WASHINGTON (Dec. 3, 2009) — Affinia Group Inc., an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based manufacturer of brake rotors and other automotive aftermarket equipment, has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a separate performance standard for light-vehicle brake rotors.
For years brake rotors have been included as part of the general federal standard for light vehicle brake systems, Affinia told NHTSA in its Nov. 30 petition. Until about 18 months ago, aftermarket brake part manufacturers always made sure their parts performed according to the federal rule, it said.
“Unfortunately…several companies have been importing and distributing aftermarket brake rotors that purport to be replacement parts for certain specified OE brake rotors, but which are not consistent with the applicable OEM specifications and whose performance and durability is far below that of the OE rotors that they purport to replace,” Affinia said.
More than 90 percent of replacement brake rotors sold in the U.S. are imported, Affinia noted in its petition.
“As a practical matter, neither NHTSA nor Customs and Border Protection can identify whether an imported rotor contains a safety defect,” it said. “It is critical to adopt an enforceable federal safety standard, and to require manufacturers of rotors to certify that their products comply with that standard.”
Because the problem is relatively recent in origin, there is no record of crashes caused by faulty brake rotors, according to Affinia. “However, the test data…and the laws of physics demonstrate that, over time, if lightweight rotors are allowed to proliferate, crashes and associated injuries (and perhaps fatalities) are inevitable,” the company said.
Affinia recently settled a lawsuit against two rival companies, Dura International and CRW Parts Inc., which Affinia claimed were using false advertising to claim their brake rotors met or exceeded OE specifications and performance.