Identifying Fake NGK Spark Plugs

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Huckleberry
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I figure I would put a little PSA out there about identifying fake NGK spark plugs. There is already information out there, but some of it is outdated as these clowns try to make a better copies (in looks, not performance). This is a comparison between TR5IX plugs I picked up on eBay for $38 shipped and plugs I bought at Advance Auto for $54 after a $5 rewards coupon and a 25% discount. So, the price difference isn't that drastic. Here is the ad on eBay:

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For anyone who has spent ten minutes on the internet before, the ad does look suspect. Typically, anything that is advertised as "USA shipping" or puts the word "For" in front of the item your looking to buy should be avoided. However, as you will see, they did use real NGK plugs for the pictures. It should be noted that these plugs are also sold on Amazon.

The sad thing is that the average person isn't going to have another set of NGK plugs to compare the fakes against, and if you just have these plugs in your hands, you may not know the difference. However, the subterfuge disappears quickly when you do have a real set to compare against. For the following pictures, the real NGKs are on the left and the fakes are on the right.

The logo is much larger and the entire box is much brighter on the left. Notice how the spark plug on the fake box has a blue tint to it, and the color transitions aren't nearly as defined:
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The dead giveaway is the letter spacing of the model number. The real box has the letters much more condensed and the fakes have gaps that you could kick a field goal through. The "NGK" is a much brighter red on the real box, and the bar code itself is larger. The font for "Iridium IX" is also different.
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The back of the boxes show further distinctions. The fake box's white background looks like an undershirt that was never separated for laundry day. The wording in the bottom right is completely different, as well.
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Stark bar code differences, and the real box's colors are much brighter with the transitions much more clearly defined.
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The smaller plug box is no different, with the fake plug completely washed in blue.
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The same letter spacing carried onto the smaller box. Notice the letter spacing in the ad's pictures matches the spacing of the real NGKs.
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Bar code and font differences. Again, not something you would pick up on without having a real version to compare to.
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More subtle differences.
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Onto the plugs themselves. The cardboard sleeve isn't a dead giveaway as I has just installed some TR6IXs from Advance in the GTO, and they had cardboard sleeves. However, the printing is definitely much more distinct on the real plug. Also, NGK has replaced "NGK Japan" on the hex with "Assembled in the US from Japanese parts."
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The plug ends on the real NGKs are definitely a higher quality with much better defined transitions.
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True NGKs have a noticeable dimple, whereas the fakes do not:
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Here is where things get critical. Look at the difference between the true NGK iridium tip and the fake iridium tip. One of the major benefits of iridium plugs is the narrow electrode. I would also highly doubt that the tip is actually iridium. Another critical difference is the length of the ceramic insulator. Both plugs are supposed to be the same heat range, but the fake's insulator length would suggest that it is a colder plug than a true TR5IX. It looks like it could be a heat range of 6 or possibly even 7. Further down, you can see the difference in quality of the thread cuts and the taper seats.
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The ground electrodes are completely different in shape and size, as well.
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Where the ceramic inserts into the hex, you can see the real NGKs have a powder whereas the fakes have a sloppy sealant of some sort. The sloppiness wasn't on all of the fake plugs, but the powder wasn't on any of them.
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So, there is my comparison between the two. I've seen a couple videos and other posts highlighting differences, but I figured I would add to the collection using plugs that I acquired in 2021. Having just the fakes in your hand, not many people would know the difference. Hopefully, this will help people verify if their plug is authentic or not. I would say that your safest bet is to get your plugs from a trusted source such as Rock Auto, Advance, O'Reilly's, etc. However, I would still caution to double check the plugs you get, because I wouldn't put it beyond someone to buy real plugs and return the fakes just to have the parts store toss them back on the shelf for the next person to buy.
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I buy dealer replacement plugs and filters most times, but this is a good reminder to keep a watchful eye on websites for knock-off goods. Thanks for the heads up!
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:dafuq: :disgust: :disappoint:

I hate this kind of shit. If you're going to make cheap knockoffs, fine (we all know that intellectual property laws are tough to enforce)... but passing it off as real is a :jackass: move.
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Interesting write up, would read again. The internet can be a shady place.
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troyguitar wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 10:52 am :dafuq: :disgust: :disappoint:

I hate this kind of shit. If you're going to make cheap knockoffs, fine (we all know that intellectual property laws are tough to enforce)... but passing it off as real is a :jackass: move.
Yeah, that's the biggest issue is that they are being passed off as the real thing, and even using real plugs in their advertisements. An unsuspecting person would just think they are getting a good deal when they have the potential of causing significant engine damage.
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I think it’s impressive how closely they copied them. :wtf:

This isn’t a $12k Chanel purse it’s a $20 spark plug and all that effort wow
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max225 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 2:28 pm I think it’s impressive how closely they copied them. :wtf:

This isn’t a $12k Chanel purse it’s a $20 spark plug and all that effort wow
There's more scrutiny on fancy things. But it's the low cost high margin things that get hit the worst because there's little scrutiny. $38 for spark plugs that cost $5 maybe is a ton of margin if they can really penetrate the market. And people buy them because they think they're getting a good deal compared to $54. Granted, the real ones cost way more to produce, but people wouldn't likely know the difference until their engine is toast...at which point there's a myriad of things to blame and the spark plugs are likely low on the list. These scumbags can do this with minimal to no repercussions, and that's the worst part.

I've heard Amazon is flooded with fakes like this and the warehouses can't even distinguish between real and fake so a lot of the stuff you get from Amazon has a high likelihood of being fake. I go straight to the producer now, if possible.
Desertbreh wrote: Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:40 pm My guess would be that Chris took some time off because he has read the dialogue on this page 1,345 times and decided to spend some of his free time doing something besides beating a horse to death.
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[user not found] wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 3:15 pm This is the second time I’ve seen this pop up in the last year on a forum I frequent - and worrying.

I bought my last set of NGK spark plugs thru Amir @ KNA for the R53.
The most worrying is that even reputable retailers can't tell the difference. Once these things get into the distribution channels, it's immensely tough to weed them out.
Desertbreh wrote: Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:40 pm My guess would be that Chris took some time off because he has read the dialogue on this page 1,345 times and decided to spend some of his free time doing something besides beating a horse to death.
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max225 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 2:28 pm I think it’s impressive how closely they copied them. :wtf:

This isn’t a $12k Chanel purse it’s a $20 spark plug and all that effort wow
The problem is that they only copied the look and the critical stuff such as materials, electrode, and heat range are nowhere near the same level, which can cause significant engine damage.

It's kind of like the 1998 "Psycho." They basically copied the original 1960 version shot-for-shot, but they left out the critical details such as being directed by Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins that made the original film stand the test of time.
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Huckleberry wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:05 pm
max225 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 2:28 pm I think it’s impressive how closely they copied them. :wtf:

This isn’t a $12k Chanel purse it’s a $20 spark plug and all that effort wow
The problem is that they only copied the look and the critical stuff such as materials, electrode, and heat range are nowhere near the same level, which can cause significant engine damage.

It's kind of like the 1998 "Psycho." They basically copied the original 1960 version shot-for-shot, but they left out the critical details such as being directed by Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins that made the original film stand the test of time.
They copy the things that are easy/cheap to copy, then use garbage materials where you can't see to keep the cost low.
Desertbreh wrote: Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:40 pm My guess would be that Chris took some time off because he has read the dialogue on this page 1,345 times and decided to spend some of his free time doing something besides beating a horse to death.
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Detroit wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:40 pm
max225 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 2:28 pm I think it’s impressive how closely they copied them. :wtf:

This isn’t a $12k Chanel purse it’s a $20 spark plug and all that effort wow
There's more scrutiny on fancy things. But it's the low cost high margin things that get hit the worst because there's little scrutiny. $38 for spark plugs that cost $5 maybe is a ton of margin if they can really penetrate the market. And people buy them because they think they're getting a good deal compared to $54. Granted, the real ones cost way more to produce, but people wouldn't likely know the difference until their engine is toast...at which point there's a myriad of things to blame and the spark plugs are likely low on the list. These scumbags can do this with minimal to no repercussions, and that's the worst part.

I've heard Amazon is flooded with fakes like this and the warehouses can't even distinguish between real and fake so a lot of the stuff you get from Amazon has a high likelihood of being fake. I go straight to the producer now, if possible.
And the reviews are for shit anymore...... Used to be they were a useful tool now they cannot be trusted....

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56069472
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Irish wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 6:13 pm
Detroit wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:40 pm
There's more scrutiny on fancy things. But it's the low cost high margin things that get hit the worst because there's little scrutiny. $38 for spark plugs that cost $5 maybe is a ton of margin if they can really penetrate the market. And people buy them because they think they're getting a good deal compared to $54. Granted, the real ones cost way more to produce, but people wouldn't likely know the difference until their engine is toast...at which point there's a myriad of things to blame and the spark plugs are likely low on the list. These scumbags can do this with minimal to no repercussions, and that's the worst part.

I've heard Amazon is flooded with fakes like this and the warehouses can't even distinguish between real and fake so a lot of the stuff you get from Amazon has a high likelihood of being fake. I go straight to the producer now, if possible.
And the reviews are for shit anymore...... Used to be they were a useful tool now they cannot be trusted....

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56069472
I don't really read reviews online anymore, they're pretty much all :bs:

it's sad.
Desertbreh wrote: Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:40 pm My guess would be that Chris took some time off because he has read the dialogue on this page 1,345 times and decided to spend some of his free time doing something besides beating a horse to death.
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Damn! Really good info.

On the note of Amazon reviews, I've been offered discounts on future purchases for positive reviews, coupe that with review farming and it's hard.

They're not all bad, some with photos are legit and are good info.
4zilch wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:46 am I'm a fucking failure.
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Melon wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 9:12 pm Damn! Really good info.

On the note of Amazon reviews, I've been offered discounts on future purchases for positive reviews, coupe that with review farming and it's hard.

They're not all bad, some with photos are legit and are good info.
I've been offered :fullretard: things to remove bad reviews from amazon. Free replacement products PLUS money, more money than the product cost, etc.

If bad reviews are eliminated, then the overall review score is worthless.
Desertbreh wrote: Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:40 pm My guess would be that Chris took some time off because he has read the dialogue on this page 1,345 times and decided to spend some of his free time doing something besides beating a horse to death.
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Like I said, there are real reviews on there, jus have to look.

Also, most people review a product out of the box, occasionally there will be a long term review, and those are still of value.
4zilch wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:46 am I'm a fucking failure.
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Detroit wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 10:07 am
Melon wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 9:12 pm Damn! Really good info.

On the note of Amazon reviews, I've been offered discounts on future purchases for positive reviews, coupe that with review farming and it's hard.

They're not all bad, some with photos are legit and are good info.
I've been offered :fullretard: things to remove bad reviews from amazon. Free replacement products PLUS money, more money than the product cost, etc.

If bad reviews are eliminated, then the overall review score is worthless.
Not Amazon, but happened to me on a used vinyl buying site. Ordered a record from the UK, seller had listed the record and the cover both in Near Mint condition. When it finally showed up, the records were covered in dust/debris (no scratches though and it played fine, so I let that slide and just cleaned it off myself) and the cover was bent to hell. Every corner had a sharp crease and it was so bad that I expected the records to be cracked. Left a review commenting on it and said that the cover should have been graded as Good or Very Good at best. Within an hour the seller was blowing me up and refunded my purchase on PayPal expecting me to change my review. Wtf.
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Just to add to this, I decided to weigh each individual plug in one of the 4-packs. The real NGKs all weighed in at 40 grams.
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Three of the fake plugs weighed in at 39 grams, and one of them weighed in at 38 grams.
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This isn't to say that all authentic NGK plugs will weigh in at 40 grams, but it does suggest that all authentic NGK plugs will have a consistent weight.

I also contacted NGK, and they were able to verify the counterfeits over the phone using the 4 digit code on the hex. The counterfeits have the code "C9YA." NGK said they are definitely counterfeit because the C stands for "China," and none of their US market plugs have that designation. The authentic plugs have the code V111, indicating that they are made in Virginia. NGK said that the plugs can come from Japan, the US, or Taiwan, but never China. So, if you have NGK plugs with a "Cxxx" code stamped on the hex, it is a dead giveaway to being fake.
 
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Melon wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 11:35 am Like I said, there are real reviews on there, jus have to look.

Also, most people review a product out of the box, occasionally there will be a long term review, and those are still of value.
:dat:

Most reviews are basically a JD Power initial quality assessment.

"Initially, this product isn't a piece of shit. 5 stars."
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