Counterfeit oil filters sold to Australians online are placing thousands of engines at major risk, expert analyses have found.
Bench flow testing of seized counterfeit oil filters packaged for use in popular Toyota, Hyundai and Kia models identified several design and engineering flaws, including a major one that exposes crucial engine parts to damage and failure.
Laboratory reports conducted in Japan and Korea revealed the important oil bypass valves inside the filters failed. Bypass valves are a feature of oil filters that allow oil to reach the engine if a filter becomes blocked or clogged.
The tests found that the counterfeit filters’ bypass valves often remain permanently open which stops engine oil filtration. This may cause unseen damage to vital internal parts.
Over 500 counterfeit filters branded as Toyota, Lexus and Mobis (for Hyundai and Kia vehicles) were seized recently, and the sales records of the fake filters collected. The affected car companies are working to track down those customers to warn them of the engine issues posed by these bogus filters.
Genuine is Best ambassador and touring car legend Mark Skaife said the scale of the problem was immeasurable.
“If you have bought one of these filters online thinking it is legitimate, then think again because those few dollars that you think you saved could end up costing you thousands,” Skaife said.
“Unfortunately we don’t know exactly how many of these fake filters with their dodgy materials have reached our streets. This seizure is just from one retailer, and involves over 500 filters.
“What’s of equal concern is that there is an entire industry of counterfeiters and criminals out there working on ways of evading detection and defrauding Australian drivers with bogus items which may appear genuine but clearly are not.”
A Toyota Australia spokesperson said engines fitted with counterfeit filters would inevitably suffer costly damage.
“Unfiltered oil containing dirt, metal and other particulates eats away at vital engine components causing severe engine damage. This would leave vehicle owners with a hefty repair bill for a complete engine rebuild,” a Toyota Australia spokesperson said.
Wrapped in bogus packaging and with artfully forged labelling, these counterfeit items are almost indistinguishable from the genuine parts.
“From the outside, the counterfeits are difficult to tell apart from the originals, even for our trained technicians.”
In bench testing and analysis by Toyota genuine automotive component manufacturer Denso and Hyundai equivalent Mobis, the counterfeits also demonstrated poor filtration qualities and reduced service durability compared with the genuine articles.
FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said car owners should take an active role in ensuring genuine parts are the only ones they accept.
“This component test was conducted by two separate labs in two separate countries and both reached the same conclusions,” Mr Weber said.
“Counterfeiters are only in this for the quick buck; they can’t hope to replicate the thousands of hours of research, development and engineering that stand behind genuine parts, even with something as small as an oil filter.”
“For the sake of a small short term saving, these poor quality copies don’t even operate as a filter and risk many thousands of dollars in repair costs. It is essential that you check that your mechanic and repairer uses genuine replacement parts sourced from the authorised dealer network. It’s as simple as asking the question.”