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Are Junk Chinese Car Parts Taking Over the Universe?
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Posted On: 2/16/2011 2:12PM
SuzyBruisy

It's no secret whatsoever that China has long been spewing junk car parts into the market. Brake pads that fall apart, ball joints that wear out in three months, electronics that catch fire. But Autoblog is reporting a huge surge in "fake parts" from the People's Republic in the last couple of years, including failure-prone oil seals and defective air bags. Gosh, they're even using "low-grade rubber and metal to cut costs". Maybe it's been awhile since anyone from Autoblog has bought any parts or wrenched on anything, but this is what's been going on all along: the junkification of the automotive aftermarket spearheaded by garbage-parts manufacturers from (sorry to finger our friends from the East), CHINA. What they're calling "counterfeit" parts in this article, I call pretty much anything made by Airtex or Standard Motor Products or any of the other dime-a-dozen "economy" brands. It's the reason I've become more and more obsessive about researching the country-of-origin for the parts I buy, and paranoid about getting stuck with the cheaper brands even when they're the only option readily available for a part I need. Because guess where these parts come from? Yep, the land of unregulated crap-grade alloys and bargain-basement plastics. Read more...

But here's another non-secret: China manufacturing is creeping up into even the respected parts brands as those companies scramble to cut production costs and survive the recession while keeping up with the "competitive" pricing of the junk brands. So for example, shelling out for a pair of Raybestos brake rotors gives you no additional protection against warpage, because chances are they come from the same junk factory as the no-name 20-dollar discs. If you want brake rotors made in the US, your best bet at this point is to find some new old stock on eBay.

So will there be any relief from this flood of garbage parts? It's hard to say, because most consumers blindly grasp for the cheapest option when getting their cars repaired, especially when doing it through a third party, like a national chain garage that's also interested in keeping parts costs to a minimum. But maybe the number of consumers like you and me who deliberately avoid China parts will grow as stuff becomes more and more undeniably junk. And maybe shops will get tired of sending back parts that don't fit, or having to do warranty work for customers who bring their cars back three months later with the same problem after the China parts they installed have failed.

Comments (9)
Avatar By: Team61RaceCars
2/16/2011 8:24 PM

There's a reason it's all called 'Chinese JUNK'. It is also a way to weaken our US economy where we repeatedly spend and spend for the same crap over and over. They're recycling scrap metal by selling U.S, junk parts that fail, then we scrap those same parts, and THEY buy that scrap for pennies on the dollar, and around and around we go.......

 
Avatar By: RockShox
2/16/2011 8:28 PM

Like it or now, China today runs the world.

 
Avatar By: ___nes___
2/16/2011 9:24 PM

I never ever ever buy Chinese parts for my car. the low quality is noticeable right away and I would not want to try my luck to see if the parts hold up at 70mph.

 
Avatar By: Katakuna
2/16/2011 10:32 PM

^^^Agreed.

 
Avatar By: MrAMC1
2/17/2011 5:36 AM

The whole thing is depressing. And you and and the article are right. It is literally Chinese junk. They use poor materials and don't have many regulations to follow and with cheap labor they just overrun and flood the automotive market. The first year I went to SEMA in 2006 I also went to the APRA side of the show over at the Sands. APRA is for the automotive parts suppliers while SEMA is for custom and aftermarket and all are part of the Automotive Aftermarket week in Las Vegas every year. Anyway, the place is huge and is where a company like Autozone would go to sign up suppliers of parts for their stores. I walked through the show and was completely floored at what I saw. 75% of the booths were Asian manufacturing companies (mainly China, Korea, and Tiawan) making copies of American parts to supply to US. I can't tell you how many different booths I'd walk by and see a Delco alternator or starter made by these foreign companies. I'm talking row after row and booth after booth of the same thing. All American designed products copied and offered as direct replacement and competition to their original counterparts. I couldn't believe the shear volume of it all. I haven't been back to APRA since. I just can't stand to walk through the place it's so depressing. And just to add insult to injury just about every one of these foreign companies had an American representative to talk to customers. I would say 90% of them were middle aged guys that probably worked for Delco, Bendix, Wagner, Borg Warner, etc and had been squeezed out and laid off. Their only options apparently are to now front these foreign copiers by who's own existance probably cost that guy his job in the first place. You literally have to see it to believe it and it will make you think. Like I said, I went to APRA once and that experience opened my eyes and I just can't stomach going back.

 
Avatar By: MrAMC1
2/17/2011 6:25 AM

I mistyped. I didn't mean APRA, I meant AAPEX. APRA is another show that I attend at the same time, but the above comments are for the AAPEX show, not APRA. I wish the comment form had an edit function so you could go back and fix stuff that came out of your keyboard wrong!

 
Avatar By: MrAMC1
2/17/2011 6:40 AM

I'll actually take another moment to plug the APRA. APRA is the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association. This an organization of mostly American companies that remanufacture car parts and return them to industry with new components at a fraction of the cost of originals. Many times a component of a bigger assembly will fail rendering the part inoperable, but it has too much value in it to throw it away. An example would be a bearing failing in an alternator. The alternator doesn't work, but it can be fixed and reused. When you take the broken alternator out and return it to the store for a new one you have three options: New OEM, new aftermarket (usually China), and rebuilt or remanufactured (usually American parts and American rebuilt). The core you turned in gets sent to a remanufacturer, disassembled and inspected, defective parts replaced, tested, and restocked back to your parts store. I will tell you from my experience dealing with companies that work with the APRA remanufacturers will most likely just scrap Chinese reproductions and only remanufacture OEM parts. The reason is the Chinese ones are almost copies, but nothing usually interchanges and if you try to rebuild one it usually doesn't work. One of the big problems remanufacturers have is identifying these knockoffs in their core stream and pulling them out before they spend time and money on disassembly and cleaning. Bottom line, the remanufactured part is a great option to a cheaper knockoff part if you want to maintain US quality parts on your ride, but can't afford the new OEM price. Buy something that started out being made here and was repaired here before you buy the foreign stuff even if it saves you $10 at the register.

 
Avatar By: MopTop
2/17/2011 3:17 PM

China makes everything, so theres no way ANY car has american parts only, unless its all custom made here! Unless its made in mexico or japan. Where do you think your tires are made at!?! Most likely not here.

 
Avatar By: MADMAX333
2/19/2011 1:14 PM

My tires were made in Japan! Sumitomo FTW!!

 

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