The FBI raided three auto part warehouses in February looking for counterfeit parts that were being sold to cab fleets as an OES brake pads. The warehouses were Worldwide Auto Parts, S&S International Products and Cypros Trading and Shipping.
The raids and three-year investigation found the warehouses were repackaging cheap no name parts and putting them in premium aftermarket and OEM branded part boxes they printed.
The charges allege that the two men internationally trafficked stickers, badges, wrappers and tags used to identify aftermarket and OEM brands.
The FBI was alerted when some cab fleets were sold bad brake pads and ignition coils under the OES brand. This is going to be big news when they start to uncover the depth of their counterfeit operation and what parts were being sold as premium for an inflated price. These warehouses also sold to distributors that sold to the public.
The counterfeit brake pad raid has a lot of technicians, shops and consumers asking how can they tell if what is in the box matches the pads or did someone pull the old switcheroo like what happened in New Jersey and New York. There is a way to tell, but it is not foolproof.
Just about every brake pad or shoe you install has a cryptic code printed on the side of the friction material. As a technician, being able to read this code is just as important as the Dewy Decimal system is to a librarian.
The “Edge Code” can tell you information about the product you are about to install including the cold and hot friction levels and who made it. The edge code is a language written by engineers, federal entities and industry associations. Like any language, edge coding has its own “grammar.”
The first few letters usually indicate the manufacturer. Some companies use their full name or a two or three letter acronym. Some companies print a logo on the shim or backing plate.
Many brake pad brands are not manufactured by the name that is on the box. Some of this products are sold under private labels. But, these companies or retailers selling the pads usually make an effort to put their name somewhere on the pad.
The same is true for some brake lines that source premium friction materials and specific pad sets for difficult applications.