50 shades of fake: a guide to recognizing fake Brembo brakes

12/18/2019

 Fake Brembo brakes are becoming all the more widespread! How to tell apart fake, semi-fake, and super fake Brembo brakes from the real-deal originals. Because not all fakes may be the same, but they’re all equally perilous.

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A symbol of motoring, racing, and high performance excellence, Brembo braking systems enjoy great kudos with a large number of motoring enthusiasts. Such appeal attracts the interest of consumers, but also of organizations involved in counterfeiting, which after handbags, watches, sunglasses, and clothing have turned their sights on the brand and started manufacturing and selling fake Brembo brakes. ​

The phenomenon of fake vehicle spare parts is nothing new, but in the case of Brembo parts, it takes on a specifically new dimension as it concerns an active safety component of vehicles on which the safety and lives of the driver and passengers traveling on vehicles fitted with fake parts depend. ​

If worse comes to worse, a fake watch purchased on an exotic holiday abroad will tell the time wrong. The same goes for a fake handbag, if it falls apart because of shoddy materials used in its making. That’s not true, though, for a braking system, where poor quality can cost dearly, which is why imitation braking systems are so much more dangerous.​


 


 

Choosing imitation components such as fake car brakes can pose major risks for the safety of the people aboard the vehicle and for the vehicle itself. Such “superficiality” may be paid for quite suddenly on a turn, if the car brakes “late” and runs off the road,or if a key component snaps, triggering an accident.​

A fake is a fake, there are no two ways about it. Still, there can be varying degrees of fakeness, as the sheer number and diversity of cases of fake Brembo parts goes to show. So to simplify the matter, we’ve identified three different categories of braking components that fail the originality test. We call them fakes, semi-fakes, and super fakes​. ​

As different as they each are, the three types of fakes we describe below all have one very important thing in common—something we will never tire to stress—which is that they all place at risk the life of the driver, the lives of any passengers on board, and the lives of other motorists on the road.


 
FAKES​​

 

These form the most obvious, classic category of fake Brembo parts, encompassing all those imitation products (calipers, discs, brake pads) that are more or less similar to genuine Brembo originals.

Such fakes are often crude copies and so easy to spot by an expert eye. Other times, though, they can be very deceiving, as they replicate the external appearance of the components. But resembling a genuine Brembo original on the outside doesn’t mean replicating the technology on the inside or delivering the same performance standards.​

When you purchase non-original Brembo calipers, discs or pads, you have no guarantee of compliance with manufacturing standards and no guarantee of performance. A non-original brake part may show major performance limits in the most disparate of conditions or simply a significant decline in performance levels over time.​

Unfortunately (or, rather, fortunately for people who choose only certified spare parts), when you purchase a fake Brembo product there’s no way of knowing in advance whether the part can guarantee the same high performance standards as a genuine Brembo original, whether it will last as long as an original part, or whether it can deliver the same consistency of performance. And that’s important, because if the fake part performs poorly or shows early wear and tear, the buyer has no one to make a claim against.


 

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For instance, in some cases, some bogus parts may seem to perform more or less similarly to a genuine Brembo original in a single braking process. But repeat braking over a set period of time, for instance when driving down a series of turns, may see the gap in the response time between the pedal and effective braking in a braking system fitted with fake parts grow exponentially.

We’ve verified that ourselves by subjecting a number of fake products to the same tests that genuine Brembo originals classically undergo before their release on the market. Malfunctions were the order of the day, ranging from reduced braking efficiency and comfort issues in the braking system, to cases where the components actually fell apart. ​

Comfort issues concern the absence of whistling and vibrations, which is something manufacturers of fake braking components completely ignore. Brembo instead conducts numerous tests on the shape and composition of its components to minimize any noise levels. Because our components are designed and manufactured to meet the highest quality standards demanded by the world’s most prestigious car makers.

Tests are then rerun with the braking system installed on a vehicle to check for any issues, as part of Brembo’s systemic approach to studying how the various components fit together to ensure the greatest reliability, comfort, and durability of brakes in relation to the weight, power, and mechanical characteristics of the vehicle.


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SEMI-FAKES​

 



Alongside those 100% fake Brembo parts, then there are partially fake Brembo braking systems, or what we call “semi-fakes,” but which are no less dangerous than them.​

The idea of a semi-fake might strike some as a contradiction in terms—either it’s fake or it’s not fake! So how can a Brembo braking system only be semi-fake? The answer lies in the fact that a Brembo braking system is made up of various components (disc, caliper, pad, and movements), each of which can have a different origin.​

A semi-fake is a Brembo braking system where some original components (usually the brake caliper) are packaged together and sold with other non-Brembo components. Brembo has always been opposed to such practices, in the firm belief that the performance of a braking system is determined not just by the quality but also by the perfect integration of each of its components. ​

Here our forgers adopt a slightly different, but no less risky strategy, which almost always involves the purchase of Brembo calipers sold as spare parts for vehicles fitted with Brembo brakes as standard. Where the calipers come from is another story, though, as sometimes they’re not new but sourced from stolen or wrecked vehicles, so you have no idea of their history.


 

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The calipers usually bear the logo of car makers like Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, BMW or others, but are repainted with the Brembo logo and sold in kits with other components, such as suspect discs and pads.

In this case, although the calipers are effectively manufactured by Brembo, and so would appear to present no problem, the final kit can be risky. There are three reasons why we prefer to recommend you beware of these fake kits.​

The first is that it’s rather unlikely that a Brembo brake caliper designed to fit a certain car (and therefore made and tested on the basis of the specific characteristics of that car, such as its weight, the type of master cylinder matched, the ABS, etc.) will work smoothly on a different car.​

It’s like with performance brake upgrade kits—it’s totally wrong to think that just because they’re more powerful, they are better than the original equipment. A combination of braking system elements that is perfect for one car may prove oversized for another, generating excessive braking force and constantly activating the electronics, making for a frustrating driving experience.​​​​​​​

 

The second danger risk is given by the painting process used to repaint the caliper, often done by amateurs. Painting brake calipers is a delicate task, one not without its pitfalls. That’s not to say there aren’t professionals out there who can do the job correctly, but increasingly we receive reports of malfunctioning calipers due to “half-baked” paint jobs.

Obviously it’s not the paint in itself that damages the caliper, but the preliminary work done on the hydraulics. Often, the disassembly and reassembly of the pistons isn’t done right, or in some cases it’s not done at all. In that case, if the caliper is then painted and baked, the heat can damage the piston seals and impair the caliper’s performance.

Finally, the third danger we see is the suspect origin and poor quality of the other components sold together with the caliper as a kit. Here we mean the discs, brake pads, and clamps. In a braking system, each component plays its part in making the overall system work perfectly. If just one component is of shoddy quality, the proper functioning of the system as a whole can suffer. ​

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So that’s why we talk about SEMI-FAKES​—it’s not the individual braking component that is bogus and dangerous, but the mixed up kit using Brembo originals. Even if they’re only partially fake, from a performance and safety point of view they are still 100% dangerous and unreliable.

Every Brembo braking system, including upgrade kits, is designed for a specific vehicle, on the basis of in-depth analyses of that vehicle’s characteristics, including its weight, the arrangement of the elements in the wheel side, the electronics, tires, and the original master cylinder.

Brembo braking system upgrades are therefore designed, sized, made, and tested to work perfectly for the vehicle they’re destined for. As such, even using a completely original Brembo braking system on a different car to the one it’s been designed for can be risky.

That’s another reason why Brembo always recommends going to an authorized and certified Brembo dealer, as besides providing technical assistance, they only sell Brembo Kits exclusively for the cars they’re designed for. That way, besides the guarantee of finding a genuine original, you can be sure you’re purchasing the right Brembo braking system for your car, and not some wild adaptation.​

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RETRO-FITTED AND "HALF-COOKED​"​​


In the world of automobiles, it's normal to make little modifications – some more creative than others – to your vehicle with parts from others, adapting them to different purposes than they were designed for. This goes by various names (retro-fitting, personalization, cannibalizing, tuning, and so forth), but it's a whole different ballpark from what we like to call "half-cooking". ​

At Brembo, we believe that mixing different braking components that are not designed for specific cars, is not an ideal solution, and can in some cases be dangerous. We therefore strongly advise against it. But of course, everyone is free to do what he thinks is best for his car and with the Brembo products he has bought, regardless of where they've come from or the car they were originally designed for.

Using a brake caliper fresh out the Brembo factory, designed for another car, with components of a different character and origin, does not mean you are mixing and matching with it (although, as we've said, we at Brembo advise against it).

However, selling your homemade contraption by passing it off as an original, 100% Brembo system, as if it was a Kit tested and approved by Brembo, and taking advantage of the innocence and good faith of someone who thinks he really is buying a Brembo Kit, is illegal.

So, what we call "half-cooking" is not when a car lover decides to personalize his car's brakes with a mix of components of different origins, in full awareness of what he's doing and taking on all the consequences. It's when a braking system that's only partly original and made with Brembo pieces, is passed off and sold as a 100% Brembo original.

At Brembo, we consider it our duty to point out the differences between this kind of thing, and an upgraded Brembo braking system, designed and tested for a specific automobile. We must protect buyers of Brembo braking systems who cannot spot a completely original Brembo Kit from a homemade one, made with Brembo pieces but without any production engineering, testing, or guarantee of proper functioning. ​
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SUPER FAKES​

 

Generally speaking, a fake is a copy of an existing product that is widely found, and widely popular, on the market. But there are also fakes that imitate nothing at all, but simply borrow a trademark from a company, even though it has never produced any sort of item of that kind. That’s the case of what we call “super fakes”—because they are so fake as to imitate no original at all, but simply appropriate a trademark illegally.​

In Brembo’s case, we’re talking especially about covers, that is plastic covers (or more rarely, aluminum) for brake calipers that, in the intention of the manufacturer, are supposed to improve their appearance.​

Although more and more fake Brembo covers are popping up on the market, Brembo does not produce—and never has produced—brake covers. As you can easily guess, the level of technology and research that Brembo applies daily to its braking systems has absolutely nothing to do with trivial pieces of plastic like covers.

So in this case, there’s absolutely no connection with an original product because original Brembo covers just don’t exist. In the attempt to fraudulently profit from the prestige enjoyed by Brembo, instead of copying one of Brembo’s original calipers—something they would be hard pressed to do—the forgers content themselves with the cheaper surrogate of a bogus cover.​


 

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What we have, therefore, is a fake that is as fake as can be, because it unlawfully uses the Brembo trademark on a product that Brembo has never manufactured or even produced as a prototype. And that’s what we call SUPER FAKE.

And the problems you risk by using such covers are just as super, starting from the trouble caused by overheating. Since the covers are made of plastic, they slow down the cooling process because the caliper is no longer in direct contact with air.​


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HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF


The cases we’ve outlined are all very different, showing varying levels of sophistication, but the danger they all pose remains the same.

The variables at play and the professional skills needed to manufacture, or just even assemble, a braking system are all extremely complex and advanced. That’s why Brembo recommends paying the utmost attention to the quality and originality of all the braking system components used on your car.
To guarantee maximum protection and safety for consumers, for years Brembo has placed the same innovative approach that is the hallmark of its products at the service of its customers. Brembo, in fact, was the first in the industry to set up a service to guarantee the originality of products purchased.

For a more secure purchasing experience, all genuine Brembo originals (except for standard components) feature an anti-counterfeiting system in the form of a scratch card, hologram or QR code to guarantee authenticity. That means the purchaser can track down the product on the Internet using the unique product code, to immediately check that it’s a genuine original.

Two different anti-counterfeiting systems can be found on different types of Brembo products.

A) For High Performance products, an anti-counterfeiting scratch card can be found inside the box.
B) For Aftermarket discs and pads, there’s a hologram of the Brembo trademark (for discs only) and a QR code to check the product is an original. ​​​​


 

 


 


 


 

Anti-counterfeiting card for Brembo High Performance parts​

The Brembo High Performance range features components designed to enhance the braking capability of your car in terms of performance, look, and comfort.
On this range of products, the guarantee of originality is given by an anti-counterfeiting scratch card. You can find the card inside the sealed box together with the product instructions. All you have to do is scratch the silver strip on the back of the card to reveal a 6-digit code to enter on the website www.original.brembo.com to check that the component is a genuine original.

Unlike other scratch & win cards, with the Brembo card you win 100% of the time. And the prize? Perfect braking performance in all conditions and guaranteed long-lasting life, without any nasty surprises or early drops in performance.
To check your purchase, just enter the card number, component type, and country of purchase on the website. By entering additional information, such as your email address and the car or motorbike model on which the part is to be fitted, you can also download a certificate of authenticity in PDF. You can even do it directly from the store you purchase at, as the website is optimized for smartphone browsing.


 


 

Anti-counterfeiting hologram and QR code for Brembo Aftermarket parts​​

The Brembo Aftermarket range features spare parts identical or equivalent to the original, guaranteeing excellent performance, reliability, durability, and comfort in all braking conditions.
For Brembo Aftermarket discs and pads, the guarantee of originality is provided by a QR code to check the part is genuine.

It is important that the box in intact and shows no signs of tampering. For brake pads, the QR code is printed on the sticker sealing the box, while for discs it can be found on the product label, together with an unforgeable Brembo hologram.
Naturally, all Brembo discs and pads are marked with a code and the Brembo logo and carry ECE R90 marking. Brake pads are additionally marked with a WVA code, while discs bear a minimum thickness value expressed as Min Th.​​


 

 

 

 

 
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Brembo S.p.A. | P.IVA 00222620163

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