Brake Pads and Asbestos
Asbestos was once considered the best material to build all sorts of brake pads and shoes. The entire American automotive industry began using asbestos in brake part manufacturing as early as the 1920s.
Although the dangers of asbestos fiber exposure became well known by the 1980s, asbestos brake installation continued in U.S.-built vehicles well into the 2000s. Brake components made with asbestos are still widely available on foreign, aftermarket products.
Cars, trucks, and buses weren’t the only vehicles with asbestos brake pads. Every sort of motion device required braking power.
Asbestos seemed to make good sense for friction control and withstanding high heats associated with stopping moving parts. Asbestos had excellent wear properties, was widely available and proved economical.
Asbestos brake pads were utilized in:
- Aircraft brakes including military and civilian airplanes
- Railroad locomotives and freight cars
- Ship drivelines, propeller and anchor systems
- Heavy equipment like dozers, excavators and rock trucks
- Cranes and hoist devices