Unknown quality standards were one of the key objections raised by the local automotive industry to the Federal Government’s now-dead plan to allow more parallel imports of second-hand vehicles to Australia.
Proof has now arrived in the form of counterfeit alloy wheels which have failed even some elementary tests conducted by the Federal Chamber Of Automotive Industries’ (FCAI) ‘Genuine Is Best’ campaign.
Using the comprehensive test roads at Holden’s proving ground in Lang Lang, Victoria, the fake wheels shattered when driven over a pot-hole at a speed of 50km/h – the limit in many Australian suburbs.
The benchmark alloy wheels used in the test – from Mercedes-Benz - showed no after-effects despite repeated journeys over the same pot-hole.
Further laboratory tests of the fake wheels confirmed faults in the manufacturing process.
Among the findings were micro and macro porosity and hot tearing (multiple cracks in various locations) traced to poor quality casting and manufacturing processes – particularly overheated molten metal.
Former race driver Mark Skaife – who did extensive work with Nissan’s local special vehicles operation when racing for the Japanese giant, so he knows a thing or two about alloy wheels, engineering validation and Australian standards – is an ambassador for the FCAI’s ‘Genuine Is Best’ campaign.
“The genuine and counterfeit wheels look similar but these tests have proven the potentially lethal consequences of making the wrong choice,” Skaife said.
“The fake wheels were sourced from an Australian-based online store, and at first glance you might think you’re getting a great deal. But the major concern with fakes is safety, and using them, knowingly or otherwise, means you’re taking a huge risk.”
Mr Skaife said the only way to avoid safety concerns posed by the fakes was to ensure owners or their repairers sourced genuine parts only through the vehicle’s maker’s authorised supply chain.