The asbestos-related dangers of working on classic cars

Dec 1, 2020 | Asbestos

Most people associate asbestos with materials used in older homes and buildings constructed before the fibers were deemed too dangerous to use and banned from new products in the 1980s by the U.S. government. However, auto manufacturers knew before this ban that many of the parts in their vehicles contained asbestos and continued to use it until it became illegal to do so.

Numerous elements of an old vehicle can contain asbestos

Among the parts and materials most likely to contain asbestos are:

  • Brake pads and linings
  • Gaskets
  • Transmission parts
  • Valve rings
  • Clutch discs
  • Hood linings
  • Plastic or fiberglass body work
  • Insulation (in recreational vehicles)

Professionals need the proper protection

Mechanics and technicians who work in body shops and repair businesses that service and restore classic and vintage vehicles are most at risk for contracting the lung diseases caused by asbestos. These include mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. They’re at risk of inhaling the dangerous fibers in the dust created by these parts when they’re removed or unsettled.

Those who work in these jobs should wear proper protective clothing and equipment like Tyvek suits and respirators. and using tools including HEPA vacuums. Owners of businesses that work on vintage or classic cars should provide their employees with all of these things, as well as training on how to use them.

The dangers of DIY car restoration

Do-it-yourself car restorers and mechanics may not be aware of the dangers inherent in repairing or taking apart an old car belonging to a parent or grandparent and restoring it to its original look and functionality. If someone is working on one of these cars in their own garage or driveway, they could be putting themselves and anyone around them in danger.

Car manufacturers are still being held liable for the harm caused to people who weren’t warned about the dangers of auto materials and parts on which  they were working. Employers may also have some liability if they aren’t properly protecting and training their employees who work on vehicles containing asbestos. If you or a loved one is suffering from an asbestos-related condition caused by an older car, find out what your legal options are for seeking the compensation you deserve.