Counterfeit Auto Parts? Yep, They Exist
Counterfeit Auto Parts Can be Dangerous
If there’s one challenge that virtually all industries have to deal with, it’s the problem with counterfeit products. Manufactured to trick customers and make a fast buck out of it, some counterfeit products can be harmless, others can be slightly harmful, while others can be downright life-threatening. Included in the dangerous category are fake automobile parts.
What’s the Harm?
According to Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) Senior Vice President Bill Hanvey: “While it may be disappointing when a pirated DVD or CD fails to play or when a knockoff wristwatch falls apart, no lives are in danger. However, when a counterfeit part on a vehicle fails, it endangers everyone traveling our nation’s roads and highways.”
Fake auto parts are dangerous because they are typically below standard, which means they will not function the way they are supposed to, and can put the driver and passengers in harm’s way, instead of helping them reach their destination safely. Plus, they are unlikely to be a perfect fit with the automobile where they are put in and might eventually cause problems or complications because of compatibility issues. More than just being costly to repair, this might also lead to accidents.
“We’ve seen counterfeit safety belts that weren’t secure and air bags that have exploded so dramatically they probably would have done harm had they gone off. Some of them even failed to deploy,” said Bruce Foucart, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center for Homeland Security Investigations.
Unfortunately, the safety risk isn’t just confined to those in the vehicle with the faulty counterfeit parts. When the vehicle fails to operate as it should, everyone on the road that’s near or around it can get affected too.
What’s the Result?
Alarming as the situation is, it is somewhat a relief to know that authorities are not taking it sitting down. Just recently, a new coalition called the Automobile Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (the A2C2 for short) was formed to help resolve the deplorable threat of fake auto parts. Made up of nearly every auto manufacturer, the group meets 4 times a year and coordinates with the IPR Center by providing intelligence information. Their combined efforts have so far led to 130 seizures, 12 criminal arrests, 16 indictments and 15 convictions.
While the government and car manufacturers are doing their share in helping thwart the continued proliferation of counterfeit parts, consumers have their own responsibility as well.
As a vehicle owner, you should…
- Be cautious about the auto shops you take your vehicle to. Make sure you choose a reputable repair shop (like Big Sky Collision Center in Billings where we use only OEM parts), or one that belongs to your car manufacturer’s dealership repair network.
- As much as possible, ask for OEM parts. If you have to buy aftermarket parts, do so only from trusted merchants and distributors.
- Avoid buying parts which are priced way below than similar products. Chances are, such parts are either being sold illegally, or are counterfeit parts.
- If you believe you may have been victimized and have unknowingly allowed fake parts to be installed in your vehicle, you may report it to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through its toll-free tip line 866-347-2423. Or you can file your complaint online to the International Property Rights (IPR) Center through https://www.iprcenter.gov/.
Bring Your Vehicle to Big Sky Collision Center
Are you looking for an auto body shop that doesn’t cut corners? Want only the best for your vehicle repairs? Want your car detailed after the repairs are done? Then Big Sky Collision is the place for you! We strive for integrity; getting you back on the road in a safe vehicle is what we are all about.
Call 406-259-6328 for more details on how we can repair your car.