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Asbestos & Classic Cars


Classic car enthusiasts certainly took a hit when it came to the ban on asbestos in New Zealand and Australia. Asbestos Removals Marlborough looks at asbestos in the car industry and how the industry has changed to ensure its survival.


Asbestos was hailed as the miracle material for many years. This was particularly true in the automotive industry. Considering asbestos is not only wonderfully fire retardant but also long-lasting and durable. However, once the health implications were noted and action was taken to ban this toxic fibre it left many in the industries it was primarily used in, scrambling for a substitute.


In previous years, asbestos was widely utilised in the automotive industry. It was the hero in coping with friction and heat - making it a very attractive component in the development of cars. Not only that – it was cheap. Very cheap, making it the ideal material for replacement parts.


Asbestos was commonly found in:
  • Clutch discs

  • Brake pads & linings

  • Fiberglass and plastic bodywork

  • Insulation

  • Transmission

  • Gaskets

  • Valve rings


Sadly, many garages and automotive repair business owners suffered the consequences of working so closely with asbestos. Many suffering from asbestos-related diseases throughout the years.


Today asbestos has been replaced by a range of other products, with technology leading the way to produce high-quality products that can do the job at hand, without the risk to the repairer or the owner of the vehicle.


Australia and NZ have a total ban when it comes to automotive parts that contain any asbestos. However other countries do not. Even in the USA some brake pads are still manufactured utilising asbestos. New classic car enthusiasts are encouraged to check that the parts they are possibly importing into the country do not contain any asbestos. These products are stopped at the border and destroyed accordingly to keep the toxic fibre out of the country.


It's also good to note that if you have a classic car that has not had any major repair that it could still possibly contain asbestos. Having it checked well before you start any DIY work on your car is imperative. Many unsuspecting people have been exposed to asbestos through DIY work and it’s important to keep yourself safe with any repairs when it comes to classic cars.


The importation of asbestos-containing products or ACPs was banned in New Zealand in 2016. After this date, all cars and replacement parts were required to be asbestos-free. However, older cars may still contain asbestos-related parts and bodywork.


Classic Cars & Asbestos


The only major problem is for classic car owners. As they own cars that predominately only use asbestos-related products and parts, replacing these can be a little tricky. Many importers and enthusiasts noticed very quickly, particularly in countries that had banned asbestos, that getting parts needed into the country was basically impossible.


In Australia and New Zealand, many classic cars were impounded at the border unless they possessed a certificate declaring that the car was asbestos-free. These certificates had to be declared by a fully qualified Asbestos Surveyor that was a professional in classic cars and mechanics. For many, this was a big hit not only to the hip pocket – but also to the entire industry.


The great news is, like any evolving business, the classic car industry redeveloped the wheel and quickly adapted to the new change. Many classic car repair professionals now offer asbestos testing and provide asbestos-free parts for their clients.


As with any industry affected by asbestos, it’s always best to be safe. If you have a classic car and you are unsure of the parts it contains and if it is asbestos or not, get it checked by a professional. This is particularly true for cars that have been in the country before 2016. Never undertake any work yourself until you are 100% sure the parts do not contain asbestos.


With all asbestos, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It only takes a short time to become exposed and possibly affected with an incurable asbestos-related disease.


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