The dangers of spurious spares in your car

The spurious spare parts business is rampant in the Indian car industry – rampant to the extent that carmakers such as Tata and Mahindra, as well as the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers had come forward to declare an “Anti-counterfeiting day” on June 8 to spread awareness against spurious spares in the market.

But just how easy or difficult is it for you to spot a fake? The rot takes place at many levels – from the average spare parts shop in a crowded market to neighbourhood  mechanics looking to make a quick buck and even some elements in authorized service centres siphoning off genuine parts and replacing them with spurious spares to line their pockets. Also read: When to ditch your authorized service centre and pick a local garage

This whole business is a double-edged sword. On one hand, car companies and their authorized service centres are accused monopolistic trade practices by insisting on selling their spare parts only through their authorized service centres. Car companies maintain that this is done to ensure only genuine parts are used in a customer’s vehicle. The downside is that even if parts are not that expensive, authorized service centres charge much higher labour rates.

However, spare parts dealers and customers assert that this is a monopolistic practice and want all car companies to sell their spares in the open market. This is where things get tricky. Some parts that are frequently used are easily duplicable. Many reconditioned and recycled parts then begin to make their way back into multi-brand spare part shops and are sold in the original parts packaging making the fraud hard to detect. Also read: Five ways service stations cheat you

The parts that are easily duplicable are usually high volume parts – rubber bushes, belts, hoses, air filter, oil fiters, fuel filters, brake pads, rubber beadings, mirrors, clamps, bearings, gaskets, bulbs, wires and cables etc.

Dangers of spurious spares

If you notice the list of spurious spares also includes frequently changed items – oil filter, fuel filter, brake pads etc. These things can be dangerous. Faulty poor quality filters can lead to a shorter life of the engine. Spurious brake pads could lead to early brake failure. Spurious hoses especially critical ones can lead to the car breaking down unexpectedly. Also read: Open market sales of all car parts soon

How to stem the menace of spurious parts?

But how do you as a customer prevent the use of spurious spares in your vehicle? At an authorized service centre the chances of a spurious spare being used are lower, but not entirely impossible. Here you need to pay attention to the bill – and make sure that all parts that were changed are returned to you, just so that they don’t get recycled into another customer’s car. Also, if you are allowed on to the shop floor keep a close eye on the spares – make sure they are in their sealed boxes and packaging when they are sourced from the store.

If you are getting your car fixed in the open market and have to source spares yourself, stick to the recommended brand for your car and don’t fall for lookalike or replacement brands. Insist on a bill if you have to and keep a check on the packaging, ensuring it is properly sealed and doesn’t look like it’s been tampered with.

Just to save a few hundred rupees on the cost of a spare (Eg. Original brake pad set for a certain hatchback cost Rs. 2,800 a pair, while “Chinese” pads cost Rs. 1200 a pair. Original fuel filter for a diesel SUV costs Rs. 1800 while a local make costs only Rs. 900). It’s just not worth the risk in the long term to cut corners with spurious spares. Also read: Seven lies car showrooms tell you

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