Beware the dangers of buying counterfeit or replica wheels

There’s nothing cooler or more gratifying than getting a new set of wheels for your prized possession. It improves the visual appeal and improves overall driveability/road holding.

Peel back a layer, and you’ll discover that not all (alloy) wheels are original or even safe for fitment. The truth is that counterfeit car parts and accessories, including alloy wheels, are flooding the market. It is most likely a fake if you see a branded wheel for sale at a low price and Googling the price of an original wheel will most likely confirm this.

OEM wheels are manufactured to exact quality and safety standards, ensuring that alloy wheels can withstand the rigours of South Africa’s harsh driving conditions.

Testing has revealed that counterfeit or replica wheels are far inferior in quality. They can sometimes barely support the vehicle’s unloaded weight, let alone any additional passengers or extra baggage. Subpar engineering usually results in either cheap, second-rate raw materials or simply insufficient material in critical structural regions of the wheel, rendering it unsuitable for real-world driving.

While the wheel may look nice, it might not be safe at all and your safety (and those of your passengers) is immediately put at risk.

Gumtree and TiAuto Investments have compiled a list of ways for the general public to distinguish between the genuine and the dangerous when purchasing a set of wheels:

  • Price –  If it’s too good to be true, it is exactly that. If you know a set of wheels costs around R20 000, and you see it being advertised for half the price or less, your alarm bells should be ringing (unless the seller really is desperate to sell). Also consider WHERE its being marketed – Some digital sales platforms / market places are easy prey for unsuspecting consumers.
  • Branding – If the branding is not applied to the set of wheels, or is provided separately, you should steer well-clear. This is one of the biggest tells. Unscrupulous counterfeit dealers will give you decal stickers of respected brands to apply at home. This is done in a misguided attempt to evade prosecution for trademark infringement.
  • Heavier – Replica wheels are created with lower-cost materials and manufacturing procedures in order to save money. The result of this is a wheel that looks genuine on the eye but is significantly heavier and weaker. The severe regulations of car manufacturers are not followed by replica producers.
  • Part number(s) – OEM products will always have some sort of part number identification (number) that is usually found on the inside of the wheel or along the inner lip. Replica wheels will most likely not have any of these, making it easy to identify as a fake.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local service information close to home.

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