Fake FIA Harnesses
It has come to the attention of the AASA that there are a significant number of fake harnesses for sale on eBay and other on-line stores.
Most of these harnesses are marketed as being well-known brands, such as Sparco, Takata or Sabelt, but others may also exist. The harnesses appear genuine, but are copies made by unapproved manufacturers. These copies have not been tested, are frequently made from inferior materials, and are likely to fail at substantially lower speeds than the genuine belts.
How to tell:
- All FIA spec harnesses made since the start of 2013 (expiry dates 2018 or later) must have a transparent FIA hologram sewn onto at least one of the shoulder straps. These labels are supplied to the manufacturers by the FIA and are expensive and difficult to reproduce. If there is no hologram and the expiry is 2018 or later, it is a fake.
- The homologation number is often incorrect. A correct homologation number looks like:
There must be a space between the FIA and the D (or B or C), and a single dash between the D and the homologation number. There must be a dot between the homologation number and the T (or B) and a forward slash to the 98. If there are missing spaces, dashes or points, it is a fake. Most of the dodgy numbers are D-120 and D-124 homologations. The number FIA D-120.T/98 is a genuine number for a TRW/Sabelt harness, but only if used by the original manufacturer.
- The “D” in the homologation number specifies a 6-strap belt. A “C” represents a 5-strap belt and a “B”, a 4-strap belt. If you are offered a 4 or 5 strap belt with a “D” number, it is a fake.
Where the upper harness is used in multiple configurations (4, 5 or 6-strap) it will have three different homologation numbers, one for each of B, C and D.
- Physical Differences:
- The fake harnesses may use different stitching at the ends compared to the genuine one. However, as different manufacturer use different stitching it is not possible to generalise on this. In the case of the D-120 and D-124 homologations, the fakes have multiple crossed stitches whereas the original has only have a single cross:
- Buckles: The buckles will often not click in properly, and are prone to partial engagement and subsequent release. The mechanism can also feel flimsy and be poorly finished.
- The manufacturer’s labels may be an out of date design.
If you have bought one of these belts, try to return it to the eBay supplier. They are, whether knowingly or not, committing fraud and can face legal action. Should someone be killed or injured by the failure of one of these belts the likelihood of jail for the seller is high, not to mention the potential for litigation.
These are not isolated cases. The first five results returned after a recent eBay search by the AASA under Sabelt Harnesses were all fakes; being 4-strap harnesses with the 6-strap “D” homologation. AASA has notified eBay about several of the belts, but the scope of the problem is enormous.
If you have purchased a harness from an on-line seller in the past two years, please check it. Scrutineers will be looking for them. Fakes will not be accepted at Scrutiny and your car will be rejected.
One of the awful consequences of these harnesses is that our genuine suppliers with original equipment for sale are being pushed out of the market. No bricks and mortar seller with a $450 genuine harness can compete against the $150 fakes from dodgy suppliers.