A set of fake wheels on sale in Australia have been shown to dangerously disintegrate at just 50km/h in testing. The test was carried out by the Australian automotive industry and saw Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific and GM Holden team up to demonstrate to consumers the serious safety risks that can be associated with fake parts.
Using imitation Mercedes-Benz wheels purchased online from an Australian-based seller, engineers set out to compare them to genuine wheels in an impact test.
The test was a pothole test, which saw fake wheels break apart at just 50km/h. This occurred in separate tests, one in which the point of impact was close to a spoke and one where the point of impact was midway between the spokes. Under the same tests, the genuine wheels sustained no visible damage.
"The genuine wheels performed safely under the same test and didn't receive any visible damage while the fake wheels disintegrated at just 50km/h. This is the speed limit for residential areas in most parts of Australia," Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Chief Executive and Genuine Is Best spokesperson Tony Weber said.
"To make matters worse, when the fake wheels broke apart, sharp metal shards were flung off and landed many metres away, potentially putting passers-by at risk."
Mercedes-Benz Australia Senior Engineer for Engineering, Certification and Testing Timothy Clarke said the low speed at which disintegration occurred was concerning.
"Travelling at 50km/h is a real-world speed and you can easily see people encountering this situation. A piece of rim breaking away is not only dangerous for the people in the car but also for those on the side of the road considering how far the piece flew. Based on those sorts of results I wouldn't want to put those rims on my car," Mr Clarke said.
Mr Weber said that it was horrifying to think what would happen if these wheels were on a family car that hit a pothole at highway speeds.
"You would have had an absolute tragedy if this breakage happened with a family on board at highway speeds. And the truth is these wheels could very well be on a family car on Australian roads - when we bought these wheels we discovered they were part of a larger shipment so there are more dangerous wheels exactly like this in the country, and possibly already on cars.
"And think about this, once they are on a car and then that car is sold second-hand, how would the new owner know or even suspect that these were dangerous fake wheels?"
Mr Weber said the decision was made to highlight wheels through this test because they are a common and easy part of a vehicle for car owners to change.
"Wheels are such a popular part for consumers to replace, whether it's to make their car look sportier or to personalise it. But what people need to remember is that while different wheels change the look, they could also change the car's safety performance," Mr Weber said.
"And this is more than just about wheels - your car is built with genuine parts. Genuine parts are tested by the maker of your car for quality and safety. So when it comes to replacing any of them it's vital to do so with a genuine part.
"Just recently we had the oil filter and airbag cable alerts - the Australian automotive industry is in a constant battle with counterfeiters and their potentially dangerous parts.
"We are urging Australians - please don't risk it. It might be tempting to buy a set of cheap imitation wheels but don't be conned - it's not worth it. The way you can be totally sure you're getting a genuine part is to buy it through the vehicle maker's authorised supply chain."
For further information, contact:
Richard Berry, Account Manager
Genuine Is Best
02 8908 8876 / 0421 920 728
Sheena Ireland, Communications Manager
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries
02 6229 8221 / 0458 038 555