Product piracy is represented worldwide. Copies and falsifications, so to speak everythingwhat makes money. And the billion-euro business doesn't stop at auto parts either, to the chagrin of motorists and manufacturers. The copies may seem cheaper at first glance, but play with the lives of others. Therefore, a reputable workshop should always point out that only original parts from the manufacturer and contract partner are used.
Anything can be faked!
Asia, North Africa and also Eastern Europe are known for good fakes. The deceptively real plagiarisms are not only offered on various markets, but also on the Internet. However, counterfeit Prada bags or Adidas pants, some of which cost less than 10 euros, usually do no serious harm. The clothing plagiarism only harms the company. However, this perspective changes when it comes to car parts, which are crucial for safety. If copied car parts are out of service, serious damage can occur to the vehicle or even cause an accident.
Exchange car spare parts for life?
Plagiarism and counterfeiting usually look identical to the original, but they are usually made of different materials. For example, durable leather is being swapped for synthetics. Or the brake linings, which are actually made of brass, iron and copper, antimony, molybdenum and zinc sulphides, graphite and silicon carbide. In addition, fibers made of glass, rubber and – more recently – made of carbon. They are often made as a copy of aluminum, zinc and other cheap components. The spare parts then not only corrode faster, but also wear out much faster. The safety risk is also massively increased and they lead to malfunctions in the vehicle. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed the same thing. In their test copied airbags (hard to believe it exists) tested. The test revealed that the firing mechanism was laced with black powder. During the crash test, the airbag exploded like a New Year's firecracker.
Deliberately against originals!?
The Company Ernst & Young once conducted a large consumer survey. This showed that around 55% of buyers deliberately would use a cheap plagiarism because it saves them money. At the same time, this survey showed that people do not take risks accidentally, but consciously. However, people are not aware that counterfeit car parts can even become really expensive afterwards, due to recurring repairs or constant replacement of wearing parts, since the spare parts are produced in an inferior way. Not to mention further damage to the vehicle or accidents. Many people know that there are a particularly large number of counterfeits (product pirates) on the Internet deliberately.
Wheel rims, headlights, spark plugs, brake pads and filters are popular. There are not only cheap sales platforms from private providers, but also often reputable sites that sell such parts. Similar to car shows, where plagiarisms are also often offered. Customs spot checks are not sufficient for a comprehensive check. The counterfeit spare parts simply come to us by post or via large container shipments. The parts are often manufactured in Asia, where legal prosecution of the manufacturer is almost impossible. And in many countries they are too patent law or trademark protection not nearly as pronounced and extensive as ours.
This is what an “apparent” plagiarism looks like!
Apparently these are fake BMW LCI taillights for the 5 Series G30. Identical at first glance to the original, there are many clues by which to tell it appears to be plagiarism are from the Far East. The following is the difference to the original:
- The BMW logo is missing on the outside of the red area of the light.
- The corners and edges of the lights are a touch sharper.
- The ticking has an imprint with a production date (05.2019), on which the LCI vehicle was not even available from BMW.
- There are no BMW QR codes inside.
- There is a cheap additional cable from the light in the side panel to connect to the rear light in the boot lid.
- The taillights even shine a fake E-mark to own.
- The name BMW is nowhere to be found on the lights.
- The lights are not an exact fit.
- The additional parts (seals for the tailgate) do not fit exactly.
- Basically, the processing on the back looks cheaper.
info: At the time of writing, it had not yet been finally clarified whether it was actually plagiarism. Hence our reference to "seemingly".
Recognize counterfeit spare parts!
Even at a very low price, buyers should be suspicious. Comparisons with OEM parts can help here to get an idea of what the replacement part actually costs. Also missing documents and misspellings as well as fake product packaging (Deviations from the original colors, missing stamps or wrong splices) are indications of plagiarism. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can use the Manufacturer's parts catalogue research. It can also help to contact the seller directly and ask why the product you are looking for is being offered so cheaply. A professional workshop can also provide information as to whether the spare part is a possible counterfeit. Here, too, a photo of the article is sufficient. Suppliers who offer spare parts for motor vehicles are subject to strict rules. In this way, manufacturers can be contacted directly to find out whether the provider is actually a contractual partner and is also allowed to sell the parts as intended by the manufacturer.
The Battle of the Manufacturers
As the plagiarisms keep getting better, the manufacturers are following suit in order to label the original parts better and to protect consumers. There wear parts have to be replaced more often, they are also copied most frequently. Manufacturers who need to protect their reputation in the automotive parts market cannot afford to be associated with defective parts. With special departments, the Crime Units, the manufacturers actively take up the fight against plagiarism. The employees deliberately search sales platforms, trade fairs and various markets to find and stop counterfeits.
Protection with codes and seals
The technologies of the manufacturers are becoming more and more complex: Hologram prints, codes and embossing, and lot numbers are added not only to product packaging but also to the parts themselves. This makes it difficult for counterfeiters to plagiarize a product. This makes it easier for retailers and consumers to identify counterfeits more quickly. Large manufacturers of automotive spare parts haveManufacturers against product piracy” (MAPP) to incorporate further security measures. The codes can be retrieved and checked both via the app or via the website in order to precisely identify and trace a spare part.
The Consequences of Plagiarism
If you have a fake in your car, you not only run the risk of causing serious accidents, you will also be severely punished. Especially if the fakes deliberately were used, this can even be punished with imprisonment. The TÜV sticker can not only be refused at the next inspection, but the vehicle can also be confiscated if a car spare part has not been approved and installed inadmissibly. It's different with insurance. This must prove that the plagiarism is related to a possible accident. However, the expert reports and the refurbishment are often more expensive than the damage and uncertain. However, if the insurance company recognizes a connection (e.g. through fake brakes), the owners must be liable for it. In addition, there is often a complaint against trademark law. Anyone who is caught with counterfeit products is rarely punished in Germany. The possession of plagiarism is namely not forbidden, only resale. The situation is different in other European countries, where fines can quickly follow.
Safe but cheap on spare parts
If someone really wants to save on wear and spare parts and does not want to neglect safety at the same time, they can have various original spare parts supplied by reputable third-party suppliers. Here it is good to know that the car manufacturers install and use the parts, but do not produce the spare parts at the same time, but usually also receive them from suppliers. These suppliers can also supply spare parts to private individuals. The suppliers are often companies that are also allowed to sell the original parts. The suppliers also often offer the spare parts a little cheaper, since no big name of a car manufacturer is used for the sale. Consumers can thus get spare parts more cheaply. Another option would be to look into auto repair shops refurbished spare parts to ask. These are professionally prepared, cleaned and their functions checked. These spare parts are approved and may continue to be used. Due to the processing of the spare parts, the warranty is usually that of a new spare part.
Incidentally, a parts certificate / general operating permit (ABE) are mandatory for approved parts and must not be missing. But here, too, you should take a close look and pay attention to any signs of a forgery, such as the quality of the print, the paper, the spelling, etc.
Of course, that wasn't the end of it.
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