3 Tips to Spot Counterfeit OEM Parts: A Guide for Students in Auto Service College

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Counterfeit auto parts have become a big problem in recent years, especially with many drivers buying their own parts online from anonymous sellers. Compared with genuine original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and reputable aftermarket parts, fake parts are more likely to wear down faster and even fail entirely. Fake parts also rarely go through any of the safety and quality assurance tests that are necessary for OEM and reputable aftermarket parts.

That means that counterfeit car parts aren’t just cutting into the bottom lines of auto manufacturers, but they are also putting drivers at risk. Here are three ways you can tell if a part may be a fake.

1. If the Price Seems Too Good to Be True, Then It Probably Is

The main reason the market for counterfeit parts is booming is because they are much cheaper than aftermarket and OEM parts. Many fake parts are sold online, often for prices that are only a fraction of what the part usually costs. Because online vendors can usually remain anonymous, they can sell these fake parts with relative impunity. The first giveaway that a part is not genuine is usually the price. If a part is selling for much lower than an OEM or reputable aftermarket part, then you should be suspicious. Remember, if a part turns out to be faulty, then even the lowest price is far from a “deal.”


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Many fake car parts are sold online for suspiciously low prices

For instance, air bags that don’t deploy or that even explode are among the fake car parts that authorities have seized in recent years. Clearly, such parts are dangerous and their purchase can never be justified by a low price. So, if a customer comes to your after auto service college asking whether or not a part is fake, you can ask them how much they paid for it and if they purchased it online.

2. Look for Abnormalities in the Part’s Branding in Your Service Advisor Career

Forgers are getting more sophisticated, which can make telling the difference between a fake part and a genuine one difficult. However, there are still some telltale signs that a product may be counterfeit. Look out for inconsistencies between a manufacturer’s typical packaging and a fake part’s packaging.

For example, the packaging may feel flimsy or the part may not fit inside it properly. Also, pay careful attention to the logo and brand name. Many forgers will use names that are similar to (but not exactly the same as) real brands in order to fool customers. For instance, while Volkswagen is a real company, Volkswagon is not. Similarly, if you notice the writing contains spelling and grammatical mistakes, then that’s another sign the part is a fake.

3. Compare Fake and Real Parts to Help Customers After Auto Service College

The average customer won’t be able to tell whether or not a part is a fake because they probably have limited experience handling genuine parts. After your automotive service advisor training you could find yourself working at a service centre where you will have access to real OEM and aftermarket parts.

That means that if a customer comes to the service centre asking that your shop install a part that they bought for a great price online, then you have the advantage of being able to compare it side-by-side with a real part. While the two parts may look very similar, watch out for tiny differences. One may weigh less, for example, or even smell differently, which can be signs that cheaper, less durable materials were used in its construction.


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Comparing parts side by side can help you spot when a part may be fake

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