Vehicle repairers, retailers and consumers are being warned to be extremely vigilant when purchasing car parts following a recent seizure of a quantity of unsafe counterfeit brake pads by An Garda Siochana and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment's Trading Standards Service.
The brake pads, branded as Volkswagen, SEAT, Skoda and Audi were seized at properties in Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Belfast and Armagh.
An examination of the brake pads revealed that the potentially dangerous counterfeit parts failed to meet the required braking friction levels. The test concluded that the fakes would not obtain R90 approval - the European legal standard for brake pads.
In elements of the testing the brake pads were found to have 30 percent lower braking efficiency than the Volkswagen genuine part. Under extreme or emergency braking conditions, the body of the pad was found to detach or break away from the backing plate. The implication of this could result in the loss of the vehicle's braking system.
Volkswagen Group Ireland, said, "In the past, counterfeit car parts were mainly non-safety related items such as window wipers and car interior accessories. Now, counterfeit items such as brake pads, brake shoes and steering linkages are available on the market. Vehicles do require maintenance and repairs. The most frequent reason why car repairers and consumers are enticed into buying counterfeit car parts is cost. Genuine parts may cost slightly more, but they guarantee quality and peace of mind. Consumers should use reputable dealers and repairers, and if they are concerned should ask that only Genuine Parts are used."
Volkswagen Group Ireland added: "An Garda Siochana will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those business or individuals found to be involved in selling counterfeit car parts. Anyone selling such items will have their goods seized and face prosecution with the maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a €100,000 fine."
If a retailer, car repairer or consumer has purchased Volkswagen Group branded brake pads that they are concerned about, they can look out for the following tell-tale signs:
- The fake box label indicates that the product is a "Wasserpumpe" and not brake pads. Wasserpumpe is German for water pump
- Printing error on fake box reads Fonnel Q but should read Formel Q
- The backing plate of the fake pads are engraved with "TAXTE" or "TEXTA, whereas the genuine product are engraved with "TEXTAR"
- No fitting instructions included in the box
- Tamper proof box seal missing
- The fake parts do not have a batch code and production date
- The performance of the fake product is significantly lower than the genuine brake pads
Anyone who suspects they have purchased counterfeit brake pads should report the matter to their local authorised dealer and have their vehicle's braking system inspected.