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The Importance of Mechanical Retention for Brake Pads

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The Importance of Mechanical Retention for Brake Pads

Article submitted by Mark Lavelle, Global Brake Safety Council

Brake pads without a mechanical retention system have a significantly increased risk of the friction material separating from the backing plate -- which can lead to brake failure.

This month, the Friction Materials Standards Institute (FMSI) released original equipment specifications for mechanical retention across a range of brake parts.

Original equipment manufacturers specify mechanical retention between the steel backing plate and friction material based on the highly specific application design needs for high loads. Brake pads without a mechanical retention system have an increased risk of the friction material separating from the backing plate. This dangerous event can lead to brake failure -- increased stopping distance or inability to stop at all.

Automotive professionals and consumers need to understand the dangers caused by lack of mechanical retention specification for brake parts.  There are over 100 million brake replacement jobs, accounting for roughly 400 million brake pads (two pads per tire), put on the road every year.  If the friction delaminates from the backing plate, the results can be deadly for drivers, their passengers, and all on the road.  Brake pads are a critical safety item.

Cheap, imported aftermarket brakes made of dangerous black steel have flooded North America’s garages due to their low cost. Because they are painted to look identical to other brake pads, unsuspecting automotive professionals and consumers are unable to distinguish between brake pads and select the cheapest option.

Millions of aftermarket brake pads currently being sold and installed on North American vehicles are without original equipment-designed mechanical retention. Aftermarket brakes need mechanical retention to avoid compromising the brake system’s functionality.

The FMSI is a trade association of automotive aftermarket friction and component manufacturers who have now identified part numbers that are specified by OE to have mechanical retention. This progressive effort will positively impact automotive professionals and consumers alike, who deserve the highest standards of quality and safety when it comes to the vehicles they drive and service.

About the Global Brake Safety Council

The Global Brake Safety Council (GBSC) was established with the intent to uphold the highest standards for brake safety and is dedicated to responsible manufacturing in the automotive industry. With upwards of 200 years in cumulative experience, this group of technical experts is composed of: professional engineers, OE design engineers, product development, and R&D professionals. This team is committed to raising awareness of issues that are critical to public safety through education. To learn more about the GBSC please link through to our website at

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