The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) says “dangerous” counterfeit car parts are arriving in Australia hidden in shipments of parallel and aftermarket vehicle parts.
According to the FCAI, an investigation by its Genuine is Best initiative revealed that 62 per cent of parts purchased in a test buy programme were found to be counterfeit. The investigation tested purchase batches from six import suppliers that sell car parts to collision and mechanical repairers or directly to the public.
Because the FCAI is undergoing legal proceedings against the suppliers, it has not disclosed their identities.
Hidden among parallel and aftermarket parts, the FCAI said the counterfeit parts needed to be examined by brand protection experts to determine they were fraudulent. The 28 individual counterfeit parts identified include oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, grilles and keys.
The FCAI says OEM brand owners alerted each importer to the presence of counterfeit parts in their batches, and the importers were also advised to alert customers and cease importing immediately. The chamber says it has not determined if the importers are knowingly complicit.
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. “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.”
The FCAI says counterfeit spark plugs capable of causing massive engine damage were the most recent part added to the list of fakes encountered by the Genuine is Best initiative. Other dangerous parts include counterfeit oil filters that do not filter oil, wheels that shatter in low-speed pothole impacts, brake components containing asbestos, and in one case, brake pads made of compressed grass clippings.
“My message [is] be aware of the parts being fitted to your car,” said Weber. “Get your car serviced by your local dealer. They will always use genuine parts. If you go independent, ask the question: Will you use genuine parts, and can I see the receipts please?”
Vehicle owners concerned that they have been sold a counterfeit vehicle part can lodge a report on the FCAI’s Genuine is Best website. The FCAI says all reports are investigated by the appropriate brand and, if relevant, shared with IP enforcement officers at the Department of Home Affairs.