Spot Counterfeit Parts Like a Pro: 5 Tell-Tale Signs to Look For

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If you are selling auto parts online, you should be aware of a scam that’s going on. A “customer” purchases a legitimate part from your shop and returns a counterfeit part in its place. They get a refund, and then they sell the legitimate part to someone else.

Counterfeit auto parts are everywhere. You can find them on eBay, Amazon, Alibaba, and Craigslist and other online markets. Some legitimate online shops are even selling a few counterfeit parts without knowing.


If you accidentally resell counterfeit parts you can damage your brand and lose money if a customer returns the part. To prevent this, you have to inspect all returned parts and make sure they are genuine before restocking them. The 5 biggest signs of a counterfeit part are:

1. Poorly or Incorrectly Printed Packaging

Many, if not all, major auto manufacturers offer OEM parts in high-quality packaging. A counterfeit part may turn up in a package that’s made with low-quality materials and/or printed incorrectly.

If you have more of that same part on the shelf, grab one and compare its packaging to the returned part.

2. Missing Part Number on the Package

Many OEM manufacturers print the part number, or the first section of the part number directly on the package. Counterfeiters usually print the whole part number on a sticker, so they can use one box for several different parts. Compare the returned package with a part in your inventory.

3. Typos

Scammers don’t have a team of professional writers and proofreaders. So there may be misspellings on the package or on the instructions inside.

4. Incorrect or Incomplete Instructions

Make sure the set of instructions matches the instructions in a legitimate package. Even just a missing sentence is a huge red flag.

5. The Part Doesn’t Look or Feel Quite Right

Some scammers are returning a counterfeit part in a legitimate package. So you should always check the part, too. Compare it to a real part in your inventory. Look for imperfections and differences in weight, color, and design.


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