The FCAI has issued a warning to motorists to be wary of counterfeit car parts that don’t perform at the same level as genuine and quality non-genuine aftermarket items.
The announcement comes after Mercedes-Benz seized fake brake pads in Germany and performed testing of the counterfeit pads in comparison to non-fake parts.
It found that in emergency stops from 100km/h cars fitted with bogus items ‘ploughed through safety cones representing pedestrians and other vehicles, at high speed.’
Specifically, the fakes added 25 metres to emergency braking procedures in dry conditions.
The German maker also said that during simulated high-speed braking and long hill descents, braking effect was decreased to levels that may leave motorists unable to slow or stop.
It follows similar testing from BMW in 2017 that found fake brake pads started to smoke and disintegrate in just the first quarter of standard testing procedure, showing that fake car parts do not stand up the quality of genuine (branded OEM and sometimes produced by aftermarket brands) and aftermarket parts, often made by OEM suppliers but with different branding.
The fake car parts market is worth up to $20 billion and over 600,000 counterfeit items were seized in 2016 and 2017, though no items were from Australia. However, counterfeit brake pads were seized here in 2015 by Toyota when an independent mechanic unknowingly purchased 40 HiLux brake pads online from China and sold 10 of them on Ebay.
But Nationwide Research director Craig Douglas says it knows fake parts are currently being sold in Australia.
“We know that these inferior parts are being fitted to vehicles locally and without the knowledge or consent of the vehicle owners,” he said.
Douglas says most fakes are produced in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and parts of the UAE. Australian automotive retailers are reportedly approached to buy the fake parts which are described as genuine and sold at a discount.
“We have traced counterfeit dealers in these regions approaching Australian automotive retailers offering to sell them parts they describe as genuine at less than local prices.
It is not known how many fake car parts are actually in Australia, but Douglas said, by his own guess, 20 per cent or one in five mechanics are using counterfeit parts.
“My estimation is that for every eight mechanics that say no to counterfeits, there are two that say yes, mostly because the fakes are so convincingly packaged and disguised.”
Douglas also suggested that even more mechanics would be using dodgy parts soon.
"This problem is on the rise and Australian consumers need to be vigilant," he said.
In response to the evaluation of the fake brake pads seized in Germany, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber made a plea to Australian motorists to use only genuine parts from dealer networks.
“The Chamber and the automotive industry again implore Australians to buy genuine parts from their local dealer because they can be assured they are getting the real deal."
“And always ask the simple question of your repairer: ‘Will you be using genuine parts to repair my car?’”
While buying genuine parts from the dealer network should ensure non-fake items are used, Stuart Charity, executive director of the Australia Automotive Aftermarket Association, says aftermarket or non-genuine parts purchased from reputable retailers will still protect consumers but ‘too good to be true’ online deals should be avoided.
“If a part is non-genuine, but is interchangeable with the genuine part, it would be viewed as being fit or appropriate for the purpose and would therefore not void the manufacturer’s warranty.
“The critical point for independent workshops is to only source parts, lubricants and accessories from reputable manufacturers and suppliers. These parts also come with Consumer Guarantees under Australian Consumer Law in the very same way that OEM parts do.
“Aftermarket parts may also provide a significant price advantage. Using unknown internet sources to get a cheap price is not good policy.”
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