1970 Volkswagen Beetle - Asbestos pads

Do JC Whiney brake pads for my 1965 VW bug contain asbestos?

Look for the contact list on the JC Whitney web site . But as far as I know asbestos has not been used in brake pads for years . But apparently there are still some out there but if they do there has to a material Data Sheet saying so.

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You do mean brake shoes, correct? If it’s got brake pads then they’re not original to a 65 Bug and shoes aren’t going to fit.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

Yes, shoes…


Maybe the original shoes had asbestos, but shoes and pads sold in the past 30 years or so do NOT have asbestos.

Actually that ban was overturned in court, so pads/shoes can contain asbestos.

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I understand that some, perhaps most of these brake shoes for older VWs, are made in Latin America or other third world locations and that there are no laws in the US banning the presence of asbestos in imported products. As such, I am wondering if we can be sure of the “fact” that these shoes do NOT have asbestos? I am doing work for the USEPA and this is a critical issue. My sense is that, without a focused investigation, this question cannot be answered with a high degree of certainty; however, I am open to understanding verifiable facts related to this issue.

Any idea as to how many vintage (pre-1970) bugs are currently in the US?

Best Wishes,


You are wrong. Asbestos brake pads are not allowed to be sold in the US. So they are not allowed to be imported.


You must be posting from an alternate reality where the country is sane and not hijacked by business interests. :wink:

From your link:

But the EPA proposed ban was eventually overturned in the courts. // So asbestos is still with us. Though U.S. auto makers say they no longer use brake or clutch linings that contain any asbestos, such is NOT true for many aftermarket suppliers of replacement brake pads and shoes, and clutch linings.


You may be right. But I know I haven’t been able to buy pads/shoes with Asbestos in decades. They are either Organic or Metalic and recently - Ceramic. I don’t know of any parts store that sells pads that contain asbestos. Why take the liability.

From what I read, there’s no way to tell, unless it’s labeled “asbestos free”. So those pads could still have asbestos.

The EPA has old Volkswagen Type 1s? What’s the big deal about a little asbestos in brake and clutch material? I know, I now, it’s terrible stuff, right?

Is this about Volkswagen brakes or EPA bans?

I owned a 64 Bug in 1965, bought a brand new 71 Super Beetle in 1971, and wore them both out, worked at Volkswagen dealers during that era, too.

I guess asbestos is now the new mercury (which we played with in Elementary School Science classes and during High School) or lead (which i grew up, melting it to make sling shot ammo and fishing sinkers.)

There has got to be bigger, more pressing concerns for the EPA to spend my tax dollars on. Isn’t there some kind of climate change crisis (global warming, following global cooling, to be followed by more global cooling) to chase around?

I’m more concerned with eating red meat and consuming added sugar and saturated fat, which some people still do and “the government” still allows it. Just saying…
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

And the reason that stuff is banned is because the health problems people experienced with it. Lead isn’t a problem? Tell that to Flint Michigan.

Lead only becomes toxic when ingested. Mercury on other hand is very Toxic. There’s a reason people who made hats were called Mad Hatters. They would go crazy due to Mercury Poisoning. And some Mercury is EXTREMELY toxic. A lab worker died of it here in NH a few years ago. She was exposed to .1 grams. Dead within hours.

Asbestos becomes a problem when inhaled. Handling new brake pads/shoes with Asbestos in it is perfectly fine. However replacing pads/shoes where there’s brake dust all over the place…not so fine. Long term exposure can be lethal. Even short term exposure if the right amount.

EPA doesn’t control food. That’s the USDA or NSDU…or a few others.

Gee I wonder why we NEED these agencies. Could it be because businesses only care about profit and that they could care less if what we use or eat kills us? To have to tell a company that they can’t add poisons to our food is really disgusting. Wouldn’t it be nice if they actually did it without being told?


From the above it seems one way to get asbestos-free pads/shoes is to buy OE. Which isn’t a bad idea, anyway.

Some might suspect these practices led to the generational insanity that produced the mess we’re in right now. . .

It’s never a good idea to say “well I did it and didn’t die, and therefore it’s perfectly safe and shouldn’t be dealt with!”

Such thinking led to the Challenger explosion (well we launched with the flawed, leaky booster rockets before and didn’t blow anyone up, and therefore we will never blow anyone up with it) and the Columbia disaster (well we launched with the flawed ET that rained shrapnel down on the orbiter before and didn’t condemn anyone to die in a fire, and therefore we will never kill anyone with it), Dale Earnhardt’s death (well I raced without a HANS device many times in the past and didn’t die, and therefore screw safety, I’m The Intimidator!), the death of every kid that gets run over at an uncontrolled intersection (we shouldn’t put a stopsign there because no one has been killed yet), etc.

“Prove that it’s not safe” is a dumb way to address safety. “Prove that it IS safe” is the smarter approach. Under that approach, just because you, personally, have played with hazardous materials that are known to cause brain damage, and you, personally, are not aware of having sustained any brain damage from doing so (though honestly, how would anyone know if their own brain was damaged absent a neurological diagnosis) does not mean that the material should be regarded as generally safe and left unregulated.


The engineers warned their higher-ups of the potential problem. But then politics got in the way of science. Gee I wonder how that works out?


I couldn’t tell you how many there are, but if you are worried that those old VWs are still running around with asbestos-laden brake shoes, let me assure you that those old brakes wore out many decades ago, and were replaced with non-asbestos brakes. My brother had a '64 bug, and he used to replace the rear brakes every 8-10k miles, and the front brakes were usually only good for ~15k miles.

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Wow, thank you for much! I am working on the USEPA Science Advisory Board on this question and this information is critically important.

Best regards,


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You wrote:
“You are wrong. Asbestos brake pads are not allowed to be sold in the US. So they are not allowed to be imported.”

Did you read the link you provided? The ban was overthrown by the Courts in the US. It is cheaper to make them overseas with this stuff - I cannot help but think the economics is driving this oversea after market - without definitive proof one has to assume that it is there. I am open to reviewing that proof.


Did you not read that I backed off on my statement and then admitted that asbestos may still be used?