By on February 21, 2013

The thousand injuries of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission have been borne as the operators and taxi passengers best could, but when someone ventures to insult the august governmental body, there is always some lackey ready to claim that the TLC protects — protects! — New Yorkers against a variety of imaginary offenses from racism to murder. Anything’s possible. The TLC clearly protects New Yorkers from the Cloverfield monster, because it’s never actually been spotted in the city.

On the other hand, when it comes to protecting New Yorkers from counterfeit, defective taxi parts, the FBI has to get involved.

The FBI used a few dozen agents to capture three men in a raid on Tuesday. The men were involved in a scam where they purchased low-quality generic auto repair parts ranging from brake pads to suspension airbags and rebranded them as OEM or name-brand parts. It’s easy to see how this could endanger taxi passengers, although speeds in New York are generally low enough that even a full Chevy Rolls Deep Brake Package probably wouldn’t kill anyone but pedestrians.

Given that the brake pads in my Town Car have lasted 94,100 miles so far and they still have a little bit to go, it’s easy to see why taxi operators might be annoyed at cheap Chinese brake pads and whatnot. Still, if it took the FBI three years to crack the case, perhaps the counterfeit parts weren’t so bad after all. One would also suppose that it shouldn’t take three years and the full force of federal law enforcement to deal with the issue. Shouldn’t the TLC be actively looking out for this sort of thing? Or are they too busy cashing Nissan’s checks for the Taxi of Tomorrow doing something else?

Hat tip to TTAC reader Curvy McLegalbriefs for this one.

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19 Comments on “A Big Yellow Taxi, With Fake Brake Pads, Took My Baby Away...”


  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Props for the Ramones reference in the title.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Yes, only the OEMs are allowed to take cheap Chinese parts, put em in a fancy box, and mark the price way up.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Or like the “marine grade” – paint it blue and mark it up!

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Or like with outdoorsy things such as sleeping bags, if it’s red, blue, black or just about any color it costs x, if it’s green and thereby somewhat aimed at the military market it costs 2-3X, later the same thing is released in “commando” or “tactical” black (meanwhile black mysteriously disappears from the base model) for the weekend warrior market at 5-6X while boosting “as used by XYZ-Army/Unit”.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’m old enough to remember when the counterfeits were sourced from Mexico. And it appears that future counterfeits may come from Vietnam and India.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Jack, if you knew just how bad the entire taxi industry in NYC used to be compared to today, you’d see the OEM thing as small potatoes. Many years ago, I drove a cab for a summer while in law school. It was a nightmare. The TLC was filled with the worst sorts of political appointees and the cabs (most owned by fleets but incorporated in small groups to limit liability) were in horrendous shape. Bent frames, worn out ball joints, bald tires, the works. And the cab’s interiors were often patched with duct tape. They were vile. Today, the cabs are mostly well-maintained (many hybrids), there are ways to easily identify and report bad drivers, you can even charge your fare, and a receipt is automatically printed. These changes have come along with all the other ones in the city that have made it much cleaner, safer, and better governed. The only problem now is that regular people can no longer afford to live there.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Agreed with the rest on 15 bucks being cheap fare to drive across town and I live in Podunk South East Va. On my last visit to New York city I found things to be reasonably priced as a tourist compared to say my last visit to DC.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    I was gonna say – yeah Taxi are better – but it costs like 15bucks to drive across town in one. It’s not really clear that’s progress.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You can drive across NYC for only $15 bucks? It costs me that much to go five miles from the beach to the airport in San Diego. What a deal – or did you leave out a digit?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Taxis in NYC are REALLY cheap compared to most places. It’s only ~$35-40 from La Guardia all the way to the West side midtown – I do it regularly for a client. Including the tunnel tolls and airport fees. That’s something like 12-13 miles. It’s $30 for me to go to the Airport from my place in Maine, which is all of 6 miles. So actually, I would be surprised if it cost that much to get from one side of Manhattan to the other – the island is not all that wide!

        I will be happy to see the end of the Crown Brick, utterly miserable vehicles, even in LWB form once you put the divider in there. Very difficult for us tall and fat boys to get in and out of.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Same in the Bay Area for 4 miles. NY taxis are cheap by comparison to other places from my experience. Manhattan is about half the size of San Francisco, btw, in land area, so that’s part of it.

        In Los Angeles, it could be more or less depending on where you’re going, although you are traveling pretty long distances in some cases.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Of all the places I’ve been in the US, NYC has the best taxis (which, unfortunately isn’t saying much). A few years back I flew into Columbus to rent a truck and retrieve the stuff from my storage locker (known as the Museum Of My Former Life). I took a taxi from Port Columbus to the U-Haul on Hamilton Road (a five-minute ride) and it cost almost $20.

    US taxis are pitiful compared to those in Japan and Europe. The cars are almost always clapped-out junkers, dirty, rattling and uncomfortable. NYC cabs are better, but there are still worn-out vehicles. The other night I got in to JFK at midnight and took a cab home to my Upper East Side apartment and the odo on the Crown Vic read almost 250K miles.

    The TLC may be a messed-up organization, but they are all that stands between us and the chaos that would ensue without them. And speaking as a NYC pedestrian, I appreciate that the TLC is concerned about substandard brake pads.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    OK, it’s not just me. I’ve got a Town Car with 85K on what I believe to be its OEM brake pads (and given 46K of those miles are mine with no new pads, I’m pretty sure). It seems freakish to me, but maybe that’s because I have just had too many GM FWD cars (all of which are pretty good at chewing up front brake pads).


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