Asbestos in cars

Last Updated on September 17, 2020 by

Asbestos in cars manufactured before 1999

Did you know there used to be asbestos in cars?

In the past, asbestos was extensively used in the manufacture of motor vehicles in parts such as brake pads/shoes, gaskets, internal combustion components and lots of other assorted parts.

Asbestos was banned from use in car parts in 1999 in the UK,  except for cars dating pre 1973 which could continue to be fitted with asbestos containing brake shoes up until 2004.

The use of asbestos in cars was so extensive because of the material having excellent insulation properties.

As a material, asbestos prevents heat transfer, thus making it ideal for use in friction based brakes and engine components.

As a result, a lot of the older and classic cars will most likely still contain asbestos parts.

Therefore, car enthusiasts and mechanics should take extra care when working on these older vehicles as they may be at risk of asbestos exposure.

Any old components that are removed should be replaced with asbestos-free parts.

Components suspected of containing asbestos should be correctly disposed of as asbestos waste.

Please contact your local authority for advice and guidance on this, who will inform you of where and how to dispose of any asbestos.

Bear in mind also that asbestos in cars isn’t just associated in older vehicles.

Some modern cars manufactured in Asia, especially China, where asbestos isn’t yet banned and is legal to use, will still contain asbestos.

asbestos in cars - asbestos car brakes
Old asbestos car brakes

Common car parts containing asbestos

Here are some common car parts on older/classic cars where you may expect to find asbestos, and some modern cars manufactured in China:-


This is probably the most common occurance of asbestos in cars.  Asbestos was commonly used in the brake shoes, pads, and rotors.  As brakes rely on the forces of friction to function properly and this friction inturn releases a great deal of heat, asbestos was used as it insulates against this.


Just like brakes, clutches are built to withstand a great deal of friction and grinding. Therefore, asbestos was used to protect against corrosion and wear.


Gaskets were used in the hoses and engine parts of cars.  Asbestos was used as it increased durability and prevented heat transfer.

Heat Seals

Heat seals were used to protect against heat transfer among many different engine and car body parts.


Hoodliners protected the underside of the car’s hood from damage due to engine heat.  Asbestos was used in hood liners and other automotive parts that were required to withstand heat damage.

Valve Rings

A valve ring is a type of gasket, used to provide a secure seal between two surfaces so as to prevent leakage.  It was commonly containing asbestos.

asbestos valve ring car
Old asbestos valve ring

Engine Components

The internal combustion engine used in the great majority of cars releases a great deal of heat. As such, engine components need to be protected against that heat to function properly.  Asbestos was used in the engine part components and compounds to serve this purpose.


Asbestos packing was used in parts like piston rings and was intended to reduce wear and tear upon the cylinder walls of the cars motor.

Body Construction

Asbestos was well known for it’s excellent insulation properties and prevention of heat transfer, but it was also very durable, which meant it was the ideal material to be used in fiberglass or plastic compounds from which auto body parts were made.


The same asbestos that was used in engine components to protect against heat transfer could also be used as an engine firewall between engine compartment and interior in body insulation materials in order to keep a car’s inhabitants warm or cool depending on the outside temperature.

Car batteries

Asbestos was used as insulation of car batteries, both as loose fill asbestos between casing walls, and in the actual casing itself.

Automobile Undercoating

Asbestos shorts and floats were used to toughen asphalt compounds for undercoating automobiles.

Did you find this article on Asbestos in cars interesting?  Then check out our latest posts below.

Need help with an asbestos problem?  Whether you need an asbestos management survey, or a refurbishment/ demolition survey, contact us on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting

Finally, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit book an asbestos awareness training course.

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Published May 29, 2018

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