Are auto parts regulated? Little Known Fact about the auto care industry 1

Are auto parts regulated? Auto parts are required to be certified that they are safe for use in the U.S., right? You might find the answer unsettling.Are auto parts regulated? They all have to meet certain specifications, right?

Are auto parts regulated is a question I don’t think I have ever heard anyone ask. I believe there is a reason for that, and I don’t believe that it is accidental that this isn’t talked about.

So here we go.

Say I live in China and have a brake pad press, but I don’t have any engineering background or any of the proprietary friction formulas from the the vehicle manufacturers. Thing is, I still want to sell some product, so I load my machine up with something, anything, press it into a puck of material and glue it to a backing plate. I have a nice box made, call it premium quality, and ship a container load to the U.S. Say my “premium quality” brake pads contain some sawdust and grass clippings. There is no way my knock off, low quality brakes will ever make it onto your vehicle, is there?

You know your vehicle. The one you put your family members in, the one you might drive a little too fast and start slowing down a little too late. The one you trust with your life. There is NO WAY you could end up with my grass clipping and sawdust brake pads, is there? My guess is that you are afraid you already know the answer.

Are auto parts regulated? For the most part, no they are not.

While I think the people that knowingly use this level of product is a very small percentage, I also know that there are TONS of this type of product sold every year, and it is going somewhere. The fact is that this product is in the supply chain with all the other grades of product, and there is no requirement that it meets any sort of specification for any particular purpose. There is an expectation from the public that it meets a certain level of quality, but there is nothing or nobody requiring that it do so. Throw into the mix that since I am a Chinese company, I am out of the reach of being sued should my cheap brake pads fail and cause a fatality. Win win for me!

On the bright side, we can always count on big business to do what is right for the public, correct? Oh, right. Profit is king.

In future posts I will go over some ways, by product type, that you can help protect yourself against this issue, but just to leave you with one more little ray of sunshine:

  • Buying your parts from a name brand supplier DOESN’T NECESSARILY PROTECT YOU.
  • Having your vehicle repairs done at the new car dealer DOESN’T NECESSARILY PROTECT YOU.
  • Doing your own work DOESN’T NECESSARILY PROTECT YOU.
  • Having your work done at a quality shop DOESN’T NECESSARILY PROTECT YOU.
  • Buying a brand you are familiar with DOESN’T NECESSARILY PROTECT YOU.

So why discuss this? Because it matters. Not only does it have ramifications for the safety of our families, but also the strength of our economy, and the health of our planet. Thanks for walking with me.




  2 comments for “Are auto parts regulated? Little Known Fact about the auto care industry 1

  1. April 28, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for the “ray of sunshine,” Bill 😉

    I’m excited to read the future posts. I’ve been freaked out about grass pads for a while but I have assuaged my fears by leaning on a quality brand that I trust (ie: Raybestos). I know reboxing is an issue too, but a good name gives you some protection, right? I’ve got a certain scene from Tommy Boy stuck in my head right now…

  2. partsadviser
    April 28, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks Chris! With the possible exception of the whole rebox issue, it is pretty safe to say you are not going to get grass in a Raybestos pad, for a few reasons, but namely because they control their whole supply chain pretty closely. There are hundreds of other inexpensive brands that literally create a name, throw together a quick website, sell a bunch of product, then disappear. That product is peppered throughout the car care industry. Thanks for the interest, I look forward to continuing the conversation.


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