mechanical Parts: have equal to or greater than 200,000 total miles on them  regardless of age.

ARA damage locator - UK version v2.JPG