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Can You Really Buy A Counterfeit Auto Part

You’re shopping for auto parts online. You notice that between two parts, there is no difference in specifications, but a noticeable difference in price. While the cheaper price certainly does entice you, you choose to pay more because of a gut feeling about counterfeit auto parts. You may feel like you made the right choice, but you just wasted hard earned cash based on a feeling.

In the fall it’s not uncommon to get a runny nose. You go to the drug store looking for Kleenex. You buy a box of tissues and go home and blow your nose when you need to. Whether or not you buy Kleenex brand tissues or another competitor is irrelevant, because at the end of the day you got a quality product that served its purpose to you. Think of how many products you write on your grocery list that a labeled with a brand name. When going shopping you buy Kleenex, Band-Aids, Lysol, Kraft-Dinner, and Aspirin. You wouldn’t write Facial Tissue, Adhesive Bandages, Chemical Disinfectant Spray, Cheese Flavored Macaroni Noodles and Acetylsalicylic Acid. For some products, the brand name has replaced the generic term or actual product name.

Proprietary Eponyms – Where The Brand Name Has Become The Generic Term

How does this apply to auto parts? Each major auto brand makes parts. You can buy Mazda brake rotors. Another company can also manufacture the same parts. You can buy a competitors brake rotors. Auto parts also end up in a position where the brand name can replace the generic term. You may be searching for a specific competitor when in reality most parts on the market are similar, separated only by companies who create less of a markup on their products. A car is a very complex machine. Each part in your vehicle is engineered to fit into a very specific shape, size and role. Unless a part is made to its exact specifications, it won’t work. Certain parts can only be made of certain materials. Combining the need for exact manufacturing as well as specific materials makes selling a counterfeit auto part more trouble than its worth. A brake rotor, made to fit a 2008 Mazda 3, would need to:

A) Be composed of the same material as a part bought from the dealership
B) Have the same fit as a part from the dealership

So two parts, made of the exact same material for the exact same fit (and with modern manufacturing practices, at the exact same factory) where one is $100 cheaper, can one be labelled a counterfeit?

No. It’s simply the same part at a better price.

So, hold on. If a product can be made for $1, and one company wants to sell it for $10 and another company wants to sell it for $100, why do people buy the $100 version? There are a number of factors that go into how a company prices a product, a subject that even if you enrolled in an MBA in Business at Harvard, you’d still have a hard time explaining. Consumer attitudes are always changing. Sometimes, people will spend $100 on a $1 product. Other times, $10 is all that would be tolerated.

We get a lot of questions on how we have prices so low. What are we up to? We are the manufacturer, we are the distributor, we are the wholesaler, and we are the retailer. In other auto part processes, there is one manufacturer, who ships their parts to a different distributor, which then go to a separate wholesaler, and finally to a different retailer. Each step of the way a different company expects a share, and that makes the price go up. If you can have one company look after the whole process, the $1 item can cost $10, instead of the inflated $100.

The takeaway from all this is to avoid misinformation. A cheaper part isn’t a fake, it’s a lower price. A quick Google search for identifying counterfeit auto parts yields some incorrect facts. For example, a plain box is apparently a tell-tale sign of a counterfeit part. A plain box could be done to save costs, or in the case of buying and shipping a large quantity of products, a detailed, colourful box is simply not needed. Knowing the difference between brand names, competitors, and generic terms can help avoid feeling tricked and can actually lead to finding better deals.

Prime Choice has proudly manufactured and sold OEM equivalent auto parts for 35 years.

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