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Auto Mechanics Asbestos Exposure

Auto mechanics may be exposed to asbestos while servicing classic cars and imported aftermarket automobile friction parts, gaskets, and seals. If you are a current or former auto mechanic with an asbestos-related illness, your employer may have exposed you to asbestos. The Lanier Law Firm helps auto mechanics diagnosed with mesothelioma seek damages for their exposure.

A report by the EPA suggests that as many as 749,900 automotive service technicians may be exposed to asbestos while servicing aftermarket automotive brakes and clutches. An additional 749,900 occupational bystanders may also be exposed during servicing.

Auto mechanics who are exposed to asbestos face a risk of developing deadly asbestos-related diseases that may not appear until 10 to 60 years later. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosiss after working as an auto mechanic, you were almost certainly exposed to asbestos on the job.

The Lanier Law Firm can help you file a claim for compensation so you can seek the treatment you need and restore your financial security.

The Lanier Law Firm Gets Results for Mesothelioma Auto Workers

As a nationally-recognized mesothelioma law firm, The Lanier Law Firm has a long history of achieving historical results for our mesothelioma clients during the most difficult time in their lives. We take pride not in the numbers, but in the difference these numbers have made.

The following are examples of results we have achieved for auto mechanics:

A $2,577,382.63 settlement for a worker exposed to asbestos as a young man working in the oil industry, then as a brake technician in the auto industry

A $1.5 million settlement on behalf of a woman who developed pleural mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos dust brought home on the work clothing of her husband, an automotive brake mechanic

Mechanic Occupations Exposed to

Automobile mechanics working in the following capacities may have been exposed to asbestos:

  • First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers
  • Aircraft mechanics and service technicians
  • Automobile mechanics and service technicians
  • Motorboat mechanics and service technicians
  • Motorcycle mechanics
  • Recreational vehicle service technicians

Asbestos in automotive parts becomes dangerous when disturbed. Mechanic work often includes assembly, disassembly, cutting, grinding, and other activities that disturb asbestos and release its microscopic particles into the air, where they can be ingested. Once ingested, the body cannot break them down and asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma are likely to develop.

Mechanic fixing a clutch

Which automotive parts contain asbestos?

The majority of automobile parts containing asbestos are imported aftermarket parts and original equipment on classic vehicles. Due to its heat and fire-resistant properties, asbestos was used extensively in the following friction materials, gaskets, and sealants, according to a study by the University of South Florida:

Brake linings

Disc brake pads





Exhaust systems

Engine heads

Asphalt-based undercoating

Asbestos was often applied to the undercarriage of vehicles to prevent rust and dampen road noise.


According to the Federal Register and the EPA, automotive chrysotile asbestos-containing disc and drum brakes were common until 2000, and brakes and linings in vintage and newer vehicles may contain asbestos due to the popularity of imported aftermarket parts.

The EPA banned asbestos products in automotive parts in 1989, but this was overturned in 1991, allowing products to be used in automotive parts again. In 2010, a Freedonia report revealed that California and Washington passed legislation requiring brake pads to have no more than 0.1% asbestos by January 1, 2015.

This was important because from 1996 through 2006, asbestos-containing brake imports had increased 83 percent.
On January 21, 2015, several prominent automotive trade associations voluntarily signed the Copper-Free Brakes Initiative in cooperation with the EPA, which bound them to abide by the California and Washington restrictions.


The clutch transfers power between the engine and the drive chain. It typically contains friction materials because it lies between two rotating metallic surfaces. According to the EPA, asbestos-containing clutches were phased out by 2000. Manufacturers had already begun using alternate materials in the 1980s.

Proposed EPA Ban on asbestos in
automotive parts

As of April 2022, the EPA has proposed a final rule that will ban the import, manufacture, and sale of most asbestos-containing products, including automotive parts.

This important ban will undoubtedly spare thousands of auto workers from exposure to asbestos. However, auto mechanics will continue to be exposed to asbestos friction parts already in the country.

How much asbestos is safe for an automobile mechanic?

Although the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) has established a permissible exposure level over an eight-hour period of 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeters, there is no known safe level of asbestos. However, auto mechanics exposed to high levels of asbestos over a long period face the highest risks.

OSHA Guidelines for Automobile Mechanics Working with Asbestos Products

OSHA governs the health and safety procedures auto mechanics must follow in order to minimize asbestos exposure and the associated health risks while working with asbestos products.

Automotive workers involved with the inspection, disassembly, repair, and assembly of brakes and clutches must adhere to the following standards:

  • Enclosed work area to prevent the release of asbestos fibers
  • The provision of impermeable, transparent sleeves
  • The use of negative pressure using a HEPA vacuum while work is performed
  • The use of compressed air to remove particles as necessary
  • The wetting of the filter when emptying
  • The immediate cleanup of spills and releases
Mechanic working on a vehicle
Mechanic working on a vehicle

Alternatively, a low-pressure wet cleaning method may be used, so long as a catch basin is placed under the work area. Dry brushing is prohibited. Employers are required to inform their employees of asbestos-related work hazards.

Best Practices for Home Mechanics

The EPA provides separate guidelines for auto mechanics working from home or individuals who perform their own automotive maintenance.

Practices to Avoid

Avoid the following practices to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne, contaminating your clothing, or being tracked inside your home where your family could be exposed.

  • Using compressed air for cleaning
  • Using a dry rag, wet or dry brush, or garden hose to clean brakes or clutches
  • Using an ordinary wet/dry vac without a HEPA filter to vacuum dust
  • Taking work clothes or tracking dust inside the house after performing brake or clutch work

Best Practices

The following practices will minimize exposure and protect your home and family.

  • Use pre-ground, ready-to-install parts.
  • Use low speeds to minimize dust when drilling or cutting brake or clutch parts.
  • Use machinery equipped with HEPA filtration.
  • Change your clothes before entering your home.
  • Wash contaminated laundry separately.
  • Keep bystanders, food, and drinks away from your work area.

Compensation for Auto Mechanics Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos-exposed mechanics who develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses may be eligible for substantial compensation through workers’ compensation, an asbestos trust fund, or a civil lawsuit. Damages may include the following:

  • Economic damages, which are monetary losses such as medical expenses and lost wages
  • Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Many auto mechanics experienced exposure through multiple points of asbestos exposure. You may be able to seek mesothelioma damages from more than one source.

Automotive Mechanics in the Military

If you worked as a mechanic in any branch of the military, whether you worked on automobiles, aircraft, or sea vessels, you may have been exposed to significant levels of asbestos. Military personnel exposed to asbestos while on active duty may be eligible for VA health care and disability compensation.

While you cannot sue the military, you may be able to sue manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that supplied asbestos to the military. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you identify all sources of exposure and all liable parties.

How The Lanier Law Firm Can Help

With over 25 years of experience helping automobile mechanics stand up to asbestos manufacturers, The Lanier Law Firm has developed an extensive asbestos product library regarding asbestos products and the asbestos industry.

These resources enable us to build the strongest case possible to ensure you receive the substantial compensation you deserve after being unfairly exposed to a deadly airborne toxin without protection, your knowledge, or your consent.

Although the link between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure is well-established, mesothelioma cases are not always straightforward. Asbestos companies have substantial monetary reserves to help them avoid taking responsibility. Standing up to these companies requires an experienced mesothelioma law firm who refuses to back down.

You can count on the dedicated and compassionate attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm to fight vigorously on your behalf. Our attorneys are among the most skilled litigators in the world. We refuse to accept less than you deserve. While we do everything we can to settle your case, we are unafraid to litigate in court if necessary.

When should I contact an attorney?

Every state sets a deadline, known as a statute of limitations, on when you must file your case. If you miss this deadline, you lose the right to seek compensation. The clock generally starts on the date you are diagnosed with a mesothelioma-related illness.

In some jurisdictions, you may have only one year to file a claim. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your diagnosis to ensure your attorney has sufficient time to build your case ahead of the filing deadline.

Contact a mesothelioma lawyer today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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