A customer sent me an email saying that a part we sold was $70.00 dollars higher than the same part he found it on eBay®.
I had to look into this.
The part in question, a headlight switch for an Audi A6, we sell as an Original Equipment part, meaning it was from Audi, in the Audi box. Not from one of our OEM/OES part manufacture.
The part on eBay® looked the same in the pictures so how could this be? How could they be that much cheaper?
But than I noticed the part was located in Hong Kong. Now I got it; it is a counterfeit part selling under the premise of being an Original Equipment part.
And the other point that interested me was in the seller’s conditions you cannot return the part. A typical counterfeit part manufacture trait.
For a $70.00 savings what could be bad about installing a counterfeit headlight switch?
If it is not made right it can cause wiring damage, melted wire harness,the part itself melting in the dash, even a fire!
A headlight switch might not be that big of a problem, but what about Brakes? Bearings?
How does this affect you? Installing a counterfeit part might just lead to a minor inconvenience but it also can be a safety issue depending on the counterfeited part.
Counterfeit Automotive Replacement Parts Problem.
The counterfeit part problem is a Global problem that has been going on for years, reported to cost upwards of 12 billion a year.
It was a big problem in the 80’s, Fram filter’s being the most publicized problem. Old tuna cans were made into an oil filter and stuffed with rags. If the part was installed on an engine, that engine did not last long. Hard to tell the difference from the real Fram filter and the counterfeit one until you opened the part.
Back than the counterfeiting problem was slowed down, but now with today’s sophisticated global economy and the increase in technology counterfeiting has made a comeback, big time.
Most of the counterfeit parts are tracked to the Far East. Cheaper labor and lax trade laws.
Some of the counterfeit parts are high quality reverse engineered copies of the original, they look and feel the same, but the components are not of the same quality, cheaper metal, inferior plastic, improper electrical components, substandard brake pad material and a lot more .
In pocketbooks or watches this isn’t a problem, but in car parts in can be a safety issue.
Even in our shop we have experienced counterfeited parts, mostly from customers who got the part at a great price.
We have seen timing belt tensioners that looked the same but fell apart when the car was started. Resulting in bent valves.
We had one timing belt tensioner that was assembled backwards.
An air conditioner receiver dryer where the holes were not machined correctly, we couldn’t keep the lines from leaking. We didn’t open it but we wondered what they used for the desiccant material inside.
A Porsche 911 Parking Brake/Seat Belt warning light assembly, wired incorrectly inside causing the wire harness to melt.
Had a customer come in with a melted wire harness because the counterfeit fuse he installed didn’t melt, that cheap little fuse cost him a lot of money.
We have heard of brake pads made of compressed grass clippings. Wheel bearings made out of inferior metal causing them to fail almost immediately.
Bottom line is if the price is too good to be true it is.