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From Air Bags to Bearings - Fake Auto Parts Endanger Lives

Tuesday, October 16, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Scott Lynch
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ABMA Commentary
Scott Lynch, President

As you may have seen, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a warning about counterfeit air bags being installed by auto repair shops that might not deploy in an accident or alternately, could explode, sending metal shrapnel into the vehicle's passenger cabin.

The fake air bags look nearly identical to certified, original-equipment parts, right down to bearing the insignia and branding of major automakers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The problem affects almost every major auto brand.

When testing was done on these products, they found out they either don’t work or malfunctioned dangerously.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety stated "Air bags save several thousands of lives annually but when an auto repairer installs a counterfeit air bag, consumers can be killed in a crash."

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland stated, "It’s critical that vehicle owners work with their automotive dealers and repair professionals to ensure they use the appropriate, original-equipment parts in the event they need to replace their air bag."

The global counterfeiting issue is real and numerous sectors including bearings are being impacted. In addition, the similarity in safety concerns between counterfeit air bags and bearings are so striking that in many cases above you could substitute the word "bearings” for "air bags”.

Unfortunately, the story above happens all too often throughout the world, but the message here is bigger than just intellectual property enforcement; it is about saving human lives. Whether it is air bags or bearings, counterfeit versions of these products could cause serious injury or death and we must stop them from entering the legitimate supply chain. The facts are:

  • Counterfeiting and counterfeit bearings have grown exponentially over the past ten years.
  • Counterfeit bearings infiltrate the market when trusted sources are not used.
  • In most cases, original equipment manufacturers are sourcing bearings directly from the bearing manufacturer; the counterfeit issue lies in the replacement parts.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, Chinese Customs seized more than 2.2 million counterfeit bearing products at their borders en route to 50 different countries, including the U.S.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized counterfeit bearing products through numerous entry ports including one 2011 seizure with an estimated retail value of about $750,000, including a number of fake versions of premium brands.
  • Counterfeit bearings, including those installed in automobiles, are a significant safety risk.

For more information on the issues surrounding counterfeit bearings, I encourage you to visit the World Bearing Association’s campaign site – and ABMA’s web site at for our domestic efforts around this critical issue.

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