When purchasing automobile parts, you are making the assumption that the parts are original. Unfortunately, the growth of counterfeit auto parts is harming the auto supply industry, the overall U.S. economy, and puts drivers and passengers in extreme danger. What can be done about the problem? Consumer awareness! Let’s explore the effect of fake car parts on American life.
What exactly is a fake part? Is it an inferior branded item or something completely different? Counterfeiters are ‘wise’ in that they do not create and market a low cost alternative brand, instead they copy well known existing brands. The Jeep parts you purchase may come in a package that is nearly identical to the one marketed by DaimlerChrysler, but only the package is the same: the product you are purchasing is of an inferior quality [not equaling manufacturer specifications] that can damage your car. Reports about counterfeit brake pads have circulated for years; deaths attributed to accidents involving fake parts have been recorded.
According to the Department of Commerce, the US economy loses approximately $200 billion a year from the counterfeiting of trademarked consumer products and as many as 210,000 jobs have been lost. Worldwide, it is estimated that as much as 9% of the global economy is based on trafficked counterfeit goods, many of these items being auto parts. In Germany, fake VW parts as well as counterfeit BMW parts have surfaced compromising the quality and safety of the two brands.
So, what products are especially prone to being copied? Unfortunately, virtually everything. The following, are some of the items reported by the original equipment manufacturers to be frequent targets of counterfeiting and the “ingredients” they contain:
Brake pads containing sawdust
Fire extinguishers filled with flour
Transmission fluid laced with dyed oil
Filter stuffed with rags
Here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing new auto parts:
To avoid purchasing counterfeit products only shop with a reputable supplier; e.g. authentic VW parts as well as manfacturer made BMW parts will be sold by recognized online providers. If a part somehow manages to find its way into the inventory of a respected auto parts supplier, you can return or an exchange the item.
The price of an item on eBay or at the flea market is probably “too good to be true” for a reason. Counterfeiters use flea markets extensively to market their wares while eBay and some other auction sites are notorious for passing inferior products.
Examine the packaging and check for incorrect spelling. Ford auto filters have appeared on auto supplier shelves with the words “Food” substituted for Ford and “Motograft” for Motorcraft.
The trafficking of counterfeit auto parts will likely be a long term problem, so you – the consumer – can play an important part by shopping wisely and examining the part before you install it on your vehicle. The safety of you and your loved ones can be compromised without exercising diligence.