— Wagner OEx brake pads have been advertised as premium pads that would stop a pickup truck or SUV “up to 50 feet sooner” than competing brake pads, significantly reducing the risk of a crash.
But according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), those claims aren't supported by reliable scientific evidence which shows the "premium" Wagner OEx brake pads are any better than similar pads from other companies.
The Michigan manufacturer of the Wagner OEx brake pads, Federal-Mogul Motorparts LLC, agreed to settle a FTC complaint that requires the manufacturer to stop making such claims.
“Wagner OEx brake pads can stop your truck, SUV or CUV up to 50 feet sooner.* Do you know which brake pads are on your vehicle?" - Wagner OEx brake pad TV advertisement
The ads allegedly were meant to lead consumers to believe the Wagner OEx brake pads were the clear choice for safety in emergencies compared to pads from other manufacturers.
The FTC says the problem isn't about the safety of the brake pads. Regulators say their problem is with the claims of stopping "up to 50 feet sooner" without the supporting scientific evidence to justify the advertising.
“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.” - FTC
Although Federal-Mogul says it hired an independent company to compare the OEx brake pads to competitor pads on a 2014 Ford F-150, 2011 Toyota RAV4 and a 2013 Chevy Tahoe, the FTC says the test protocol didn't reflect real-world driving.
"For example, the industry standard test – known as the 'best-effort' stop – directs the driver to press down hard on the brake pedal to simulate how people are likely to respond to the kind of emergency shown in Federal-Mogul’s ads. However, Federal-Mogul’s test had drivers apply constant and relatively light pressure. In addition, the protocol tested brakes at hotter than normal temperatures – a condition that produces longer stopping distances." - FTC
The proposed settlement blocks Federal-Mogul from making unsubstantiated performance claims about aftermarket OEx brake pads or other parts.
According to the FTC, each violation of a settlement order could result in a civil penalty of up to $43,280.