Australia's top consumer watchdog has issued an unprecedented recall on counterfeit brake pads that contain asbestos.
The bogus brake pads -- which are supplied in what appears to be genuine Toyota packaging and are designed to fit more than 500,000 HiLux utes and Hiace vans on Australian roads -- were bought online by an independent workshop.
It is the first time a recall has been issued for a counterfeit car part.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will compel the supplier Westend Spares, based in the western Sydney suburb of St Marys, to contact all customers who bought the counterfeit parts and refund the cost to them.
The action comes after News Corp Australia revealed exclusively a fortnight ago that the asbestos parts had been imported illegally into the country.
The owner of Westend Spares, Andrew Gaal, said he was shocked to learn the brake pads he bought online from China were found to be counterfeit and contain asbestos.
Mr Gaal, who told News Corp Australia his father died from asbestos poisoning in 2008, said he took immediate action once he was notified about the dangerous parts.
“This subject is close to my heart because my father passed away from asbestosis, so I got in contact with the people we sold them to straight away, (we’re) giving them a full refund and getting the pads back so they can be destroyed,” said Mr Gaal.
I wasn’t aware they were counterfeit. They came in a Toyota box
The independent mechanic said he sold the parts via the online auction site eBay after he bought them from a supplier in China.
“It’s made me more alert, it’s never going to happen again that’s for sure,” said Mr Gaal.
“I wasn’t aware they were counterfeit. They came in a Toyota box. I’ve lost sleep about this. It’s created stress between me and my wife. This could have been a lot worse on a bigger scale and I’m glad it didn’t.”
Mr Gaal says while he only sold 10 sets of counterfeit brake pads (from a batch of 40 sets), he believes a lot of other independent workshops are likely to have been caught out by the scam.
“A lot of smaller workshops buy stuff online like me … there is a strong possibility there are more (counterfeit brake pads with asbestos) out there,” he said.
Asbestos brake pads were banned from Australia in 2004 after the material was linked to lung cancer.
HiLux and Hiace vehicles serviced only by the Toyota dealer network are not at risk of having the bogus brake pads, but vehicles maintained by independent repairers may have been fitted with the counterfeit parts.