Consumers to be vigilant of illegal and inferior quality automotive parts

Reports once again of illegal automotive materials surfacing in the market, this time R5 million in fake bearings at a Johannesburg warehouse, have sparked concerns from industry players about the continued proliferation of counterfeit merchandise and the dangers associated with using inferior parts.

In February this year, R80 million of illegal automotive friction materials was destroyed at the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), an agency of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

Vishal Premlall, National Director of the Tyre, Equipment and Parts Association (TEPA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says counterfeit product is just part of the problem.

He is equally concerned about the proliferation of sub-standard quality parts flooding the market and compromising consumers’ health and safety. He says the problem with these parts is there is very little, if any traceability, no technical support and no recourse for the consumer.

TEPA National Chairman, Johann van de Merwe, says to curb access to these illegal and inferior quality automotive parts that seem to be entering our borders through compromised processes, TEPA is actively engaging the relevant compliance authorities to prevent these parts from entering the automotive aftermarket. “TEPA is also developing a whistle blower hotline where cases of illicit trading activity may be reported by both industry and consumer. We believe that these partnerships between industry and the statutory compliance authorities will go a long way to rid the country of unscrupulous trading activity and accordingly call on all other stakeholders to join this plight. For consumer peace of mind, it is imperative one only utilizes accredited parts outlets, where you are assured of quality products and access to recourse should something go wrong,” says van de Merwe.

As the economy continues to tighten, more and more of these sub-standard products are creeping in and falling into the hands of cash strapped consumers who do not realise the full impact of utilising inferior or counterfeit parts as they are referred to in the trade.

At a recent South African Motor Body Repairers Association (SAMBRA) conference, Layton Beard, Head: Public Affairs and International Relations of the Automobil Association of SA Africa (AASA), presented on road safety in SA and referred to stats available from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) showing that in December 2020 there were 602 085 unroadworthy vehicles on our roads. 

Beard showed when you look at the number of fatalities for the same period, 9 969 people lost their lives in 2020 of which 29% were drivers and 30% passengers. 

“While it is impossible to draw a direct correlation between total annual fatalities on our roads and the number of unroadworthy and unsafe vehicles, the figures do paint a grim picture. The reality is that over the last decade 2011 – 2020, there have been  129 031 deaths from 8 300 000 crashes,” he said.

Premlall agrees with Beard that making safer vehicles, as well as reducing the unacceptably high number and cost of road deaths, must be a top priority for all South Africans. Inferior and illegal component parts are not making the situation any easier.

“The only way consumers can protect their rights is to ensure they buy parts at an accredited outlet.  This gives them peace of mind that any component parts purchased or used, carry a traceable identity from a reputable manufacturer of the parts. It also provides them most importantly with recourse, in the event there is any problem.

“If the seller can provide traceability and integrity of the parts, the consumer is at far less risk,” he concludes.

Vishal Premlall - TEPA director