When It Comes To Parts…Beware of Imitations

counterfeit partsA few years ago I bought a purse for my wife at a bargain outlet.  I thought it was a Coach and I would be a hero. It turned out to be a knock-off, so instead of being a hero, I was a goat.

The major effect of the fake Coach purse was to reinforce my wife’s opinion that I am a cheapskate. The effects of counterfeit auto parts are much more serious. Fake parts are poorly made and can fail easily, leading to comebacks and a damaged reputation of the shop. More importantly, they can effect the safe operation of the vehicle potentially putting the driver and occupants at risk.

Parts counterfeiting is a major issue in our industry. It is estimated that the global cost of fake products to the industry is over $45 billion. Legitimate companies who make both OE parts and those meant for the aftermarket spend billions on R & D, brand development, service and training programs for the shops and much more. The thieves who steal their designs are not just stealing from them, they are stealing from you.

Imagine if a shop opened across town from you. They used your name and logo, and then undercut your prices but produced shoddy work. It sounds absurd doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is what is happening when it comes to automotive parts. Fake parts are produced using legitimate companies’ logos and, in some cases, even their packaging. The parts are produced in uncertified facilities overseas and are usually vastly inferior. Often they are sold at much lower prices, like the fake Coach purse I bought, but at other times, they sell for the legitimate part price. In either case, if you install a fake, you lose.

Recently, one of our readers contacted us because he bought a part he thought was Delphi but it turned out to be a fake. We turned the case over to our legal team for investigation. This is how you can help. If you think you have purchased a counterfeit part, contact us. We will investigate vigorously.

Here are a few ways to spot the fakes:

  • Inspect the packaging. It looks flimsy or does not have the name and logo of the brand it is probably a fake. Look also for misspelled words on the package. Beware, however, because counterfeiters often use the typefaces, colors and graphic designs that are very similar to the legitimate brand.
  • If the price is too good to be true, beware. Price differences for products in normal in a competitive marketplace but if you see an extreme difference in price for a part, it could be a fake.
  • Make sure the part number is listed. Many counterfeiters do not list part numbers.
  • Because it is what’s inside the part that counts, counterfeiters have become adept at imitating the outside appearance of parts while cheapening the interior components.

The best way to counteract counterfeiters of course, is to take away their market. Always Know Your Parts and always specify parts made by major aftermarket and OE suppliers.