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article imageQ&A: Dangers of operating vehicles with aftermarket brake pads Special

By Tim Sandle     May 3, 2019 in Technology
The Global Brake Safety Council have assessed the non-existent federal and state regulations in the aftermarket brake pad market. This shows the higher risk of brake failure if they are constructed with substandard materials.
Aftermarket brakes in the U.S. are not held to the same standards as original manufacturers, which can lead to a higher risk of brake failure if they are constructed with substandard materials. To assess the risk, the Global Brake Safety Council conducted three studies: the Effects of ‘Black Steel’ And Its Contribution to Premature Brake Pad Replacement and Brake Pad Failure, and Brake Pad Failure Modes and their Consequences. These studies were reviewed by Dr. Gregory Fridman, Assistant Research Professor at Drexel University’s C. & J. Nyheim Plasma Institute.
Dr. Fridman’s commentary on the research states: “I can conclude, with confidence, that poor manufacturing practices are clearly being employed in the aftermarket disc brake manufacturing process. Black steel use is shown, in the provided reports, to contain oxide layers that are linked to low pad performance, delamination (‘rust jacking’), and other issues. Combined, this seems to be a major safety concern and needs to be addressed.”
To understand more about these safety issues and the prospect of any emerging regulations that might address these concerns, Digital Journal spoke with Scott Lambert, chairman of the Global Brake Safety Council.
Digital Journal: Why are there no regulations for the aftermarket brake pad market?
Scott Lambert: It’s a significant commitment for companies to conduct the research and tests necessary to ensure the quality of aftermarket brake pads for every model manufactured. With no regulations in place for manufacturers to have to adhere to, businesses are protecting their bottom line by not investing in the extensive tests prior to manufacturing and selling their brake pads to consumers. Original equipment manufacturers are required to meet an industry standard for brake pads in new vehicles, but replacement brake pads are not mandated to meet those same standards. No one outside the brake pad industry realizes the lack of regulation is putting the safety of drivers and passengers at risk on the roadways.
DJ: What are the risks arising from this lack of oversight?
Lambert: Safety should be at the core for every company in the automotive industry. Drivers face the risk of brake failure with the oversight on industry standards for aftermarket brake pads. Since the aftermarket brake industry has always lobbied to remain self-regulated, the distributors were able to create their own private brands and push the price to the bottom. Brake pad manufacturers met the price demands by moving manufacturing to low cost countries and cutting corners in the manufacturing and testing processes.
There was a time when the quality gap between an OE and an aftermarket brake pad was very small. Today, price pressures have resulted in this gap growing to the point that it has become a safety issue. Ignoring these issues results in brake failure, injury and death.
DJ: Are there any accident trends in relation to these risks?
Lambert:Drivers are susceptible to accidents when they experience brake failure that causes an increased stopping distance, or inability to stop at all. Recently, there was a car accident in Ohio that was reportedly from faulty brakes that resulted in the casualty of a father and son, and we still have not been notified of the root cause.
Through our studies, we have discovered that the number one issue with brake pad failure today is rust. Rust in brake pads can cause binding of the pads in the caliper and separation of the brake pad’s friction from the steel backing plate. The delamination of the friction from the steel backing plate, is a serious safety hazard.
Due to the lack of standards, more aftermarket brake pads are being made from black steel, making the friction more likely to separate from the backing plate. However, steel used in original equipment manufacturer brake pads are made via a cleaning process of pickling, oiling and coating, which is a standard that should be applied to aftermarket products. Further, rust and corrosion of brake pads are significantly increased with aftermarket brake pads.
DJ: What are the main failure modes in relation to the brake pads?
Lambert:Rust is the prime enemy of brake pads. Every metal part in the undercarriage of a car is coated or galvanized, however, brake pads are just painted, which just chips away or burns off in a few stops. We conducted a study that showed a 29% failure rate of brake pads due to rust where the steel was rotting and separating from friction material.
Dr. Gregory Fridman, an Assistant Research Professor at Drexel University’s C. & J. Nyheim Plasma Institute, reviewed studies the Global Brake Safety Council conducted on aftermarket brake pads and said, “Poor manufacturing practices are clearly being employed in the aftermarket disc brake manufacturing process. Black steel use is shown, in the provided reports, to contain oxide layers that are linked to low pad performance, delamination (‘rust jacking’), and other issues.”
The OEM recognize this and precoat the steel prior to molding to ensure the pad will not rust, will never bind in the caliper, and will never delaminate as a result of corrosion.
DJ: How aware are consumers about this issue?
Lambert:Consumers are not aware of the difference of aftermarket brake pads and the current safety issues caused by substandard aftermarket brake pads. Many consumers believe when they get their brake pads replaced, that the new brake pads are of the same quality as the parts installed in new vehicles, which is not the case. Educating the consumer of the issues related with cheap brake pads is our priority. We are working to bring awareness to the fact that buying a quality brake pad saves you money in the long run and ensures you are driving on a safer product.
DJ: What needs to be done to resolve this matter?
Lambert:We need to educate the consumer and raise awareness of the issues. We need to train consumers and installers to ask the right questions about aftermarket brake pads. Individuals should be inquiring as to where the brake pads were manufactured and if the steel is painted or galvanized.
DJ: Can new technologies assist?
Lambert:The use of galvanized brake pads is a solution available today to ensure aftermarket brake safety. Galvanization is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to metal that prevents rust and corrosion from taking place to aftermarket brake pads. It creates a higher quality brake pad that will be reliable in all driving conditions.
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