You can’t make judgments on brake pads or other parts, or making blanket statements on what pads are better. But, there are some confusing marketing messages used by both aftermarket and OE marketing people when it comes to brake pads.
For the past 30 years, the phrase “Meets or Exceeds OE ______” has been used by the replacement parts industry to the point where it has lost any and all meaning. Some companies even use it to sell snake oil. But, it is still part of the collective consciousness that OE or OEM equals quality.
When it comes to OES (Original Equipment Supplier) pads, chances are it will not be the same pad, or even manufacturer as the pads installed at the factory. It will be close to the OE pad because, in some cases, the OE is willing to share design and engineering specifications with the OES supplier. But, more often than not the pad is selected by an accountant.
Most shops will tell you they buy brake pads from the dealer if the customer specifies it or if they have confidence in the dealer’s product (which is rightly deserved in some cases). Some of these OES pads are manufactured by reputable aftermarket manufacturers.
But, the most irritating aspect of these second-line pads is when local dealers try to pass off $99 “pad slaps” as “approved service” with “genuine” parts. These are not the original brake pads and the engineers who designed the vehicle might be appalled at the quality.
Most of the marketing and advertising at the local level by the dealers makes it sound like the consumer will drive out of the service department with a new car for $99. It is a marketing ploy that plays on the assumptions and ignorance of the consumer. Also, it is hurting the automotive service industry as a whole.