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What Does The Three Leaf Symbol Mean On Brake Pads?

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If you are a shop owner or technician, you most likely have seen the three-leaf symbol on the side of a box of brake pads. But do you know what it means and why it’s there? In this Tire Review Continental Tire Garage Studio video, we will answer those questions and more.

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The controversy that caused the three-leaf symbol to be used started due to copper in brake pads. Scientists realized that runoff from roads was filled with copper and the main contributor was the brake pads. They realized that copper in the water could short circuit the senses fish used to find their home. Then, they started to look at ocean ecosystems and began to see copper in plankton and up through the food chain. Many issues in the ocean were coming from the use of copper.

Environmental regulators then worked with the brake industry to set new standards and laws. What they came up with was a timetable for the phasing in of new products that limited copper levels and other harmful ingredients in friction materials. They also came up with a regulatory structure that rewarded companies who complied with the new standards. While the initial focus was on the fish, new regulations have made it safer for people who work on brakes and given the aftermarket a new level of accountability– long before scheduled mandates.

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When you see a three-leaf symbol, it indicates it is following the LeafMark laws, which require low-copper pads to contain less than 5% copper, by weight by 2021 and no-copper pads to contain less than 0.5%, copper, by weight by 2023. Along with other restrictions to ensure environmental safety. So when you see the three-leaf symbol on the side of a box of brake pads, it indicates a level of compliance and accountability.

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