The per­ils of us­ing fake car parts

Cash-strapped mo­torists risk fall­ing prey to sell­ers of coun­ter­feit and sub-stan­dard car parts which, in the long run, could cost them dearly. So how do they trust that the part they are sold is the real deal? Hav­ing a broad un­der­stand­ing of the auto comp

Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY - By Glenda Wil­liams

aside­from the dan­gers that coun­ter­feit re­place­ment car parts pose through ac­ci­dents caused by part fail­ure, in­fe­rior qual­ity parts are likely to re­quire fre­quent re­place­ment. Then there is the thorny is­sue of im­pact on car war­ranty.

It all adds up to the like­li­hood that a cheap fix could, in the long run, cost mo­torists more than gen­uine parts.

“It is im­por­tant that mo­torists un­der­stand the level of stan­dards and qual­ity checks that go into OEM [orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers] parts. Orig­i­nal parts en­sure op­ti­mum safety. Coun­ter­feit parts may be cheap, but mo­torists run the risk of safety is­sues as well as long-term main­te­nance costs and un­nec­es­sary and costly re­pairs,” says Re­nai Moothilal, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­tive Com­po­nent and Al­lied Man­u­fac­tur­ers of South Africa (NAACAM).

Many mo­torists are un­aware of the con­se­quences of us­ing coun­ter­feit parts, and of­ten un­sus­pect­ing ve­hi­cle own­ers are duped into pur­chas­ing fake parts think­ing they are gen­uine.

SA’s car parts in­dus­try

The ma­jor­ity of NAACAM mem­bers in SA sup­ply parts and sub-assem­blies used for ve­hi­cle as­sem­bly by OEMs and for dis­tri­bu­tion as Orig­i­nal Equip­ment Ser­vice (OES) parts. The lat­ter are ap­proved parts sup­plied via the OEM to its do­mes­tic dealer net­works and in­de­pen­dent re­pair shops in the OEM branded box.

“In this con­text there is very lit­tle prob­a­bil­ity of coun­ter­feit parts in­fil­trat­ing the sup­ply chain given the strict and strin­gent pur­chas­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween OEMs and their sup­pli­ers,” says Moothilal.

Then there is a dif­fer­ent cat­e­gory of parts pro­duc­tion, self-branded spare parts. This cat­e­gory, ex­plains Moothilal, can be bro­ken down into two; “rep­utable” branded spare parts and “other” branded parts.

“Al­ter­nate parts (rep­utable parts) are sometimes from the same sup­pli­ers we use or other rep­utable man­u­fac­tur­ers. They may not have the same strin­gent sign-off process and be of a lesser qual­ity, but are still safe to use and SABS ap­proved,” Matt Gen­nrich, gen­eral man­ager of Group Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Volk­swa­gen Group South Africa, ex­plains.

“The ‘other’ branded parts cat­e­gory com­prises a whole range of branded or un­branded parts which may or may not be fit for pur­pose or meet the re­quired spec­i­fi­ca­tions where they ex­ist. This cat­e­gory is not nec­es­sar­ily bad or coun­ter­feit prod­uct, but is typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with very cheap, im­ported parts. The prob­lem here is that it is of­ten left to the buyer to deter­mine whether these parts are suit­able,” says Moothilal.

Ac­cord­ing to Gen­nrich, ef­fec­tively 30% of to­tal busi­ness would be what OEMs sup­ply and 70% would be al­ter­nate and/or coun­ter­feit parts.

“The big­gest in­di­ca­tor on suit­abil­ity will be price. Of­ten if there is a big dif­fer­ence in the price be­tween the rep­utable branded part and the un­known brand then one can as­sume that there may be longert­erm qual­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity and safety is­sues with the part con­cerned as the costs of pro­duc­ing for such a high-stan­dard prod­uct are prob­a­bly not be­ing in­curred,” he ex­plains. Broadly speak­ing, it’s a cheap, sub-stan­dard fake of the orig­i­nal. “Coun­ter­feit parts are parts pack­aged and sold as be­ing some­thing they are not in an ef­fort to de­ceive the end user into think­ing that a high-qual­ity, rep­utable branded prod­uct is be­ing pur­chased,” says Re­nai Moothilal, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­tive Com­po­nent and Al­lied Man­u­fac­tur­ers of South Africa. While ve­hi­cles are un­der war­ranty they would nor­mally be fit­ted with gen­uine parts. But the older the car gets, the less likely it is that cus­tomers will in­sist on gen­uine parts. It’s dif­fi­cult for the layper­son to vis­ually dis­tin­guish be­tween gen­uine and coun­ter­feit parts, but there is one im­por­tant in­di­ca­tor – price. “If there is a ma­jor price dif­fer­ence be­tween the part in ques­tion at a re­tail out­let ver­sus the com­monly ex­pected re­tail price, then it’s pos­si­bly a coun­ter­feit prod­uct,” cau­tions Moothilal. “Ideally parts should be sourced from es­tab­lished re­tail­ers and ser­viced at trusted work­shops.” Ac­cred­ited mem­bers of the Re­tail Mo­tor In­dus­try Or­gan­i­sa­tion (RMI) and Mo­tor Parts & Equip­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (MPEA) sell orig­i­nal and re­place­ment parts into the au­to­mo­tive af­ter­mar­ket. When deal­ing with any busi­ness in the re­tail mo­tor af­ter­mar­ket, mo­torists could look out for an RMI stamp of ap­proval.

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