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Warning over fake parts risk

Car owners that use independent garages for repairs are increasingly risking their vehicles being fitted with counterfeit parts that could fail – the world’s largest think tank has claimed.

A detailed report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) has cited the US Federal Trade Commission claiming counterfeiting costs the global automotive parts industry $12 billion a year.

It also cited analysis that counterfeiting-related annual losses incurred by the Japanese machinery industry (including motor vehicle manufacturers) in Asia approach $7.5 billion.

In a survey by OECD researchers, a major car manufacturer claims that already 5% of all spare parts sold in the European Union are fakes, with up to 30% of all parts sold in some Middle Eastern and Asian markets – the bulk being manufactured in China.

However, with the use of independent repair and service outlets likely to grow in the EU as a result of changes to the block exemption regulations and European Commission forcing manufact-urers to release technical information, the likelihood of fake spares being used in Europe will probably grow.

According to the OECD, thousands of mainly small repair firms “are amenable to using non-genuine parts if these are cheaper and thought to be reasonable substitutes”.

It said the vehicle aftermarket often sees parts “purchased on the basis of an acceptable visual similarity between the copies and the originals, rather than on comparisons of their technical performance”.

As for the risks, the OECD said: “The use of fake brake pads, hydraulic hoses, engine and chassis parts, suspension and steering components and airbag mechanisms could seriously impair the safety of vehicles.”

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