Auto Mechanics & Mesothelioma

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral known for its heat resistance, strength and insulating properties. It was commonly used in the automotive industry prior to the 1990s. Mechanics may have encountered asbestos in vehicle brake pads, gaskets and insulation materials.

While today the industry has shifted away from asbestos products, older vehicles and aftermarket parts may still contain asbestos. Exposure to these parts can result in mesothelioma in mechanics and other automotive workers. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have a right to compensation options.

Understanding the Risk of Mesothelioma

Asbestos in vehicles reduced heat and corrosion, making it a valuable material for the auto industry. However, asbestos exposure also causes serious illnesses like mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart. Asbestos products release tiny fibers into the air that can become stuck in the lungs when they’re inhaled. They may eventually cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis and lung cancer.

Mesothelioma in mechanics typically develops after long-term, on-the-job exposure to asbestos-containing parts, like brake pads or gaskets, without proper protective measures. Military veterans may also have been exposed while working on vehicles, ships or aircraft, because asbestos was widely used in military equipment until the late 1970s.

Secondary exposure to asbestos is also a concern for mechanics’ families. This is when mechanics bring asbestos fibers home on their clothing, shoes and hair, possibly exposing other members of their household. If you or a loved one were injured after being exposed to asbestos while working as a mechanic, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation. Continue reading to learn more about your legal rights.

How Auto Mechanics Were Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos was found in automotive shops all over the U.S. from the 1920s until the late 1980s. It was used in many different auto parts, and anyone who worked with these parts could have been exposed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) didn’t enact asbestos regulations for workplaces until 1976, and it revised those regulations in 1986 and 1994.

Many occupations at risk for asbestos exposure didn’t have proper safety measures in place before the mid-1990s. This continues to contribute to cases of mesothelioma in mechanics and their families decades later. Mechanics often performed activities that could disturb asbestos-containing materials, including:

  • Repairing brakes: When mechanics grind or sand brake pads, it generates dust that is easily inhaled—and that may contain asbestos particles.
  • Using compressed air: Mechanics may use compressed air to clean brakes or other parts of a vehicle, but this can spread asbestos fibers in the brake dust into the air.
  • Removing gaskets: When mechanics remove or replace gaskets in vehicle engines without proper precautions, they can release asbestos fibers into the surrounding air.
  • Handling insulation materials: Older vehicles may have insulation materials that contain asbestos, presenting another risk for those repairing or replacing these parts.

In automotive shops, asbestos fibers were often released in a very fine dust that could linger in the air for a long time. This meant there was plenty of opportunity for mechanics and other workers in the shop to inhale the fibers, as well as get it on their clothing and shoes.

Automotive Parts Containing Asbestos and Their Manufacturers

Many companies known for asbestos exposure made automotive products for decades—even after they knew of the risks. Some well-known manufacturers that made asbestos-containing automotive parts include:

  • Abex Corporation
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • American Standard, Inc.
  • Bendix Corporation
  • B.F. Goodrich
  • Borg-Warner Automotive
  • Chrysler Corporation
  • Dana Corporation
  • Ferodo
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Motors
  • John Deere
  • Johns-Manville
  • Raybestos-Manhattan
  • Uniroyal Holding, Inc.

These companies and more made a number of different car parts that contained asbestos and could therefore cause mesothelioma in mechanics. Some of the most common were brakes, clutches, gaskets and sealants.


When a vehicle's brakes are engaged, friction between the brake pad and the rotor generates intense heat. Asbestos was extensively used in brake pads and linings because it could withstand these high temperatures, prolonging the lifespan of the brake components and ensuring reliable performance.


A car’s clutch connects the engine’s power to the transmission so it can change gears. Like brakes, clutches get very hot during operation of the vehicle. Manufacturers frequently incorporated asbestos in clutches to make them more durable, ensuring the car can change gears smoothly under any driving conditions.

Other Parts

Asbestos was also a common ingredient in the gaskets and sealants used in engines, which need to form tight seals to prevent leaks. Asbestos fibers would be mixed with rubber, silicone or another material to provide extra strength, flexibility and heat resistance and prevent the component from breaking down over time.

Mesothelioma Compensation for Auto Mechanics

Many auto manufacturers continued to use asbestos in their products for decades after they were aware of the links between asbestos exposure, mesothelioma and mechanics. Due to these companies’ negligence, mechanics with mesothelioma may have various legal options available to them to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages and more.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Mechanics may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against auto manufacturers who knowingly used asbestos in their products without warning users about the risks. Your attorney will help you provide evidence linking your illness to asbestos exposure, such as medical records, employment history and expert testimony. Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney and Meisenkothen (ELSM) has won lawsuits in the millions of dollars, including a $6 million-dollar verdict for an Oklahoma man who was exposed to asbestos while working as an auto mechanic.

Asbestos Trust Funds

Some auto manufacturers established asbestos trust funds as part of bankruptcy proceedings. These trust funds were designed to ensure that victims of a company’s products receive compensation even if they go out of business. Mechanics with mesothelioma can file claims to receive a pre-set trust fund payout, which can range on average from $3,000 to $100,000 or more.

Workers Compensation and Veterans Benefits

The majority of asbestos exposure occurs on the job, and mechanics are no exception. If you or your loved one was exposed at work and developed an asbestos-related illness, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, if you were exposed during military service, you may be entitled to veterans’ benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you navigate all of the options that may be available to you.

Speak With a Lawyer and Know Your Rights

Mechanics faced significant asbestos risks due to their frequent exposure to asbestos-containing automotive parts, especially before the 1990s. The health consequences of this exposure may not appear for decades, but if it does, it can be life-altering.

It’s important for mechanics with mesothelioma to work with a law firm that specializes in these types of lawsuits. They’ll have the knowledge and expertise to build a strong case on your behalf and hold auto manufacturers accountable for their negligence.

If you or someone you love has been affected by mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in the automotive industry, contact ELSM Law today for a free case evaluation. Our team of dedicated attorneys has focused exclusively on mesothelioma cases for more than 40 years, and we’ll fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

Request a Free Case Evaluation

Request a free case evaluation now if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The evaluation will cost you nothing. Our lawyers will travel to visit you at your convenience or conference call with you over the phone. We understand how difficult a time this is for you and will assist in any way that we can. You can also call us toll-free at 1-800-336-0086 at any time.