Be careful of counterfeit Clocksprings / Spiral Cables sold online

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by 3prongpaul, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

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    Consumer note; almost all the Clocksprings aka Spiral Cables sold online are Chinese counterfeits. They look similar to Genuine Toyota but have a price "too good to be true". Many sellers even have Toyota part number stickers and/or boxes so they appear genuine. Almost all of them are fake. Was a big problem in Australia, now it's a problem in North America.

    Toyota on trail of fake airbags - motoring.com.au

    Best to purchase direct from a genuine dealer, more expensive but it's important to have this quality part in your car. The fake ones don't last and may not work when you need them most (accident requiring airbag deployment).

    What is the clockspring?
    It's a spiral electrical cable behind the steering wheel airbag that passes signals and allows the steering wheel buttons, cruise control, horn, and steering wheel airbag to function even though the steering wheel turns.
     
    #1 3prongpaul, Feb 3, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
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  2. andrewclaus

    andrewclaus Active Member

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    Good idea to post this. I went the cheap route a couple of years ago and so far have lucked out--it's working. But it was obviously a poor copy--I had to work with small tools realigning some bent prongs in one of the plugs to get them to mate up. The original prongs were of superior quality. That was the only visible difference.

    The SRS plugs seemed to be of decent quality on my copy, and there's a redundant set, so at least I feel safe in that regard. But I've read of others having to replace the cable again due to an SRS code, so there is a major concern there as well.
     
  3. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

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    One concern is that while the counterfeit clockspring can pass enough electricity for the Airbag ECU to confirm the airbag is hooked up, it may not be able to deliver an appropriate amount of current to actually blow the airbag when needed. I don't know of a way to test this.

    For example, these are most likely fake even thought the seller says they are OEM www.ebayitem.com/281716543382
     
  4. Dion Kraft

    Dion Kraft Member

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    DId you message this eBAY vendor that his part is not OEM?
     
    #4 Dion Kraft, Feb 4, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
  5. 1stGuage

    1stGuage New Member

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    Its a Ribbon Cable.. About 10ft of it.. do you think there's a Chinese company that invested millions of dollars (Yaun?) in ribbon cable production equipment to make ribbon cables that don't work ?
    No..
    I'm a Bodyman of 45 yrs experience, I just put a $10 Spiral Cable/ Clock spring on a Prius I own.

    If the airbag check light routine happens and the light goes out your airbags will work properly.
    That's my position and I'm sticking to it.

    When was the last time you brought a Chinese ribbon cable for a computer, and it didn't work.. that would be one rare event..
    Now..
    What if your computer ran a diagnostic on your Ribbon cable and said it was okay... then do you think that it might be a rare event if it did not work ?

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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  6. 3prongpaul

    3prongpaul Hybrid Shop Owner, worked on 100's of Prius's

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    Another problem with the cheap/counterfeit clocksprings is they are simply crappy quality. The ribbon cable in a clockspring moves with every turn of the steering wheel. A ribbon cable in your computer is stationary.

    We've installed dozens of clocksprings in Prii over the years, the OEM ones will last 8 years or more, the Chinese ones can fail in less than a year (radio buttons, horn etc stop working). Some we tried were even dead out of the box. If you are an individual and want to try the fake ones and save money go ahead, but there is no way they are identical to the OEM ones in quality and reliability so realize you'll likely be replacing it again.

    The original point of this thread is that cheap ones (even in a "Toyota box") that sell for 80-90% less than your local dealer are not real so don't assume they will function in the same way.
     
  7. 1stGuage

    1stGuage New Member

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    You mark up your parts to your customers ?
    25%?
    35% ?
    That's, normal & correct to do.

    I'm retired now, but in my days in the shop.. choice between marking up $170 part or $10 part..

    Yupp.. which one would I want to put in the car.
    Completely understandable, profit is not a dirty word.
    without profit, we would not have Commerce.
    And there is some validity to your point that 'maybe' the higher price part will last longer.
    I just don't think there's enough to these things.. they are actually less complicated than a ballpoint pen and...the reality is... ribbon cable is ribbon cable is ribbon cable.
    And.. on top of all that, the device is checked every time you start your car.



    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
  8. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    My experience buying "too good to be true" door lock actuators for a Gen 1 from eBay was similar. Only $16, way cheaper than $200ish for the Toyota one, though I ended up buying three to get one that worked.

    The ones that didn't work, didn't not-work in a way you'd right away notice. They made the doors lock and unlock. They just made the alarm go off at times you wouldn't expect, and broke the window-roll-up-down-with-the-key feature that probably only a handful of owners knew about anyway, and broke the feature where the car alerts you when the doors aren't all solidly locked.

    On dissection, the cause of the problem was actuators flat-out built without one of the two internal metal pieces, missing from the place where it obviously goes.

    [​IMG]

    It is amazing the amount of stuff the Chinese counterfeit market is able to produce. I mean look at this thing, weird shape, custom molding, fitting a very limited number of cars, who could imagine making a profit tooling up a counterfeit shop to make that? Yet gobs of things like that are in the counterfeit stream.

    For some parts (I don't know about these specifically), I suspect a pretty simple explanation, that the 'official' vendor is sourcing from a Chinese factory anyway, and when the factory is done running the number of parts officially ordered, they just keep running the line some, but with no quality control. Or they just collect the units that were rejected for QA reasons during the official run. These go out to the network of eBay sellers.

    There, it's just a numbers game. Some of them are fine. Some aren't fine, but the purchaser won't notice, or won't notice right away, either because it's a longevity issue and takes a while to show up, or causes a problem that doesn't seem obviously related. (In the case of the defective lock actuator, maybe you notice that now you have to push the unlock fob button twice instead of once to get in the car, or the alarm honks, but do you connect that to the lock actuator you just replaced, which seems to lock and unlock the door just fine, or do you just think "great, now something's weird with my theft alarm too"?)

    For the small number of customers that notice a problem and correctly recognize it as a defect in the part, of course the eBay seller will eat the cost and send another one. The next one might work, or the one after that. To the seller, who is selling what would otherwise be scrap and letting you be the QA team, it's just a cost of doing business, and eBay seems to be fine with that. On the eBay site, there are ways to report problems with a seller, and they will all go as far as did you buy the thing?, did the seller replace or refund the thing?, ok then what possible problem is there?. In their contact info and their automated reporting forms, there is simply no way of telling them that a vendor is knowingly selling a whole stock of flaky parts and just using refunds when caught.

    Talking with a colleague about this a couple years ago, he had encountered somewhere a further insight, that these factories don't have to have just a binary run-with-QA / run-without-QA choice, but actually have developed the statistical methods to choose a price point they want to hit, and back off the QA standards to just that point, when making the 'unofficial' runs.

    That applies to the kind of parts that are definitely made by the same supplier the OEM uses (something to keep in mind when hearing "the part from Toyota is made by XYZ, so if you buy the XYZ brand it's exactly the same"). But of course there are just plain counterfeits too; my door actuators had some clear differences in materials from the Toyota one, so I suspect they were a copy design built elsewhere, and not just an extra run by the same producer.

    There's a specialized instrument called a Low Resistance Ohmmeter (searched for as a complete phrase, it'll turn some up). Just like there are megohmmeters specialized for using extra-high voltage to measure super high resistances, these instruments are specialized for the other extreme where you want the resistance to be super low, and use a substantial current to test it, not just a few milliamps.

    -Chap
     
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  9. 1stGuage

    1stGuage New Member

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    You DO know, right now, the actual toyota factory clock springs are made in both China & Mexico depending on model + columns , Right?

    ( of the two, I'd hope 4 a Chinese one)

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
  10. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Paragraphs 8 and 9 in the exact post you quoted addressed that already.
     
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  11. donbright

    donbright Active Member

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    I am grateful from the warning..I only wanted the part for to fix my intermittent cruise control and right hand side buttons on the steering wheel not working... now im wondering if my airbags will go off properly if my clockspring wears out completely?

    These Ebay products did seem to be suspiciously cheap, for something that is life criticial and sells online from my nearby dealer for $229.46, part number 843060E010. . . trying to figure out how someone was able to sell the same "genuine Toyota OEM" part for 30 dollars on ebay.

    The courts recently said that Amazon is liable for faulty third party products. What is interesting is that if you search 843060E010 on Amazon, none of them say "OEM". They say things like "Compatible with" or "OEM part number", but they don't try to pass themselves off as genuine Toyota. And they do not have the Toyota logo or Toyota packaging on the pictures.

    But if you search ebay, a bunch of them do say "Genuine Toyota OEM Japan", and with a picture of a cardboard box with the Toyota logo and the words Toyota Genuine Parts on the box. For $31.72.

    The analogy with computers is good... because cheap knockoff junk computer products have literally killed people by starting fires. So I would imagine the same thing will eventually happen with these things. Airbags will fail to go off, so some of the thousands of people that normally get saved by airbags won't be saved - they will die. I wonder if the police or insurance companies or surviving families will analyze the clockspring mechanism of the steering wheel and determine if it was OEM or not? Maybe if they realize they could sue Ebay and win a huge settlement. ...

    Then again, why did Toyota design the mechanism so that it would wear out after ten years?
     
  12. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Or, how did they manage to design it so it takes all the turning of the steering wheel you can give it for ten years without wearing out?
     
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  13. Anton Moukharski

    Anton Moukharski New Member

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    Really the point is, get an OEM if you have the money, get a GOOD chinese one if not, buying from a site with ratings.
    Also generally I would advise a chinese brand to a fake Toyota brand. Don't know for auto parts, but for backpacks an original chinese brand is often better than a counterfeit
     
  14. AzusaPrius

    AzusaPrius Active Member

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    I got mine from Ebay for $10 and it works just fine.

    Fixed the issues I had with the buttons on steering wheel.

    Glad I saved a lot of money.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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