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Counterfeit car parts conspiracy uncovered

By David Bonnici, 19 Feb 2021 Car News

counterfewit car parts

Brake pads made of grass clippings are just some of the dodgy parts being sold alongside genuine products

Dangerous counterfeit car parts are arriving in Australia concealed in shipments of genuine vehicle parts at an alarming rate, a Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) investigation has found.

The FCAI’s Genuine is Best initiative revealed that two thirds (62 per cent) of the parts purchased in a 'Test Buy' program were found to be counterfeit and included 28 types of products including oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, front grilles and keys.

Genuine (L) and fake (R) spark plugs
Genuine Nissan branded spark plugs (left), counterfeit (right).

According to the FCAI, counterfeit spark plugs capable of causing major engine damage were the most recent part added to the list of fakes encountered by Genuine is Best.

Others include fake oil filters that do not filter oil, wheels that shatter in low-speed pothole impacts, brake components containing asbestos and in one case, and even brake pads made of compressed grass clippings.

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The investigation involved testing purchase batches from six separate import suppliers that sold parts to the collision repair or mechanic trade, or directly to the public.

The imitation parts were found intermingled with legitimate parallel and aftermarket parts.

CounterfeitToyota Oil Filter RHS Note spring

Genuine Toyota oil filter (left) and a counterfeit oil filter (right).

Such was the effort to make them appear genuine they required brand protection experts to determine they were fraudulent.

According to the FCAI, the extent of the racket has reached a point where Toyota Australia has sought to take down as many as 1200 listings per month to protect drivers from counterfeits.

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Each importer of the parts has been alerted by brand owners to the presence of counterfeits in their batches and advised to alert customers and cease import immediately.

It is yet to be determined if the importers were knowingly complicit, with ongoing legal proceedings preventing the disclosure of the supplier’s identities.

Genuine vs fake Hyundai packagingGenuine Hyundai oil filter (left) and a counterfeit oil filter (right).

FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said the discovery was unwelcome but not unexpected.

“Each of these shipments imported a part that could ruin your day,” he said.

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“The fact they were carefully concealed among other non-genuine parts indicates the level of deception these criminals are going to, just to hoodwink honest drivers who think they’re getting the real deal.”

“We’re talking about low quality, criminally manufactured and distributed parts designed to deceive. We’ve done the testing, and we know these counterfeits will at best leave you with major repair bills.

Genuine is Best is an initiative of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) in conjunction with manufacturers and importers of vehicles in Australia.