What are counterfeit parts?
Counterfeit parts are parts bearing fake Toyota trademarks that may be substantially indistinguishable from Genuine Toyota Parts. They are not regulated, are not quality tested and do not meet
Toyota specifications. Further, they’re illegal.
“To make matters worse, the industry has seen the entities that are importing gray market parts mix true counterfeit parts in their shipments because counterfeit parts ‘blend in’ with the gray market parts,” Bohi adds. “We get calls from Customs to come to the port to authenticate if these are authorized parts because they look legitimate.”
Toyota along with other manufacturers has formed the Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting CouncilSM (www.a2c2.com) to work to stop the influx of counterfeit parts. This group works hand-in-hand with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Post Office and many other agencies.
Counterfeit: Not a good "fit" for your customers
A lot of collision repair facilities use non-Genuine Toyota Parts to remain competitive with the shop down the street. But what a shop saves up front can hurt it in the long run. Using counterfeit parts can damage your reputation—customers can go on social media to complain about the quality of the parts—and it increases your liability if that vehicle is in another accident and the counterfeit part fails.
This is not a new problem—counterfeiters have been around for more than 30 years. But it’s becoming more of an issue with the recent influx of inferior parts from third world countries. This is motivated by greed as those manufacturers have no concerns when it comes to counterfeit parts infringing on U.S. patents and “stealing” legitimate intellectual property rights owned by Toyota.
That raises the question: What can you do? It’s a two-part answer: The first is prevention. The second is detection.
The power of prevention
Prevention starts with awareness of what parts are being forged. As Bohi says, “We have seen virtually every component of a vehicle counterfeited which can compromise the safety of Toyota owners. A counterfeit airbag, for example, is not going to perform as it should. Counterfeit parts put everyone on the road at risk.”
The issue of counterfeit airbags is so serious that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a series of tests and shared their results that show counterfeit airbags failing to perform and, in some cases, exploding.
With a counterfeit part, you have no way of knowing how much time went into the engineering, assembly, or the materials used to make the part—and, because it’s counterfeit, there are no quality
control standards to which the manufacturer has to adhere. Therefore, the easiest way to prevent this problem is to buy Genuine Toyota Parts from a Toyota dealer. That way, you know that part was built to original equipment specifications.