One constant refrain in the technical features on AutoCarePro and all of our sister sites, is the need to use quality parts — and trust where that part is coming from. Failing to do so puts your customer and your shop’s reputation at risk.
But even the most conscientious technician could be duped from time to time when it comes to counterfeit parts. The issue might be more widespread than you think. For example, Bosch recently filed two lawsuits regarding brand violations in its gasoline systems category.
Bosch alleges that Euro-Star engaged in bait-and-switch tactics, leading customers to believe that they are purchasing genuine Bosch parts (for example canister purge valves) but instead delivering non-Bosch parts.
Note that one of these lawsuits includes Costco because of its involvement in retailing the counterfeit versions of its parts.
Speaking to WUSA 9 in Virginia, Bruce Foucart, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, paints a disturbing picture as to the amount of counterfeit parts on the road today, many that even the best technician wouldn’t notice.
From WUSA 9:
“We’ve seen counterfeiting in brake pads. We’ve seen counterfeiting in safety belts. That becomes a huge concern for us because you’re dealing directly with the safety of the people in the car,” Foucart says.
Fake airbags are one of the biggest items being smuggled into the U.S. and placed in cars today.
Foucart says, “We tested some of those airbags and found that there was an almost 100 percent fail rate. And, some of those airbags either exploded or failed to open up.”
According to CNN, some shops say auto insurance companies are coercing them into using cheap and counterfeit parts.
John Mosley, an auto body shop owner in Clinton, Mississippi, explained how he saw insurance companies pushing consumers to “preferred” shops where repairs are done faster, cheaper, and at times unsafely.
“The insurance industry has set up networks of shops, direct repair programs,” he said. “And the way these shops’ performance are measured is by the amount that it cost to repair cars at that particular shop. … Just get the car in, make it look like it’s fixed and get it out the door.”
Insurance companies can cut costs by approving recycled parts or those not made by the original car manufacturer.
Auto repair always seems to be in the news in a negative light, but the counterfeiting issue is one that can help quality shops that do things the right way, as the WUSA 9 story concludes:
Law enforcers say it’s hard to quantify the scope of this problem. Their best advice for us is to deal with reputable repair shops.
“My reputation is on the line to put a quality part in your car,” says co-owner of Bethesda Imports Specialist Mike Cunningham.
Any suspicious auto parts that enter your shop should be reported to the IPR Center.