Counterfeit Auto Parts

Josh Bargar | August 22, 2019

Suddenly, the unexpected happens.

A driver cuts you off, a deer jumps in front of your car, someone blows through a red light. You slam on the brakes without a second’s hesitation, but too much pressure causes the brake caliper to crack. The brakes fail. You don’t stop in time and serious injury and damage is incurred. What’s more devastating is that the airbags did deploy, but only part way. What just happened?


Counterfeit auto parts endanger everyone.

These parts usually bear the trademark of a legitimate and trusted brand, but are produced by another party which does not abide by the specifications of the OEM (original equipment manufacturer). The quality and performance you expect from authentic parts is simply no longer there. 

For example, let’s take the metal thickness of car parts and compare them to wooden sticks. If you pick up a small stick and bend it by hand, it breaks.  But what if you take a 2×4 and try to bend it with your bare hands? Unless you’re Hercules, not much is going to happen. It’s the same with metal in a car. Normal thickness steel, determined by the OEM, is like that of the 2×4. Under normal vehicle wear and tear it’s designed to be rigid and strong, keeping the driver, passengers, and anyone outside of the vehicle safe. Counterfeit parts may not have the same thickness and/or rigidity, and could end up snapping like a twig under pressure. 

Counterfeits contribute to accidents.

According to a 2016 study conducted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle traffic deaths account for almost 38,748 deaths per year in the United States. Though, it’s difficult to say exactly how many of those deaths were caused by counterfeit auto parts.

When accidents happen, sometimes you get an insurance adjuster to investigate the case, or a state trooper and they aren’t necessarily looking for failing auto parts, they’re looking at road conditions, environmental surroundings, or if the driver was distracted. It really does beg the question, “how many accidents are caused by counterfeit auto parts alone?” In India, it’s estimated that roughly 20% of all auto accidents that occur are the result of counterfeit parts

Some of the most dangerous counterfeit products you’ll find are airbags which can literally explode in the victim’s face during an accident. In the United States, it’s estimated that nearly 250,000 vehicles on the road have counterfeit airbags installed in them. According to, “Vehicles that have had their airbag replaced at a repair shop instead of the dealer are at high-risk of having a counterfeit airbag installed.”

For more information, check out this news report on counterfeit auto parts.

Stay informed and buy genuine.

So, how can you tell if the car part you’re buying is genuine, especially when many of the fakes look like the real thing? Use a reputable garage or dealership. Many car guys will tell you they know a guy, or they have a mechanic that they trust like family – be wary here. Most reputable garages have your best interest at heart. They are going to put in the effort to take care of their customers, including the inspection of parts they’re using for repairs. 

If you are doing your own auto work, verify where the parts are coming from. Order from a local car parts store that has a good reputation, or from a validated and vetted online outlet instead of going with that deal that seems too good to be true. Much like purchasing a car, the devil is in the details, so do your research before you click order. Genuine OEM parts might cost a little more, but it’s quality and assurance of safety that you’re paying for.

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Josh Bargar

Josh Bargar is a seasoned investigator who uses his talents to put away the bad guys. Over a decade ago, he graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and was on-boarded at IPS as a fraud prevention analyst. Josh decided to move into the realm of brand protection where he continues to fight online crime and recently received his Master's in Project Management. His taco making skills are also outstanding.