Counterfeit car parts are threatening to cost Australian motorists thousands in repairs, but worse than that, it could cost them their lives.
Oil filters, brake pads and airbag triggering devices are just some of the fake parts doing the rounds in a dodgy illegal industry thought to be worth almost $20 Billion worldwide. In many cases the parts look identical to the genuine product and come in packaging that so closely mimics them that it’s virtually impossible to tell them apart.
Last year a raid in the United Arab Emirates saw the seizure of half-a-million counterfeit parts worth $5.4 million in a Dubai warehouse. They were packaged with the trademarks of 15 different carmakers. It followed a raid in China’s Guangzhou city that also saw 33,000 fake Toyota parts seized by police.
Closer to home a “sting” operation conducted by Toyota and Hyundai in November last year turned up a racket where a distributor was selling counterfeit parts in packaging so close to the original it was virtually impossible to pick them as fakes.
So how do they get into the market? Well in many cases dodgy parts wholesalers sell them to independent mechanical workshops. At other times unsuspecting motorists go on line looking for a bargain and buy a part that looks genuine at half the normal price – a clear sign that something’s not “ridgy-didge”.
Saving $20 on an oil filter may not seem quite such a bargain when you’re facing thousands of dollars in repair bills thanks to that filter failing and wrecking your vehicle’s engine.
Wrecked engines are one thing, but the consequences of counterfeit parts can go far beyond costing big dollars – they can cost lives. Australian customs officers have seized fake Toyota airbag parts in the past. Toyota has warned that the fake parts are not up to scratch, with poor quality electrical terminals and crimping.
“Poor quality crimping in the counterfeit part means that the integrity of the circuit cannot be guaranteed, especially during an accident,” Toyota warns.
“Toyota Genuine Airbag Spiral Cables also use copper for the spiral cable wire (ribbon). The counterfeit part … uses an inferior copper alloy posing an increased risk of wire breakage. All of the differences in the counterfeit part add up to a serious risk that the airbag will not deploy in an accident.”
Counterfeit brake parts are another concern. Many contain asbestos which pose a hazard to those replacing them as well as the general public. And the problems don’t end there, according to Toyota:
“Toyota Genuine Brake Pads have a pad wear indicator manufactured from special steel that is designed to emit a noise when pad replacement is required. The pad wear indicator on this counterfeit part is bent, poorly positioned, poorly riveted to the backing plate and manufactured from mild steel that will not emit the same noise to alert the driver when pad replacement is required. Counterfeit brakes put people’s lives at risk.”
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You can relax, knowing that all work done on your vehicle is done to the best possible standard at an approved service centre and that it complies with the original order in cost and work description.
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