The hood liner of a car serves many useful purposes. A piece of material attached to the underside of the hood, it provides insulation against both heat and noise. The hood liner protects the paint on your car hood from damage due to the heat of the engine, and can provide some protection in case of an engine fire. It also keeps much of the engine and road noise from traveling into the car interior.
Manyhood liners, especially in older cars, were manufactured using asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a naturally occurring family of minerals that was often used in all types of building and automotive materials because of its strengthening and insulating properties. Automotive manufacturers found that adding asbestos fibers to hood liners increased the liners’ ability to provide both heat and sound insulation. The small, densely packed fibers that form asbestos give the mineral these desirable properties.
If the liner is intact and in good condition, there is no need to be concerned about the presence of asbestos. However, if the liner is damaged in any way – or if you are planning to replace the liner – there is a possibility that asbestos fibers may be released into the air. These fibers are extremely small and can be easily inhaled, embedding themselves in to the lining of the lungs. Once there, they can cause a variety of serious diseases, including asbestosis (scarring of the lungs),lung cancer or mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs). Often, symptoms of these diseases do not show up until fifteen to thirty years after exposure has occurred.
It is impossible to tell whether a hood liner contains asbestossimply by looking at it. Newer cars or car parts may have labels or spec sheets from the manufacturer that will give you this information, but those resources may not be available for an older car. Unless you know for sure, it is best to assume that asbestos is present and to proceed with caution.
When an automotive hood liner needs to be repaired or replaced, the most qualified person to handle the job can be found at a professional repair shop, which will usually have the proper equipment and safety procedures in place to handle potential asbestos-containing material. If you must replace the hood liner on your own, contact the Environmental Protection Agency or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for recommended guidelines that should be followed.