OEC Blog

Part 2: Counterfeit auto parts: Is the threat real?

Part 2: Counterfeit auto parts: Is the threat real?

In our first post, we discussed the impact of counterfeit parts at a personal level. With counterfeit parts vendors raking in $12 Billion dollars a year, what are OEMs doing to help defend their name and reputation?

Counterfeit part makers do not discriminate based on OEM

The major OEM brands are heavily committed to fighting against these imposters — armed with dedicated departments, initiatives, and legal teams. For example GM’s Global Investigations team works with an international network of brand protection and investigators and partners to identify and remove counterfeits from the market. In 2014 alone, Mercedes Benz launched over 2,000 successful investigations resulting in seizures, cease and desist declarations, and raids with the help of over 100 external lawyers and investigators, along with internal Mercedes Benz teams.

Every OEM in every country is at risk

In recent years in Australia, the spotlight was on counterfeit Mercedes-Benz wheels which, to no one’s surprise, underperformed when tested. Counterfeits can come from nearly any country across the world, with the biggest pockets in China and the Middle East. Unfortunately, it also hits close to home – nearly $3 billion of the $12 billion spent yearly on counterfeit parts in is the United States.

While OEMs will continue to fight this battle, governmental groups are getting involved as well. Here in the states, OEMs are working with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Trade Commission among several other law and authoritative administrations to help battle and track down counterfeits both domestically and abroad.

Education, Education, Education

OEMs have launched numerous efforts to educate consumers of the risks of counterfeit parts. Hyundai launched their Consumer Awareness campaign to inform consumers on the risks of crossing paths with these cheap parts. In Australia, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) launched their Genuine is Best website to help consumers understand the benefits of OE parts, and the looming dangers of fakes online. And the BMW Group Middle East, who battles counterfeit parts in the hundreds of thousands, simply directs consumers to always go to the experts, i.e. official dealers.

Online resources you can trust

We can’t speak to all online sources, but as for RepairLink, shops are never at risk for a counterfeit part. RepairLink only publishes parts that are listed on the OEM’s parts master list. Why does this matter? Many suppliers have OEM parts inventory, however RepairLink makes sure that the parts numbers match up with the OEM before even becoming available within RepairLink. Additionally, all parts within RepairLink are compared against the OEM’s master parts list every 30 days for accuracy.

While any resource may look promising, make sure you educate your shops before they think they are getting the deal of the century – it may end up being the fail of the century.