No doubt you have seen these items that have started to grow over the last few years, appearing with online accessory sites, plus Ebay & Amazon etc. Now we are not saying they are all “iffy” components but if the price seems to be too good to be true it usually is. Do bear in mind you don’t always need the best in everything fitted to your motor and there are genuine bargains out there too, just use your common when purchasing.
We have been talking to suppliers and customers alike who have all noted very similar products to the branded items that are a fraction of the price, but when it comes to quality and durability then that is where the dubious products become an expensive mistake.
The well known online site Alibaba.com is full of 4×4 components manufactured in China and on sale to business’ world wide with costs as much as a third less than a branded product from the likes of ARB, Warn or Pro Comp, and that is to name just three respected manufacturers.
Although the Chinese work ethics cannot be doubted, their quality testing and copyright laws are another issue altogether no longer attributed just to Nike trainers and knock off electrical goods, but to components that your safety could rely on with your 4×4.
We thought it was a subject worth researching from the tails we have picked up on, and here are some of or findings relating to a varying range of components;
Failing roof clamps, thin powder coating that rust shows through in 12 months, thin metal that bends when walked on, cracking weld points, not even square to the roof. Would you risk your gear fitted to something as substandard as this?
LED lighting is the new big copy item for the 4×4 accessory, tales we have heard talk of brittle cases splitting, led elements failing, breaking/rusting mounting brackets and water ingress that is fatal to the light.
HI LIFT JACKS;
A crucial part of your off road kit, again we hear reports of mechanical jamming, unable to lower, and even shearing critical components of the jack causing the vehicle to drop to the floor. Not a risk worth taking for a few quid saving.
The winch is one of your most important bits of recovery gear especially if you travel solo and are an adventurer, a cheap equivalent is not an option. Although many winches look the same it is all about the inside, machined components not cast, the wiring, the connectors, the synthetic winch rope or cable itself. Horror stories we picked up on were, electrical fires, wiring & motor burnouts, metal component failures and heavy rusting.
The humble Snorkel just looks like a piece of plastic or metal tube fitted to the side of the vehicle and clamped at the top of the windscreen. There is a little more to it though, a critical component that keeps water and reduces dust from entering the vehicles engine air intake port. We have been shown plastic snorkels that are full of small pinholes due to impurities in the moulded plastic processing. Metal fittings and tubing as thick as a soft drinks can with no weather proofing coatings, one “kit” came with no fixings or fitting instructions!
The list goes on, from portable air compressors, synthetic winch ropes to direct copies of ARB air lockers and bull bars. From our research we were amazed at what is now bleightantly copied by these companies to give the impression of branded products right down to one letter difference in the logo.
Our advice as usual would be to do your research before handing over that hard earned cash, check the warranties and more importantly the small print, unbelievably, we picked up on a roof rack guarantee that stated was void if the item was used outside!! …
Personally, I don’t use my Defender indoors, as it buggers the carpets …