Counterfeit aftermarket automotive accessories and parts are as prevalent as a street vendor selling a fake Rolex on the corner. The sad truth of the world is that there are people out there that will prey on the uninformed to turn a quick buck. Aftermarket auto accessories are not any different, and consumers should be on the lookout when shopping for discount car accessories.
This is not a new problem. Since the 1980's, criminals have been selling fraudulent high performance car accessories at a cheaper price. The dangers go beyond loss of revenue to the automotive industry. The lower price may save a few bucks in your pocketbook in an automotive world where gas prices are ballooning out of control. It's understandable but dwell on this: most of these discount car accessories and parts sacrifice quality and safety with more inexpensive and less strong materials.
Sometimes what you see is not what you get. On the surface, an article might look like the real deal, but it turns out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Several years ago, CBS Evening News featured a report about counterfeit aftermarket automotive accessories. Brake pads that contained compressed grass or wood chips instead of the usual material were sold to consumers. Brakes are one part that you do not want to mess with, and having faulty brake pad material could be costly in more ways than one. To be on the safe side with performance car accessories, you might do better to pay the extra money and go with a brand name you can trust.
How can the average consumer protect against aftermarket automotive accessory fraud? Here are some tips:
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Seeing a popular brand of an auto body kit you've been eyeing for half price may not be for real. Many counterfeiters have started to counter this tact by lowering the price just enough to avoid suspicion. Do your research. Do not settle with finding the item in one place. Shop around to see what the average price is for the accessory and make an educated decision based on what you've observed ..
Take a look at the package. At first glance, the package may look legitimate but closer inspection may reveal some flaws that could be signs of the part being fraudulent.
Visit trusted stores or well-recommended shops. Stick to places you or someone you know trusts. This does not insinuate that every small shop is deliberately being crooked by selling you discount car accessories; sometimes they are fooled just as much as you can be. Going to distributors you've had good service with reduces risk as distributors often buy from the same manufacturer that has never steered them wrong.
Contact the manufacturer directly. If you're still unsure, the manufacturer can often verify if the performance car accessory is real. Most major companies have anti-fraudulent protocols to prove the authenticity of an accessory. Sometimes this is as simple as a code engraved on the part.
Your vehicle, your money, and your life are important. It would be foolish to settle on purchasing discount car accessories just to save a few bucks. Most manufacturers have phone lines or websites devoted to reporting fraudulent aftermarket automotive accessories and parts. Protect yourself, and report these crimes if you feel you've been a victim.