Asbestos in Classic Cars

Friday 26 July 2019

Environmental Management Solutions tell us about the precautions you need to take if you find asbestos in a classic car

We are familiar with the uses and frequency of asbestos-containing materials in our buildings. However many don't realise that asbestos was commonly used in the motor industry in the twentieth century because of its strong, durable and flexible fibres that are also heat and fire resistant. 

Use of these components was prohibited in 1999 when the UK introduced a ban on all importation and manufacturing of asbestos materials. However, there was an exception to this in that pre-1973 vehicles could continue to be fitted with asbestos containing brake shoes until 2004. This was largely due to the fact that asbestos possesses the unique ability to both insulate and prevent heat transfer due to its fantastic thermal properties.

Amongst the most common car parts to contain asbestos are brake pads and shoes, gaskets, internal combustion components, clutches, heat seals and insulation.

What Precautions Should Be Taken?

Care must be taken when replacing any of these parts in an older or ‘classic’ car, and it is recommended that you presume that they may be asbestos. These parts must only be replaced with non-asbestos containing parts. Caution must be exercised when purchasing or selling second-hand car parts via the internet or other methods. 

The HSE states that ‘The supply, possession for supply and fitting of asbestos products to motor vehicles and trailers is now banned.’  You should ensure that you have parts tested for asbestos if you are in any doubt about them. You will then be issued with a certificate for the product which will illustrate whether the component is asbestos-containing or not. 

The HSE also recommends that all brake and clutch dust is potentially harmful, so it is important in all cases to never blow dust out of brake drums or clutch or clutch hosing with an airline, always use properly designed drum cleaning equipment to prevent dust escaping, or use clean wet rags to clean drums or housings. 

Likewise, the HSE also recommends that any component which is suspected to contain asbestos including the rags used to clean the drums or housing should be disposed of as ‘asbestos waste’. For further information on how to dispose of asbestos waste see the HSE’s guidance sheet for Disposing of Asbestos 

For more information on what to look for and where to check on the vehicle visit the HSE website or contact Environmental Management Solutions.

Environmental Management Solutions

Environmental Management Solutions offer a multidisciplinary environmental consultancy service. With offices in Hereford, Worcester and London, we work throughout the UK and Europe. Their aim is to provide expert advice and consultancy services in order to mitigate risk and maximise compliance with health, safety and environmental legislation for our clients.

EMS was thrilled to be a part of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb event for 2019. They have been a part of the event for the last couple of years and have enjoyed all the motorsport action and hospitality that the event has to offer. 

As partners of both the Chateau Impney Hotel and Greyfort Group, we wanted to further our support for this fantastic event. Alongside this, an emerging market for asbestos surveys and inspections in classic cars made the decision a simple one! Due to importation restrictions in countries such as Australia, we have seen a rise in requests for asbestos inspections in classic cars, as these must be certified asbestos-free before being imported into some countries, including Australia. We also wanted to highlight the prevalence of asbestos within the twentieth-century motor industry and provide educational information for members of the public, owners and drivers of cars at the event.

EMS is here to help, and able to provide advice and guidance on asbestos in classic vehicles as well as asbestos inspection reports for your classic car. 

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