Whether you’re getting your car serviced, applying a modification or simply buying replacement parts, avoid counterfeit parts at all costs, no matter how desperate you are to save money. Counterfeits are nowhere near as well made as genuine parts or their equivalent third-party parts. Their build quality is poor and will break faster that genuine parts, leading to exponentially higher repair costs. Worse yet are these parts failing mid-drive and causing accidents.
Counterfeit car parts were estimated to hit US$45 billion in 2011 in China alone, which is responsible for around 83% of all global counterfeit parts. More recently, in May 2016, over 33,000 counterfeit parts and 55,000 pieces of packaging labelled as “Toyota/Lexus Genuine Parts” were seized in a raid on a warehouse in Guangzhou, China. The parts included airbags, filters, brake pads and break master cylinders, worth a total of approximately AUD$1 million.
Today, we will discuss how to identify counterfeit parts and how to make sure you source genuine parts and how to find reputable part sellers, dealerships and repair shops.
Be Vigilant Online
Nowadays, you can find just about any car part for sale online. But, much like counterfeit clothing and accessories, the internet is rife with shady dealers selling counterfeit car parts.
Look out for the signs of counterfeit parts. First, check the website you’re making the purchase on, and see if it’s SSL certified (starting with https, and has a padlock graphic). Uncertified websites could double as phishing scams. If it’s from a site like Amazon or Ebay, look at who is selling the parts and check to see if they’re an authorised reseller. Also, look at the feedback left by previous customers. Next, check the price. If it’s unbelievably low, be suspicious. If you can get in contact with the seller, ask them where they source their parts from.
(Credit: Toyota Europe, via YouTube)
Once you’ve purchased the parts and received it, look at the packaging. If it feels flimsy and the logos and writing are misprinted, or if any seals were broken, indicating that it was previously opened, unfortunately you may have been duped. As for the parts themselves, scrutinise every detail. Check the build quality and its weight and dimensions. Do they match the manufacturer’s specifications? Look for signs that the manufacturer included to mark it as genuine. These markings are different between manufacturers and brands, so do some research on the parts you’re buying and what to look out for.
Only Deal with Reputable Shops and Garages
The easiest way to ensure you get genuine parts is to have your car serviced at the dealership you purchased it from, as they will always stock genuine parts. However, while the parts may be genuine the price tag will be higher due to the mark-up they place on them.
If you’re going to get your car serviced or repaired at a third-party repair shop, do some research on the business. Check online for any reviews and testimonials to see if they are a reputable business. Unreputable garages may be sourcing their parts from black market chop shops or counterfeiters who sell their parts on the cheap. An honest and reputable business will always use genuine parts as they have their customer’s best interest in mind and they have their reputation to maintain.
As the old saying goes: If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Never buy parts that are suspiciously low-priced as there is a high chance they are counterfeits. If you’re shopping online, always double check the website you’re on and who is selling the parts. Check the quality of the part and look for the marking left by the manufacturer. Finally, always get your car serviced at a dealership or a reputable repair shop that sources genuine parts.