© Crown copyright 2018
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counterfeit-vehicle-parts/counterfeit-vehicle-parts
Counterfeit or sub-standard car parts can range from copies which are hard to distinguish between the fake and the real product, to cheap imitations of genuine products usually produced using inferior materials. Such parts are more likely to fail and can have serious consequences to car drivers, passengers and other road users.
1. How to identify counterfeit vehicle parts
It can be very difficult for an average consumer to identify counterfeit car parts. In this market where technology is constantly improving vehicles, particularly the safety aspects, counterfeiters very often use advanced techniques to make such products look genuine, including its packaging. A visual inspection of the product and its packaging might not be enough to identify a counterfeit part.
Things you should consider before buying vehicle parts
Price and location
Beware of branded parts being sold by unfamiliar sources at heavily discounted prices. If in doubt, research about the seller regardless if it’s online or from the high street. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
Value for money
You can choose between both Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or aftermarket parts and both have their own advantages. Be warned criminals take advantage from both sectors, so you may want to consider the other top tips before buying.
Such parts are usually associated with low prices and can be as dangerous as counterfeit branded parts. It will also affect your vehicle warranty.
This is a complex area with differing technical standards for different parts. However, genuine manufacturers will be able to supply you with a certificate of Original Equipment (OE) matching quality. If you knowingly or unknowingly buy a counterfeit you don’t really know what you are getting.
Two vehicles of the same model and year could feature with nearly identical parts but with different specifications. Counterfeits are more likely to be ‘one size fits all’ which can be dangerous and damage your vehicle.
Tracking and recall
Vehicle manufacturers, aftermarket producers and distributors have mechanisms in place to contact car owners and replace defective parts in the event of a recall programme. If you unknowingly buy and fit a counterfeit vehicle part in your vehicle you could be at risk.
Buying vehicle parts is clearly a not straight forward business. If still in doubt, get advice from your local independent garage, authorised manufacturer dealership or parts distribution.
2. Counterfeits bought online
Genuine websites offer consumers a means of notifying them if the product you purchased appears to be a counterfeit.
Consumers that bought goods using credit or debit card that are discovered to be counterfeits, can also request the refund via the credit card operator using the ‘chargeback’ scheme.
Online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon have guidance on how to report counterfeit products and refunds process. Amazon customers should contact Customer Service to report suspected counterfeit and receive a refund.
3. Where to get further advice and how to report sellers of counterfeit vehicle parts
Manufacturers often offer online information including tools to check the authenticity of their products, tips on how to identify counterfeits and how to report directly to them.
On automotive lubricants, UKLA provides useful information for businesses and consumers.
In motorsport, the FIA (International Automobile Federation) works closely with National Sporting Authorities (ASN’s) to tackle counterfeits in motorsport.
FIA’s comprehensive lists of homologations including approved manufacturers are available. You can report counterfeit in motorsport to the ASN’s in the first instance. In the UK, The Motor Sport Association.
You can also contact law enforcement via:
Citizens Advice or call 03454 04 05 06 .
For Welsh-speaking advisor call 03454 04 05 05.
If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers or call 0800 555 111.