An Industry in Denial – the Impact of Pricing on Product Quality in the Brake Business

Thanks to an article published recently on HeraldNet, the website of Everett, Washington’s The Daily Herald newspaper, we have finally gotten a hint of how conflicted garage owners and technicians are about the poor quality of replacement brake parts in the American Automotive Aftermarket.

The article, published December 30th, clearly articulates the concern of local area mechanics about the level of quality for many of the automotive parts, especially brakes, available in the marketplace. As part of the story, shop owners and mechanics expressed that “cheap” parts manufactured offshore are of poor quality, and put consumers at risk – a message that brake part manufacturers, jobbers and retailers would typically deny every hearing from their customers.

In writing this GBSC bulletin we contacted the reporter that authored the story for HeraldNet, who noted an initial reluctance from of the service technicians and shop owners to provide comments for the story.   According to the author, the general consensus from her interviewees was that using cheaper brake pads just wasn’t worth it, as the shop would end up having to replacing these products again and again. And ultimately, the customer would think the problem was with the mechanic.

Within the same article, the mechanics speak to the challenges of obtaining good quality replacement parts in every product category, as well as the folly of an industry that has standards for tires, brake hoses, and brake fluid – but not for the brake pads that are critical to delivering safe performance for car owners. In all that, the HeraldNet article  would seem to reflect many of the findings of the Global Brake Safety Council, in that it speaks to a part of our industry than seems willing to forgo quality, value and safety in the hunt for ” market volume through discounting”, all while claiming that everything is just fine.

Our own research into the market; examining failed parts, technical reviews of new, just-out-of-the-box parts, testing, searching through the commentary from consumers and technicians in on-line blogs, all tells us that there are issues with product quality and performance in the North American aftermarket. It would seem, from reading the HeraldNet article and other on-line sources, that the service industry recognizes the same issues. For the industry to wave its hands and pretend that this type of criticism  doesn’t existing is essentially just “whistling past the graveyard”, hoping that nothing reaches out from the declining quality and capabilities of aftermarket brake parts and disturbs the market’s status quo of using low-price products to jump brand market share and profits.

Hopefully, the domestic Friction Manufacturing industry can use the insights from the HeraldNet article to gain the ear of installers across North America, and then gain their support in re-setting the industry’s standards for brake products, putting a stop to selling out the value of North American-produced, quality products.

To read the original HeraldNet article, click here.

To comment, email us at