Fake body parts ‘part of do­ing busi­ness’

Motor Equipment News - - PANEL & PAINT -

Fake body parts are rife in New Zealand – so much so that “they have be­come part of do­ing busi­ness,” ac­cord­ing to John Man­ley, MD of Nissan NZ, and pres­i­dent of the Mo­tor In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion.

Af­ter read­ing about faulty Com­modore re­place­ment car bon­nets en­coun­tered by a num­ber of Holden own­ers in Aus­tralia, Mo­tor Equip­ment News con­tacted lo­cal im­porters, in­clud­ing Holden New Zealand, for their take on the prob­lem.

The is­sue had arisen in Aus­tralia af­ter that coun­try’s au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try body, the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries (FCAI), warned that some im­ported Holden Com­modore bon­nets were not durable enough for safe op­er­a­tion.

The cham­ber an­nounced it had also struck a co-op­er­a­tive agree­ment with the Depart­ment of Im­mi­gra­tion and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion in a bid to stamp out the im­por­ta­tion of coun­ter­feit parts, and last year the depart­ment in­ter­cepted and seized 190,000 im­ported fake parts.

The “fake” Holden Com­modore bon­nets were tested by Holden en­gi­neer­ing staff, as well as Aus­tralia’s Cen­tre for Au­to­mo­tive Safety Re­search (CASR). The re­sults: The fake bon­net in­creased the chance of trau­matic brain in­jury for pedes­tri­ans as the steel was thicker than the “gen­uine” item and didn’t de­form as it was de­signed to.

The metal used to make the strike wire – the U-shaped wire on the bon­net which en­gages with the latch in front of the ra­di­a­tor – was too soft, and would lead to the wire break­ing. The wire in the fakes was also poorly mounted into the bon­net and would even­tu­ally pull free of its mounts. This could re­sult in the bon­net fly­ing open at speed, with cat­a­strophic re­sults.

The stan­dard bon­net struts were “over­whelmed” by the heav­ier steel bon­net, and could fall onto the heads of peo­ple work­ing in the en­gine bay, or even just per­form­ing rou­tine main­te­nance..

“This has been going on in New Zealand for years,” said John Man­ley. “Usu­ally pi­rate im­ported parts are nowhere near OEM fac­tory spec­i­fi­ca­tion. It’s some­thing most of the Ja­panese fran­chises in par­tic­u­lar have learned to live with.

“Any­thing com­ing out of Thai­land or Ja­pan, there’s a plethora of parts be­ing of­fers on Trade Me and what­ever that’s nowhere near spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

“You only need to talk to some panel beat­ers, and they’ll tell you it of­ten takes so much time to try to make the pi­rate parts fit that they’d have been bet­ter off buy­ing gen­uine parts in the first place.”

John re­counted a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence in­volv­ing his son, who needed a rear bumper for his Nissan Navara. He bought a cheap part, but says John, “it was so flimsy you could bend it into a corkscrew with your bare hands”. The so­lu­tion? “Buy gen­uine parts,” says John. “They are prop­erly de­signed, made to fit, and made from the cor­rect ma­te­ri­als. If you buy ‘cheap’, you get what you pay for!”.

That said, there seem to be no prob­lems with fake parts re­ported to Holden New Zealand.

“We haven’t been ad­vised of any in­stances in NZ, but in the mean­time, we would strongly rec­om­mend peo­ple to pur­chase gen­uine Holden parts via the autho­rised net­work of deal­ers and ser­vice cen­tres,” said Ed Finn, gen­eral man­ager – cor­po­rate af­fairs.

How­ever, un­safe parts have been an is­sue at Suzuki New Zealand.

Said Paul Corn­forth, gen­eral man­ager parts and ac­ces­sories: “Suzuki New Zealand has is­sued ad­vice to the dealer net­work in the past on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, to be passed on to the trade, and has been in the mo­tor re­pair me­dia, par­tic­u­larly the panel re­pair sec­tor, re­in­forc­ing that not only af­ter­mar­ket, but also gen­uine parts par­al­lel im­ported from other mar­kets, are not nec­es­sar­ily man­u­fac­tured to the same ve­hi­cle com­pli­ance codes as those made/re­quired for our mar­ket spec.

“They there­fore can­not be legally fit­ted, and are a safety con­cern.”

Mit­subishi’s Daniel Cook, head of sales and mar­ket­ing strat­egy, noted: “I’ve got no doubt that non-gen­uine parts for our ve­hi­cles are be­ing im­ported and sold. Un­like the Holden sit­u­a­tion though, I don’t have con­firmed and clear ex­am­ples of those parts per­form­ing in a dan­ger­ous man­ner.

“Ob­vi­ously a non-gen­uine part is not de­vel­oped to the same tol­er­ances and stan­dards as a gen­uine one, so it stands to rea­son they will not per­form as well.

“One mea­sure we take is through our branded in­sur­ance; only gen­uine parts will be used in a re­pair on a Mit­subishi ve­hi­cle. This gives our in­sur­ance cus­tomers peace of mind that only the best qual­ity parts, de­signed for their ve­hi­cles, will be fit­ted.”

Hyundai New Zealand’s spon­sor­ship and events man­ager Daniel Page said the is­sue was not ap­pli­ca­ble to Hyundai in this coun­try at this stage. “We’re not aware of any coun­ter­feit parts that would ap­ply here”, he said.

Paul Bow­ness, parts & ac­ces­sories sales man­ager at Toy­ota New Zealand com­mented: “We haven’t heard of any sim­i­lar in­ci­dents for Toy­ota either here or Aus­tralia. As such we don’t want to is­sue a warn­ing to cus­tomers.”

And Maria Tsao, mar­ket­ing ser­vices man­ager of Mazda NZ, said Mazda’s parts man­ager can­not rec­ol­lect any in­stances of is­sues with coun­ter­feit prod­ucts in New Zealand. “Mazda parts are com­pet­i­tively priced in NZ, and the pric­ing model is quite dif­fer­ent to NZ,” she said.

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