As an auto enthusiast, it’s easy to be tempted by deals for OEM-style wheels that cost a fraction what the dealer or authorized reseller may be asking. But there are often good reasons why you should consider paying the premium for genuine wheels, as highlighted in this video from Mercedes-Benz.
The automaker’s Australian division together with General Motors Company subsidiary Holden recently took part in a test comparing the performance of the fake wheels, often labeled as replica or reproduction wheels, with the genuine stuff. The test was conducted by an independent automotive industry body, using fake Mercedes-Benz wheels purchased from an online retailer.
The test was a pothole impact, which saw the fake wheels break apart at speeds as low as 50kmh (31 mph). 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.
And it’s not just the vehicle occupants at harm. When the fake wheels broke apart, sharp metal shards were flung off at high-speed, potentially putting passers-by at risk.
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Fake wheels are usually developed with the lowest costs in mind, meaning the manufacturing processes and materials used tend to be the cheapest available. The wheels, which are copied from genuine designs, are often also modified to fit a wide variety of vehicles they were not originally intended for, by changing offsets, wheel widths, etc., and this too can have an impact on their strength and durability. Finally, fake wheels rarely go through the vigorous research and development phase that genuine products face, hence the results you see here.
Worryingly, it’s not just wheels that are being faked. Other key safety-related components such as airbags, brakes, lights and tires are also being produced by counterfeiters.