Australian Border Force (ABF) have been busy stopping what the automotive industry says are potentially dangerous counterfeit vehicle parts from getting into the country.
The peak automotive industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), said its efforts to help ABF officers crack down on the trade was producing results.
FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said training provided by the automotive industry initiative Genuine is Best and Toyota Motor Corporation had assisted ABF officers with identifying and seizing counterfeit vehicle parts.
The ABF's haul had included counterfeit oil filters, engine air filters, cabin air filters and strut spacers, he said.
Testing performed by Genuine is Best had demonstrated counterfeit vehicle parts, if fitted, could cause severe engine damage and may result in road safety issues, Mr Weber said.
"As a direct result of this training, a noticeable increase in seizures of counterfeit vehicle parts was achieved compared with the same period the previous year," an ABF spokesman said.
"There is a tendency in the community to view counterfeit goods as harmless or victimless crimes but this is misleading.
"Counterfeit vehicle parts, particularly those designed for emergency response, for example brake pads or airbags, pose significant safety risks and these consumer and broader community impacts can be significant and sometimes fatal."
The FCAI and Toyota have held virtual IP Rights Brand Protection and Detection training through 2020-21 to inform ABF officers of the threat posed by counterfeit vehicle parts.
In addition, critical tools and information for the identification of both legitimate and counterfeit vehicle parts was provided to enable ABF officers to more easily differentiate goods suspected of being counterfeit from legitimate ones before they reach Australian roads.
Mr Weber said the industry was committed to working with governments to stem the flow of illegal and dangerous fake parts entering Australia.
"Every counterfeit vehicle part seized is a win for Australian drivers. We are taking the fight to these counterfeit criminals and we are getting results.
"Our engagement with the Department of Home Affairs and the ABF is an example of the importance of an ongoing collaborative relationship between the car industry and Government."
Counterfeit spark plugs capable of causing massive engine damage were the most recent part added to the list of fakes encountered by Genuine is Best.
Other dangerous parts 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.
Mr Weber said the global counterfeit vehicle part market had a bumper 2020.
In the United Arab Emirates more than 300,000 counterfeit automobile parts were seized during 2020 with 21 raids conducted throughout the year confiscating fakes with a value of $A3.6 million.
In China a special task force recently arrested 60 suspects engaged in making counterfeit car parts, seizing 50,000 items and 32 production moulds with a value estimated at more than $A20m.
In the US, the Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council estimates the financial impact of counterfeit auto parts at more than $A1.3 billion and growing rapidly.
Across the border in Canada, local Crime Stopper organisations are appealing to the public for leads on counterfeit parts with the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network estimating the domestic market for fakes to exceed $A20 billion every year.