Here is how to spot fake car parts

Thursday August 06 2020
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If you do not trust yourself to spot a fake spare part, purchase genuine ones from a reputable dealer. PHOTO | RACHEL MABALA

A shockingly large group of motorists say they have ever been duped with a fake car spare part. The sheer volume of car models released every year, makes it rather difficult to keep on top of things.

With every new model released, new spare parts enter the market adding to the already vast amount of older spare parts. This muddle gives counterfeiters the loophole they need to create their own parts that are in most cases hard to spot.

Micheal Ocaya bought a new set of tyres for his Toyota TX in August 2019. But within six months, he had to replace them because one of them had burst while the treads of others had worn out.

“I was shocked because the tyres I had replaced these with had lasted three years. When I confronted the dealer about it, he was unable to give a satisfactory explanation. From then, I started doubting all other spare parts I bought,” Ocaya recalls.

Much as Ocaya did not know the cause of the problem, Eric Amadi, a mechanic, suspects that Ocaya’s tyres could either have expired and were kept at the shop or were fake or substandard but were disguised as new.

“Before buying new tyres, check for the year of manufacture or go with a mechanic who can help you. Most new tyres will serve you for approximately five years and will need replacement thereafter. When a tyre is ageing after serving you for this period, the treads normally widen, a sign that they need to be replaced,” Amadi explains.

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Deals too good to be true
Besides tyres and expiry dates, you will sometimes rush into sealing the deal for a spare part especially if the dealer offers it to you at an affordable price. However, Amadi says if someone is selling you spare parts at a giveaway price; lower than the price at which you normally buy it, then maybe the deal is too good to be true. Therefore, make price comparison research to find out if what you are looking for is within the same price range.

Change in packaging
Abby Ddungu, a motorist, says the packaging and branding of most spare parts is always uniform for a long time. This is because countries such as Japan or Germany tend to stick to particular packaging that their customers can easily identify.

“There are unscrupulous spare parts dealers who design fake packaging materials and old recycled spare parts and package them in their designed packs after selling off the original part. If you are not well conversant with the packaging, drive with your trusted mechanic to the spare parts to offer their expertise and save you money in the process,” Ddungu advises.

Same spare parts, different prices
Edward Mugisha, a mechanic, explains that in some instances, you will find the same spare parts with the same shape and size but at different prices. In most cases, the one that looks newer costs less and the one that looks older costs more.

“The fact that the same spare parts cost different prices should be cause for you to probe further. In most cases, those that look a little old are genuine and those that are still packaged or look new are sub-standard. This is when you need a second look from someone (mostly mechanics) who understands spare parts to make the best choice,” Mugisha.

Difference in performance
Amadi observes that fake car parts do not perform like genuine ones. For instance, parts such as engine oil filters and spark plugs do not provide the same level of filtration and engine power as genuine ones. Fake oil filters lead to a clogged engine in the long run, especially for turbo engines.

Warranty issues
If you buy a spare part and the dealer does not give you warranty, it is a sign that it is fake. If it is genuine, they will give you warrant, even if it is for a month. It is safer to be assured of warrant, and you return the part when it fails to perform or when it performs for few days and breaks down.

Dangers of using fake parts
According to Mugisha, a mechanic, the dangers of fake spare parts depends on the purpose the spare part serves. For instance, with fake brake pads, you will either experience brake failure at some point or fail to control the speed of the car few days after you have replaced them.

Where to buy
Reputable dealers
According to Eric Amadi, a mechanic, genuine parts are sold by trusted dealerships. The spare parts at these places might be more expensive but they give you value for money. Such places also give warranty and the freedom to return the part if you discover it is faulty.

Collective effort
“There are unscrupulous spare parts dealers who design fake packaging materials and old recycled spare parts and package them in their designed packs after selling off the original part. If you are not well conversant with the packaging, drive with your trusted mechanic to the spare parts shop to offer their expertise and save you money in the process,” Ddungu advises.

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