Fake car parts situation is getting worse

Posted on May 16th, 2017 by Rob Marshall


It appears as though the fake car parts scandal is worsening, since our last blog on the topic. In a worrying recent development, we have come across an honest motor trader getting caught-out, by receiving counterfeit shock absorbers through his well-established, trusted and reliable parts supplier. Thankfully, the technician noticed that there was a problem and alerted his supply chain, before he installed the dampers to the vehicle.


Bearings also came under the spotlight, during early 2017. In February, the Swedish manufacturer, SKF, reported that it is success in court led to 15 tonnes of counterfeit bearings being destroyed. Closer to home, West Yorkshire Trading Standards seized around 1.5 tonnes of fake bearings in late March,  assisted by SKF’s efforts to protect its brand. While bearings might not sound terribly interesting, they are critical to road safety. For example, a failed wheel bearing is likely to cause a serious incident, by either seizing and locking the road wheel, or causing a wheel to come off the affected vehicle completely.

While counterfeit bearings are unlikely to perform to the same exacting standards as those made by credible manufacturers, the same applies to wheels. Some online shops, for example, admit to selling replica rims and prior investigations, led by BMW, found that counterfeit alloy wheels tended to shatter upon a typical minor impact (such as striking a pothole), resulting in an instant deflation, while the genuine part is designed to distort without failing, thus not affect the tyre’s integrity.

In many cases, it is impossible to tell the difference between a sub-standard (or even counterfeit and illegal) car part. Much of the parts buying game is down to trusting your suppliers, the brands and being wary of prices that appear too good to be true. Yet, even this is not a cast-iron guarantee.

Like SKF, quality car part suppliers are under constant pressure to protect their brands and you will find that some companies are taking action. We hope that this is not a losing battle. Pictured are two sections of catalytic converters. The fake part contains only half of the required ‘brick’ of expensive metals that is required to catalyse harmful pollutants, compared to a part made by a credible manufacturer (Klarius exhausts in this case). Yet, from the outside, the parts look almost identical.