How to spot a fake spare part

Acquiring competitively priced spare parts can be a challenge anytime you are trying to manage your spare parts inventory. The temptation to cut costs by buying competitively is ever present, but the result can leave you with cheap knock-off parts. These are often difficult to distinguish from the real item, but there are a few things that you can do to spot what might be a fake.

What to look for:

  1. Misspellings in the packaging

    This one is pretty straight forward.

  2. Awkward phrasing

    Most spare parts are created by foreign entities, many of which are unfamiliar with the commonalities of American English. In particular, keep an eye on the language in any instruction manuals or technical documents they provide.

  3. “Made in” labels

    Keep an eye out for labels that list a country other than the one where the parts are normally made.

  4. Asymmetry in the part’s components

    Fake parts are made in a hurry and often not very well. Look for areas that should be symmetrical but aren’t.

  5. Colors and designs that are not like the original

    Although some spare parts companies will use different color patterns on the spare, fake parts makers will do so as well. Look for colors that are a bit “off” or a dull copy of the original.

  6. Lack of labels, designs, or the usual identification numbers

    Fake spares may take the form of a plain casting of the part.

  7. Look at the date

    Americans write the date in a month, day, year format. Other nations do not. If your part is supposed to be American made, check the date stamps on the materials to be sure of it.

  8. Uncommon packaging

    If your favorite parts supplier has not informed you of a packaging change, then there probably hasn’t been one. Do not accept a part that comes in a cardboard box if the manufacturer usually sends it in plastic.

  9. Inordinate Price Differences

    Finding a discount is one thing, but if you see parts being offered at an excessive discount (90% for example), the possibility of them being fakes is very high. Remember, if something sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

  10. Call the manufacturer

    Contact the manufacturing company when in doubt and ask them about the part. The customer care department can assist you by sending pictures or talking through your concerns over the phone.

If any of these red flags are present, it may be wise to avoid the sale. Doing so ensures that you escape the pitfalls of using fake spare parts, including damage to your machinery and lost production time.