The automotive industry is issuing an urgent alert on counterfeit parts after large batches of spark plugs purchased online have been confirmed as fake.

Placing vehicles at great risk of major damage, 60 per cent of the hundreds of spark plugs purchased in trap buys are verified frauds, passing off low quality materials and inferior construction as genuine parts.

The low-quality counterfeits could cost drivers thousands in engine repair costs.

With poor ignition causing poor fuel economy and poor engine start up, the fake spark plugs’ low grade composition causes them to overheat quickly. Drivers will notice a major drop in engine power, particularly under heavy acceleration or load. If the fake spark plugs continue to overheat, they will melt and cause extreme engine damage.

The trap purchases were undertaken by a coalition of automotive manufacturers, with the fakes packaged and marked with forged Honda, Nissan, Mazda and Toyota branding.

The automotive industry is urging drivers to exercise extreme caution purchasing parts outside the dealer network. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber said anyone purchasing parts outside the dealer network was at risk.

“The best way to avoid a fake? Make certain your parts are purchased from the authorised dealer network,” Mr Weber said.

“We have experts examining the packaging and spark plugs and even they can barely tell the difference. You won’t know it’s a fake, until it’s too late.”

The automotive industry is working with relevant online trading platforms to remove listings and ban sellers of the illegal counterfeits from their sites.

The discovery of the fraudulent parts adds spark plugs to the list of fakes encountered by FCAI initiative Genuine is Best. Other dangerous fakes include counterfeit oil filters

that do not filter oil, wheels that shatter in low speed pothole impacts, brake components containing asbestos and in one case, brake pads made of compressed grass clippings.

Genuine is Best offers a reporting hub for drivers, mechanics and any consumer who believes they may have been sold a dodgy vehicle part. Reports can be made at https://genuineisbest.com.au/suspicious-part-report/. All reports are taken seriously and followed up by both the relevant vehicle maker and the Department of Home Affairs.

The FCAI’s Genuine is Best initiative focuses on the safety, performance and durability benefits delivered by genuine replacement parts.

Genuine parts are made or selected by the vehicle’s maker and rigorously tested by that maker as an integral component of the vehicle to meet high quality, safety and performance standards.

This ensures a vehicle will drive, function and protect in the way it was intended. Find out more at www.genuineisbest.com.au