Michigan-based Federal-Mogul Motorparts LLC (Federal-Mogul) has agreed to settle a Federal Trade Commission administrative complaint alleging that it made unsubstantiated claims that its aftermarket Wagner OEX brake pads could stop a vehicle in a shorter distance in an emergency and reduce the risk of collisions, as compared to competitors’ brake pads.
The proposed order resolving the FTC’s complaint prohibits Federal-Mogul from making such claims in the future, unless they are true and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
“Manufacturers of aftermarket auto parts must not make claims about the performance of their products without adequate substantiation,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We did not challenge the brake pads as unsafe. Rather, we challenged the manufacturer for making very specific performance claims without the science to back those claims up, and that’s deceptive and illegal.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, since at least 2015, Federal-Mogul has manufactured, advertised, labeled, marketed, sold, and distributed Wagner OEX brake pads for use on crossover utility vehicles, SUVs, and pick-up trucks. In advertising these specific aftermarket brake pads, the FTC alleges Federal-Mogul falsely claimed that these “premium” brake pads could out-perform competitors’ brake pads.
Specifically, Federal-Mogul’s video advertisements and promotional materials claimed, allegedly without sufficient supporting scientific evidence, that in an emergency Wagner OEX brake pads: 1) will stop a pick-up truck, crossover, or SUV “up to 50 feet sooner” than competing pads, and 2) will significantly reduce the risk of collisions in such vehicles compared to competing pads.
The proposed order settling the administrative complaint prohibits Federal-Mogul from making any claims about the braking benefits, performance, or efficacy of any covered brake pads, unless the representation is not misleading and, at the time it is made, is supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
The provisions of the proposed order apply to any Federal-Mogul branded or marketed aftermarket brake pads, including Wagner OEX aftermarket pads, as well as any third-party branded aftermarket pads for which Federal-Mogul provides marketing materials.
The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement was 5-0. The FTC will publish the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. Instructions for filing comments appear in the published notice. Comments must be received 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $43,280.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.
Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Matthew D. Gold
Western Region San Francisco
Western Region San Francisco