OEC Blog

Part 1: Counterfeit auto parts: Is the threat real?

Part 1: Counterfeit auto parts: Is the threat real?

Being in the auto parts business, how much of a focus should you put on counterfeit parts? And are those even a threat?

I don’t think you’d be surprised if I said it should be a major focus. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security increased seizures of counterfeit parts to 83 percent last year — a whopping 17% increase from the year before. To counterfeiters, that means there’s a market to make money on parts. To you, that means you have to be extremely diligent in ensuring your customers – and your customer’s customers – understand the evident danger of these deceptive impostors.

Understanding the counterfeit world

Some may not see the bigger impact in using a counterfeit part. Purchasing just one counterfeit item won’t hurt anything or anyone, right? Yes, they are cheaper, but technicians know that anything other than an OE part may need some modifications to ensure the right fit, asking the question, “Is it even worth the time or hassle?”

Generally speaking, counterfeit items are usually made in underdeveloped countries, funded by ill-advised – or potentially illegal – operations to make substantial profits. And if they don’t fall in that category, they may fall in the poorly-regulated bucket. These operations are usually not following labor laws, and don’t care if they use toxic materials. Their bottom line is to ensure they make money and supply the demand of the black market. So buying that counterfeit item not only supports illegal and harmful business practices, but also gives them confidence to keep doing what they are doing.

How counterfeits cross your path

What kind of parts have the U.S Department of Homeland Security found? Here’s a small list:

·         seat belts

·         oil and air filters

·         brake pads

·         brake rotors

·         control arms

·         windshields

·         bearings

·         steering linkages

·         ignition coils

·         spark plugs

·         wheels

·         solenoids

·         clutch housing

·         crankshafts

·         diagnostic equipment

·         suspension parts

·         oil pumps

·         microchips

While we know you never want your customers to use counterfeit parts, the possibility still exists. Educating your customers on counterfeit parts is critical to customer safety, shop reputation – and potentially the entire business. Your customers being well-versed on OE is so important because, “At worst, [counterfeit parts] can fail catastrophically with potentially fatal consequences.”¹

As the saying goes, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Since these parts are so easily accessible online, make sure your parts – OE parts – are just as easily accessible. RepairLink can help you with that.

OEMs dedicate time and effort to deter and fight the counterfeit parts market. Check out our blog post next week as we unfold the ways OEMs are helping fight the good fight on fake parts.

¹U.S. Department of Homeland Security