How to Spot Fake NGK CR9EIX (3521) Iridium IX Spark Plugs 2018


PLEASE NOTE – This article was written a few years ago so not all information provided may be accurate.

For example, on some part numbers, NGK now uses Laser Etching instead of stamping, so the font information may not be accurate.

Another Sparking Discovery

One of NGK’s most popular motorcycle spark plugs has dismally entered the realm of counterfeiting, but we’re here to help! The fake CR9EIX plugs shown next to our genuine CR9EIX stock in this article have been sold by an unlawfully seller many hundreds of times to innocent buyers worldwide, putting a huge amount of risk to all engines and pockets involved. Not only are these fake plugs not manufactured and tested to the same degree of the genuine item, they don’t actually feature any ‘iridium’ centre electrode tip at all!

The con artists involved in the counterfeit supply chain are so irrational it’s staggering, with no care or worries in the world to anyone except their own pockets. Unfortunately for legal reasons we can’t name and shame, but we can once again provide you with photos and pin-pointers on how to spot dodgy ones. Just be aware that there may be other counterfeits around that look slightly different, but the main principles are the same.

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Now We’re Torquing!

When it came to the boxes, the first things we noticed were:

  • The box artwork was different to the one shown in the main listing photo and not the one you’re supposed to receive when buying NGK plugs from the UK. We haven’t taken any photos of the fake outer box because you can’t purchase the genuine version of the same design in the UK, therefore we couldn’t compare the two. It’s looking dodgy already.
  • It gets better, the installation guides on the rear of the inner boxes are for an M14 (14mm) diameter threaded spark plug, not M10 (10mm) that CR9EIX features!
  • The cardboard used is much thicker than the genuine boxes (inner and outer ones).
  • The weight of the 4x pack of genuine CR9EIX spark plugs on our digital scales was 145g, the fake plugs were 155g.

As stated above, the illustrations on the rear show installation procedures for an M14 threaded spark plug. Unfortunately for Mr Counterfeit, CR9EIX spark plugs have an M10 sized thread! This fatal error has already fulfilled our suspicions that they’re indeed fake, and we haven’t even seen the plugs yet!

This is simply one mistake NGK would never make. If you think of how many of these are sold worldwide, you can see where the problem’s heading. The number of damage reports of snapped CR9EIX plugs and damaged engine heads would soar if worldwide customers tightened down M10 spark plugs to M14 specifications. A colossal recall would then pursue as M14 plugs are actually torqued down around twice as much as M10 ones! It’s important to use a torque wrench because under-tightening can cause overheating due to poor heat dissipation and as mentioned, overtightening will cause damage.

Click on photos to enlarge.

chart image source: NGK

M10 (10 mm) threaded plugs with a gasket show just 10-12nm of torque are needed for aluminium heads. Now compare this to an M14 plug, where we see over double the amount: 25-30nm. Torquing down an M10 plug to 30nm will most definitely cause either distortion to the plug and eventually snap into bits, or the cylinder head thread will strip; not good.

The installation guide error on the fakes may cause even more damage if anyone also ends up using thread compound or copper slip. Using such products renders torque readings inaccurate by at least 20% so they should never be used. Modern plugs feature a special zinc coating so they simply don’t need it. NGK released a tech bulletin about this, which you can read in our other article in the link below:

Terminal Cap & Ceramic Insulator

Starting from the terminal cap:

  • The fake’s entire terminal cap is different with far lower quality metal used.
  • The fakes terminal cap shape is pretty accurate, however cast mold lines are visible, unlike the genuine plug.
  • The fakes terminal caps were finger tight, whereas the genuine caps couldn’t be undone by hand and needed pliers.
  • The fake Iridium logo is far bolder with printing errors, it’s also in the wrong position.
  • Fake plugs are known to have air bubbles trapped inside the white ceramic insulator which can affect heat dissipation capability.
  • Fakes are also known to not feature any copper core which means they retain heat and can eventually meltdown, it’s likely to be the same with these fakes.
  • The fake gasket is around 1mm thicker in height (un-crushed).
  • The fake plugs thread protector is 10mm sized, fitting around the thread snuggly. The genuine plug uses an oversized protector for extra protection (we checked this with 8 other CR9EIX plugs from stock).

Main Thread

  • The thread machining on the fake is no match in terms of quality of the genuine one.
  • Small ‘chunks’ and ‘nicks’ have been taken out of the metal thread due to a blunt Dye threading tool.

Centre Electrode

Still not convinced these are fake plugs? One of the best parts of this whole investigation is that we of course found out the fake plugs don’t feature any IRIDIUM tipped centre electrode at all, it’s all LIES.

  • The fake plugs centre electrode looks to be machined down steel that’s been possibly alloyed with nickel. The size is more like 1mm, rather than 0.7mm.
  • The genuine plug does indeed have a laser welded Iridium tip on the end of the centre electrode.
  • We see the colour differences between the two.

Click pic to enlarge.

Ground Electrode

Moving to the utter bottom of the plug we see various differences:

  • The machined quality of the genuine plug is far superior with a much smoother appearance from base to thread.
  • The fake plugs’ ground electrode tip is a completely different shape.
  • From this bottom view, we see the gasket design is completely different.
  • The difference in quality between the two plugs is visible.


We weighed a 4x CR9EIX spark plug box as it is when shipped to a customer from our stock and it measured in at 145g. Our scales are accurate to +/- 5 grams, so to be sure the measurement was 100% correct, we weighed 5 of them from our genuine CR9EIX stock; and yep, all of which was 145 grams. You can use this weight as a guideline to measure your suspect CR9EIX plugs, the fake plugs were 155 grams in comparison.


The reality is that these counterfeits are a danger to your pocket in disguise. The likelihood is that they will possibly work, however it’s a huge risk and should be remedied at once. Iridium is one of the most corrosive-resistant chemical elements on the Earth’s surface which is why they’re so popular among spark plug manufacturers. Having a centre electrode with a 0.7mm(ish) machined down nickel tip is definitely not a great idea and is likely to wear out far quicker than that of any OE standard ‘copper-nickel’ plug. So, if you’re not 100% sure they’re real, send them back!

Want to be sure you’re buying genuine CR9EIX plugs? Buy from our shop.

Pun of the Day

“It’s shocking, my friend once told me how electricity is measured, and I was like Watt!”



Buy NGK CR9EIX (3521) Iridium IX Spark Plugs Here at Wholesale Price!



With it being one of the most well-known motorcycle spark plugs out there, we wanted to make you aware of the amazing discounts to be had over RRP prices in our secure online shop. All NGK spark plugs we have available are 100% genuine units. We’re actually one of the very few auto parts suppliers who actively try and fight back against counterfeits every day. You can read our popular blog post here on how to spot fake CR9EIX Iridium IX spark plugs. It’s a growing problem on popular auction sites and we always do our best to make the general public aware of it.


The OSRAM Approved Partner & Trust Programs

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Fighting Counterfeits

Today, the global automotive industry is being bombarded with counterfeit Xenon HID bulbs. If you do a quick online search about it, then you’ll see what we mean; it’s shocking.

The fake bulbs in question are sheep in wolves clothing, imitating the real product so well that to any person they’re just normal OSRAM bulbs. The worry sinks in however on the first nighttime drive, where other motorists have been flashing at you constantly due to being blinded. It all begins to make sense when you pull up to a wall or garage back at home and realise the beam pattern is completely all over the place.

Bulb changes commonly means a recalibration of the headlight aim is usually necessary so don’t jump to the worst conclusion straight away. However if the beam pattern is worse than your previous bulbs the chances are high that they’re indeed fake. The unfortunate reality is that fake bulbs are next to useless, completely illegal, a risk to your life and an expense waiting to happen. Fake bulbs are not only a safety worry, but the performance and lifetime are where there’s simply no comparison to that of a genuine bulb. Osram takes this problem very seriously and the result of it all was the Osram Trust & Approved Partner Schemes.


What is an Approved Partner?

An OSRAM Approved Partner is an online retailer that is approved to sell genuine OSRAM products online. They only stock and sell genuine OSRAM automotive parts and accessories, so if you buy any OSRAM product from them, it will be 100% genuine.

How Do I Know I Am Buying from an Approved Partner?

Wherever you see the Approved Partner Logo, it guarantees that they are approved to sell genuine OSRAM products. Every Approved Partner has been issued with a unique AP reference number and logo (which also shows their unique reference).


Is Driven 2 Automotive an Osram Approved Partner?

Yes we are indeed! See our official page on Osram’s Night Breaker Unlimited website here. Our unique reference is# AP1001 and our badge is displayed here.

What Are the Dangers of Fake or Cheap Xenon Bulbs?

  • HID Ballasts can catch fire due to abnormal loads
  • Bulb bases can melt inside the headlight, damaging the reflector and/or bulb mount system
  • Light glare that can dazzle other motorists and cause a collision
  • Premature bulb failures
  • Poor lumen output (brightness) compared to that of genuine bulbs

So How Do I Check My Bulbs?

If you purchase from an official Osram Approved Partner it means it’s an immediate way to ensure you’ll receive a genuine OSRAM product in the post.

Next, follow the guide below to verify the authenticity of your Xenon bulbs:


Step 1) Check the Security Label on the Packaging for a 7-Digit Code

Since October 2015, all OSRAM Xenon HID bulbs feature a special 7-digit code which you can use on their Trust Program website to verify authenticity. If you can’t find a label on your packaging it’s possible the bulbs you’ve purchased were produced before the said date. So do take note that some vendors still stock genuine Osram products without security labels added. In this case, Osram recommends contacting them directly if you’re worried.

  • The 7-digit code is located to the left-hand side of the sticker label – Then enter the code here
  • The 3 digits in the bottom right-hand corner should be holographic
  • A QR code that’s linked to the Trust verification process website
  • The OSRAM logo with the following URL
  • A security strip featuring micro-sized text which you can read with a magnifying glass

Step 2) Check the Data on the Bulb Bases

After entering the 7-digit code which authenticates the packaging, you’ll see a display of data which includes the Osram order number, product designation and lamp numbers. The important one here is to check the lamp numbers displayed on the verification site match the numbers on the bulbs inside the packaging. The numbers are found in the locations as shown:


But There’s No Label on the Packaging of My Bulbs?

We mentioned before that some companies will still hold stock of older Osram products which don’t have a security label on them. In this case OSRAM states the following:

The OSRAM Trust system was introduced in fall 2015. Since then, the lamp packaging contains the two security features. However, it is still possible that several vendors have warehouse stock older than fall 2015 without the new labelling. Should you have doubts regarding your package, please get in touch with OSRAM.

So there you go, no security label doesn’t mean it’s a fake straight off the bat.



In the end we are proud to be part of something which is combating the issue and the two schemes are a great step in the right direction.

If you have any more questions, Osram have an FAQ section on their website located here.



NGK Wholesale Spark Plugs – Buy Here & Save £££!

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NGK Wholesale Prices –

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for wholesale prices on NGK spark plugs! Whether you’re after large quantities or small, we can provide you with the best prices available. For a quote please get in contact with us here and we will be in touch shortly.

All NGK spark plug part numbers are available to order through us with great discounts to be had. We also lead the way when it comes to warning the public of counterfeit NGK spark plugs on the market, so there’s no qualms when it comes to authenticity of the plugs we sell. All NGK plugs we provide are 100% genuine, you can see our highly popular article here on the issue about fake plugs and how to spot them.

Please contact us here for a quote.

See NGK spark plugs in our shop here.

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How to Spot FakesTips

How To Spot Fake Denso Iridium Power Spark Plugs 2017

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Err But They Look Identical I Hear You Say?

Just when we thought the counterfeit NGK Spark Plugs we found recently were a pretty close match to the real thing, we’ve now found counterfeit Denso Iridium Power Spark Plugs as well. Every detail has been cloned to the closest result possible, except for one major flaw; these plugs don’t actually feature any Iridium in the centre electrode at all!

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Alarm Bells

    • Alarm Bell 1: No laser-welded Iridium tip, features a machined down nickel alloy tip instead.
    • Alarm Bell 2: Low-resolution, scanned copy of the box.
    • Alarm bell 3: EAN of the 4pc outer plug box is stamped onto the 1pc inner boxes. This should be a different EAN number.
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All bow to Bosch for listening to their distributors!

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Fighting Fake HID Bulbs – The OSRAM Trust Program


With an estimated 40 million HID bulbs fitted to vehicles from new in 2016, you can see why Xenon bulbs are leading the way in automotive lighting at the moment. LED and Laser headlights are on the horizon, however they are still very much super premium pieces of kit, and to the average Joe; pretty hard to come by.

HID Xenon bulbs were introduced in the 1990’s and became popular in luxury cars, they lit up our roads with daytime like colours and improved overall visibility on the road. However no bulb is immune to failure, and with the first HID bulbs that went into circulation beginning to fail, consumer’s are looking for quality replacements. A common way to spot a failing HID bulb is the discolouration of the emitted light which is known as cycling, a shift towards a very blue/purple colour can be emitted due to the higher temperature and increased voltage required to maintain the arc inside the bulb.


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How to Spot Fake Bosch “044” Fuel Pumps

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Bosch have since produced a new design of their box and added security coded seals to all 044’s manufactured from 2017 onwards. See our article here

Purchase a genuine Bosch 044 from our shop here for peace of mind

This article however, still applies to consumers who’ve purchased older stock elsewhere and are having doubts if their 044’s are genuine or not.



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We’ve made this guide along with some images provided by the online community to help you identify fake 044 fuel pumps. Recently there’s been a large increase in counterfeit Bosch #0 580 254 044 (“Bosch 044”) performance fuel pumps appearing on the market.