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Fake auto parts and road safety

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ANY legitimate car nut would tell us not to scrimp on automotive parts, especially counterfeit ones, since the “savings wouldn’t be worth the headache”.

Lately, there is clamor within the domestic auto-parts industry about the proliferation of fakes being sold by unscrupulous auto supply shops. Most are imported from abroad and costs only a fraction of original parts but bear very identical packaging.

Current available data from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) tallies 7,690,038 registered vehicles across the country, bulk of which are in National Capital Region. Even a third of that figure would be a very lucrative market for fake parts.

Fakes are not to be confused with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. OEM parts undergo the same rigid quality and performance testing standard procedures as original ones. Besides, some of a vehicle’s components are actually made by separate OEM companies as contractors to huge car manufacturers, like Toyota, Mercedes Benz, BMW, or Honda.

Examples of top 100 global OEM companies are JTEKT Corp., Bosch GmbH, Denso Corp., Yazaki Corp., BASF SE and NTN Corp. Independent bogus manufacturers may counterfeit both original and OEM parts.

Recently, auto enthusiast and veteran journalist Rey Langit hosted auto parts advocate lawyer Noven Joseph Quioc in one of his programs. Lawer Quioc said the Philippines unfortunately lacks facilities for accident and fatality analysis, such as those in developed countries like the US, making efforts to understand the cause of accidents difficult.

Quioc said fake auto parts are not treated at the same level as spurious drugs or food items since they don’t seem to have an immediate lethal or health impact.

Langit said it is quite alarming that some of the most commonly counterfeited parts are directly related to passenger safety than cosmetic value. Examples are mag wheels, tires, bearings, brake discs, brake pads, rubber rings, axle boots, oil filters and under chassis components, such as tie rods, rack ends and ball joints.

In most cases, consumers are unaware that they are buying a fake part since the packaging of counterfeits is almost like that of original products.

There are times that a consumer would consciously prefer a fake auto part for the fraction of a cost in order to save.

That’s why many car enthusiasts suggest to only purchase parts from reliable and reputable auto supply shops. These shops usually have posters or flyers that show comparisons of packaging and product quality of parts in order to help consumers identify if what they are buying is fake.

More often that not, fake products have misspellings, grammatical errors or design inconsistencies, such as misaligned texts or inaccurate colors in the packaging. The quality of the boxes and hologram/security stickers are of substandard quality. Some parts are also plastic-sealed to avoid tampering.

“Fake car parts compromise the safety of everyone in the vehicle. For instance, buying fake rims, tires or brakes may not seem much, but many thrifty car owners forget to understand that these parts keep direct contact with the road. Should these parts fail, the accident will most likely be catastrophic, if not cause of traffic,” said Jose Nicolas Calanoc, deputy editor of C! Magazine.

“Those who are buying fake automotive parts should ask themselves: are their and their passenger’s lives worth that amount they get to save?” he said.

Arnel Doria, president of Safety Riders Association of the Philippines and Safe-T Ryders Training Center, said in a recent news conference that the menace of fake auto parts is not just restricted to loss of life but translates into a loss of revenue for an industry, as well. It also means less taxes and revenues for the government because the firms that make these fake parts do not pay taxes.

Worse, many of these fake parts are smuggled into the country. That’s why international and local auto parts makers are coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to raid and seize these items.

The law-enforcement agency has been at it for almost two decades now, following complaints. Once caught, importers, distributors and retailers of fake parts will be charged in violation of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

Recently, the National Bureau of Investigation conducted simultaneous raids in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Davao and Tagum, resulting in a rich haul of fake automotive parts.

Again, would you rather risk your life and your loved ones for a fraction of a price?

 

To reach the writer, e-mail [email protected]

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