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Brake Pad Legislation

On September 27, 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill (SB) 346, known as the California Motor Vehicle Brake Friction Material Law. This law prohibits the sale of automobile brake pads sold in California containing more than trace amounts of copper, certain heavy metals, and asbestos. The purpose of this law is to reduce the amount of copper and other toxic substances released from brakes from entering California’s streams, rivers, and marine environment.

This law bans brake pads containing more than trace amounts of heavy metals and asbestos in 2014 and then also bans brake pads containing more than 5 percent copper in 2021. By 2025, the law reduces the amount of copper allowed to almost zero. Copper is toxic to many aquatic organisms and limiting the copper content of brakes is essential to comply with a federal Clean Water Act mandate, including copper water quality standards and copper total maximum daily loads in California’s urban watersheds.

The law requires that manufacturers comply with laboratory testing and to use a mark to certify their products comply with the restrictions set for brake pads. DTSC, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Brake Materials Environmental Task Force have developed the criteria for testing and marking brake pads that meet the restrictions listed below. Washington State passed a similar law earlier in 2010 and adopted regulations on October 19, 2012. 

On September 27, 2013, the law was amended as part of a cleanup bill (Assembly Bill 501) which added language to Health and Safety Code section 25250.51 of the California Motor Vehicle Brake Friction Material Law. Motor vehicle dealers may continue to sell or offer for sale vehicles equipped with brake friction material not compliant with the January 1, 2014 requirements if the brake friction material was installed on the vehicle before the dealer acquired the vehicle.

DTSC adopted regulations that became effective on January 1, 2017. The final regulation language and supporting documents for these regulations can be found on the DTSC Regulations Web Page.

Restriction
Date
SAE
Environmental
Marking
Description of Associated Action
On or After January 1, 2014 A

Prohibit the sale of any motor vehicle brake friction materials exceeding the following concentrations:

  • Cadmium exceeding 0.01% by weight.
  • Chromium (VI) salts exceeding 0.1% by weight.
  • Lead exceeding 0.1% by weight.
  • Mercury exceeding 0.1% by weight.
  • Asbestiform fibers exceeding 0.1% by weight.
On or After January 1, 2021 B Prohibit the sale of any vehicle brake friction material containing greater than 5% copper by weight in the state. This symbol also indicates the material meets the requirements listed for the “A” environmental marking.
On or After January 1, 2025 N Prohibit the sale of any vehicle brake friction material containing greater than 0.5% copper by weight in the state. This symbol also indicates the material meets the requirements listed for the “A” environmental marking.

 

The law requires brake friction material manufacturers to certify and mark that their products meet the prohibitions listed above by the restriction date.

Questions?

For questions regarding the California Brake Pad law, please contact either Melissa Salinas at 916-322-7636 or Suzanne Davis at 916-327-4206.

For questions regarding the Washington State Better Brakes law, please contact Sean D. Smith at 360-407-6747.

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