IMITATION WITHOUT FLATTERY – THE CONSEQUENCES OF BUYING COUNTERFEIT PARTS
If you’ve done your share of traveling, you’ll have no doubt uncovered some of the exclusive treasures available in hectic international marketplaces. $5 Ray-Bans, $10 Prada handbags and $20 Rolexes are just the beginning of an infinite array of quality, local produce on offer.
We joke of course, although sometimes these replicas are pretty tourist worthy.
Unfortunately, some dodgy knock–offs endanger much more than intellectual property rights. Counterfeit products can have serious, even deadly consequences.
We’re referring to the tidal-wave of fake automotive parts currently flooding the Australian market. In January this year, police in Abu Dhabi seized $5.4 million worth of fake parts, many of which were bound for Australia.
Since much of the trade starts in Asia, Australia is perfectly situated to cop wave after wave of cheap, low-quality and dangerous automotive parts from dodgy manufacturing hubs.
Truck fleets face the greatest risk. Forgers tend to target brakes using sawdust and even asbestos as filler materials. Not only can this have tragic results for the mechanics fixing them, if you’re carrying a full load and relying on brake pads stuffed with sawdust, it could have tragic results for you too.
A growing problem in our region
Southeast Asia’s growing middle-class has caused a massive surge in auto production. This is good for manufacturers, however equally high inflation growth means that parts prices and maintenance costs are rising in suit.
Couple this with the fact 80 per cent of owners in Asia have their vehicles serviced at small, independent facilities – with government policies making it difficult for large corporations to enter the market – and you can see why the fake parts industry is growing at such a startling rate.
This is concerning for Australia. As the counterfeit industry grows, so does its export potential, and Australia is a nearby, profitable market. While statistics on counterfeiting’s specific impact on the trucking industry are scarce, truck manufacturers in the U.S lose an estimated $50 million in aftermarket sales alone.
It’s not just big businesses either. Fake parts hit small, independent parts manufacturers the hardest, who struggle to stay in business due to the dodgy competition. When a seizure of fake truck parts does make headlines, the figures are usually shocking.
While Australia is experiencing an influx of phony parts that put everyone on our roads at significant risk, we can look to Western Asia for what happens when the problem reaches crisis point.
An estimated 33 per cent of auto parts in the United Arab Emirates are counterfeit, which, due to the countries exporting, is causing havoc for the entire region. It’s estimated half of all road deaths in Saudi Arabia are caused by fake automotive parts. In India, fake parts are blamed for the deaths of over 25,000 people a year.
The safest way is to always preference buying your truck parts in Australia. You’re supporting Australian retailers, and avoiding riskier markets like China, where some sources estimate up to 80 per cent of heavy-vehicle parts are forgeries.
Can you tell the difference?
- Thorough checks: If you’ve bought truck parts from a non-verified retailer, carefully check the part for official markings, including colour and logo. Check the part numbers or RMA code online to make sure they’re not copied. Compare the prices, if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.
- Get your hands dirty: Handle each part to ensure there are no subtle differences, including imperfections and weight. If there are any installation issues or the parts don’t fit properly, it’s a tell-tale sign they’re phonies.
- Country of origin: Before you order parts online, double-check where they’re shipped from. If it’s not disclosed, or seems an unusual source, don’t risk it. Investigate suppliers by checking if they’re listed as an authorised seller on the manufacturer’s website.
- Do your research: Ask for specific brands when buying truck parts. If in doubt, contact the supplier or manufacturer directly. Fleet managers should contact the original equipment manufacturer and report the details if they find counterfeit parts.
Law enforcement relies on information from manufacturers to identify dodgy imports. When it comes to buying auto parts, ignorance really isn’t bliss. While finding the best value for your truck or fleet is important, the most crucial factor is the service, reliability, support and integrity of the supplier.
If you buy a bogus watch, you might be late to work. If your wife finds out that handbag only cost $20, you might be sleeping on the couch. But if your airbags don’t deploy in an accident, it’s significantly more likely to be fatal.
Don’t fake it to make it, only buy genuine parts.