Washington and California ban sale of certain Chevrolet Camaros because their brake pads are toxic to fish

Washington and California ban sale of certain Chevrolet Camaros because their brake pads are toxic to fish
The 2021 Camaro ZL1's brake pads have too much copper in them to be legal in California and Washington.Chevrolet
  • California and Washington both have bans on how much copper can be used in brake pads.
  • The laws go into effect in 2021, which means that high-performance versions of the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro are affected.
  • Dealers cannot order the cars until Chevrolet comes out with a fix, a company spokesperson told GM Authority.

The poor Chevrolet Camaro.

The first of its woes came in the form of its 2019 facelift, which looked, uh, questionable. Now we've just learned that selling the sportier 2021 Camaro SS and ZL1 trims is illegal in Washington and California due to the copper in their brake pads, according to enthusiast blog GM Authority and via Autoblog.

"As of November of 2020, dealers located in the states of California and Washington are no longer able to order new 2021 Chevy Camaro SS, 2021 Camaro 2SS, 2021 Camaro ZL1, or 2021 Camaro ZL1 1LE models," GM Authority wrote. "The restrictions apply to both the coupe and the convertible body styles."

The reason for this is because of California's Hazardous Materials: Motor Vehicle Brake Friction Materials law. Approved on September 10, 2010 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the law forbids the sale of cars with brake pads with more than 5% copper by weight from being sold in the state starting on January 1, 2021.

Washington has a similar law.


When you brake, your brake pads clamp down around the brake disc, which generates brake dust. Brake pads that have a high amount of copper in them shed more copper that can then appear in stormwater runoff, which is toxic to "fish, invertebrates, plants, and amphibians," according to the EPA.

The agency called out copper as being poisonous to salmon in particular, reporting that the metal affects their sense of smell, which makes them less capable of evading predators.

When reached for comment, a General Motors spokesperson told GM Authority, "Due to restrictions in California and Washington state related to copper brake pads, customers in those states cannot order a 2021 Camaro SS, ZL1, and 1LE for delivery after January 1, 2021. Customers can, however, purchase these models from available dealer stock in those states."

The spokesperson added, however, that once the automaker introduces a new, copper limit-compliant brake system for the 2022 model-year cars, dealers can start ordering them again.

The cars affected by the copper limitations are the Camaro's high-performance variants, so it's possible that the issue lies in the materials used in the upgraded brakes.


Once the brakes become more environmentally friendly, though, buyers are free to go back to purchasing sports cars powered by 6.2-liter V8s.