(WOIO) - Federal investigators say for every real part on a car, there's a counterfeit, and it's definitely not equal. In fact, you could be risking your life with it.
Mechanics know the ins and outs of servicing our cars -- what needs to be fixed and the right parts. But some of them would be hard-pressed to spot a reliable car part from an imitation.
"It's going to be almost impossible, actually, for the consumer to know what they're getting," says mechanic Les Rawdan.
Federal investigators are working to stop a flood of counterfeit car parts. It's become a serious issue.
"We've seen counterfeiting in brake pads. We've seen counterfeiting in safety belts. That becomes a huge concern for us because you're dealing directly with the safety of the people in that car," says Bruce Foucart from the
, a company which protects trademarks.
Airbags are just one example of the dangers that knockoffs pose. A fake airbag can cause serious injury, even death.
Mechanics say you might save money with a cheap and counterfeit part, but you're rolling the dice.
Rawdan says the best way to protect yourself from possible imitation parts is to find the right shop. Reputable repair shops only use reputable parts from major parts houses or the automaker.
"If you deal beyond that, you probably don't know what you're getting," says Rawdan.
Many of these counterfeit parts are sold online. The IPR Coordination Center investigates each claim that comes in from either companies or consumers.