A branded xenon lamp for 15 euros or dollars, or original headlights in LED technology for a hundred euros or dollars – it’s not only online shops that offer them. Normally, parts with such ridiculously low prices are counterfeit. Apart from your own suspicion there are a few tips that will help you spot them.

The risk of getting fake products isn’t that small. Counterfeit products not only get to Europe in container loads as t-shirts bearing crocodiles or as handbags from Milan’s premium outfitters. Now and again, customs officers confiscate such batches, and they have been known to have found among their “prey” tens of thousands of headlight lamps labeled as big brands. If you dig deeper into the trade routes of such goods, you will find offers on the internet for 100 H4 lamps for under 50 euros or dollars. On request, suppliers offer a “label of your choice”.

The geometry is the most common problem.

Unlike clothes or handbags, counterfeit brand lamps are often not very useful. They emit light – true. Somehow, somewhere. The geometry is the most common problem. The filaments are not so accurately positioned that the headlight can deliver precise light distribution. Sometimes – and if at least enough light comes out of the lamp – you can compensate for geometrical errors using headlight adjustment. Only, it costs more than the savings made when you buy the lamps. Generally, however, at these prices nobody can expect an even remotely similar quality to what for instance Osram would guarantee. Every single one of their halogen lamps has to light up five times during the production process to pass through quality assurance.

White packaging rarely contains genuine products.

But how can you spot questionable products? A clear trigger for suspicion is an extremely low price, of course. A xenon lamp from a brand manufacturer such as Osram is not available for the price of two good halogen lamps. And an H7 for one euro or dollar has never seen the inside of a reputable producer’s factory. Anyone who still orders one of these products often gets them in neutral white packaging. This is an unmistakable sign that it contains a counterfeit product. While there have actually been genuine parts in these boxes on the market, they were products that changed hand illegally somewhere along the line. That didn’t make the purchase any better.

There are also grounds for suspicion if the seller points out the absence of original packaging and justifies it with it being a bulk product. Reputable manufacturers of automotive lamps only supply them to headlight producers though, not spare parts retailers.

If you don’t send such a delivery right back but take a look at the lamp itself, you may come across other inconsistencies. Sloppy imprints of the (reputable) brand name on the base of halogen lamps, for example. Or spelling mistakes such as “Oram” or “Phillips”.

Better than returning the fake products is to not even buy them, of course. Fortunately, the lack of seriousness of some deals can be spotted if you’re careful. The big Osram logo with a much smaller “same as” in front of it is such a case. Or “corresponds to Osram”, followed by the number. A lamp that is definitely not real is one where the color temperature is supposed to be 10,000 kelvin.

An online check brings clarity.

Particularly annoying are counterfeit products that cost the same as real ones. Two xenon lamps can amount to a pretty penny. Those who are in doubt about the authenticity of these lamps from Osram can check them using the Trust Program on the internet. Only if the Osram server confirms that different numbers on the packaging and lamps match, is it a genuine product. At the same time the xenon lamp can also be registered for a four-year warranty. You won’t get that from fake products either, by the way.

Better safe than sorry: a few clicks bring clarity as to whether a xenon lamp from Osram is genuine.

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