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Everything You Need To Know About Brake Line Repairs

February 3, 2021

Have you spotted a puddle of brake fluid under your car? Or is your brake light glowing, and you’ve noticed an unusual level of unresponsiveness in your brakes?

You know that something’s wrong with your brakes, but what could it be?

The braking system is an incredibly vital component of your car. If there are issues with the brakes, it’s best to get them checked ASAP.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, chances are you’re facing a brake line issue, and you’re going to need a brake line replacement.

In this article, we’ll delve into brake lines, how to spot problems with them, and the best option for brake line repair.

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Let’s get started.

What Is A Brake Line?

The brake line is a steel line that plays a crucial role in the functioning of the entire braking system.

Here’s a breakdown of how your brake system works:

When you press down on the brake pedal, it transmits pressure to the master cylinder, which then forces brake fluid along the brake line (also known as a brake pipe or brake tubing).

The fluid then travels to the cylinders located at each wheel, engaging the braking mechanism.

The caliper and brake pads will then squeeze the brake rotor to a stop. 

If your car uses drum brakes (that don’t use brake rotors), the wheel cylinder activates your brake shoes to slow the wheel.

What about the brake hose? Is it the same thing as your metal brake line?

Almost. 

The steel brake line is a rigid pipe – a lot like fuel lines and connected to your fuel tank.

On the other hand, the brake hose is typically a rubber hose that connects the hard brake line to your brake’s moving parts like the brake caliper.

Rubber brake lines are flexible as they move with the wheel suspension. Sometimes, instead of rubber lines, you’ll even find a flexible stainless steel braided hose instead. These supple stainless steel lines are more durable than the rubber hose – helping you avoid replacing them too often.

Now that we’ve covered what a brake line is, let’s get into what happens if your brake line fails:

What Happens If Your Brake Lines Are Damaged?

Brake failure can occur due to various reasons — with a broken brake line being one of the potential causes.

When your brake line is damaged, the hydraulics won’t function as the brake fluid can’t reach the tire’s braking mechanism.

To prevent complete brake failure from happening, most brake systems have two separate circuits – creating a split braking system.

The circuits can be either:

This way, if one brake line blows, you’ll still have another functioning line. 

Let’s say your rear brake line fails in a front – rear configuration — the back of your car will jump when you brake because the rear brake isn’t working, and you’ll start to skid. Fortunately, as your front brakes still work, you should still be able to bring the car to a halt.

The worst-case scenario is if both brake lines fail, as you’ll lose all function of your brakes. 

How To Identify Problems With Brake Lines

Brake lines are designed to last as long as your car, but that’s not always the case.

Here are the usual warning signs of a failing brake system:

1. There’s A Reduction In Braking Power

A tell-tale sign of brake line failure is noticing that your brakes are working intermittently or you have sudden difficulty in stopping the car. 

Note: This could also be due to worn brake pads or problems with the hydraulic components like the master cylinder. Always take your car to a professional to determine what the cause is.

2. The Brake Light Comes On

When the brake warning light turns on, it can usually mean one of two things. Either the brake fluid is low in the master cylinder, or (especially on an older vehicle) the parking brake is engaged.

In most cases, it’s a sign of low brake fluid, which in turn, could reflect a damaged brake line.

3. You Notice Brake Fluid Leakage

You can spot a brake fluid leak if there’s brake fluid on the ground. New brake fluid is typically transparent yellow, but it can turn brown as it breaks down over time. Checking your brake fluid reservoir level can help you easily identify a potential fluid leak in the brake tubing.

4. There’s Brake Line Damage

Physical damage like metal corrosion and cracks on your brake lines are a clear sign it’s time for a change. A rusted brake line can easily develop on cars parked for a long time without being driven.

Brake lines are also more susceptible to rust in cars driven in snowy environments where rock salt is used to thaw the icy roads.

What To Do If Your Brake Line Fails While Driving

In the event that you face brake line failure while you’re driving, don’t panic.

Remember, you have two sets of brake lines.

One set should still work.

Here’s what you should do:

1. Pump The Brakes

Pumping the brake pedal can build up pressure in the brake lines to give it a little bit more braking action. It won’t restore full braking capacity, but it can give you just enough braking power to control the car and stop safely.

This is similar to how an ABS pump would work to help prevent skidding.

2. Pull Over

Even if it’s a small leak in the brake line, don’t try to keep driving.

You can’t rely on faulty brakes to be able to stop safely in traffic. Pull over at the first safe spot you can find and have your car towed.

3. Don’t Pull The Parking Brake (Unless You’re Driving Very Slowly)

Parking brakes aren’t meant to stop a moving car. They’re designed to stop your vehicle from rolling from a stationary position. Pulling the parking brake at high speed can send you into a spin and damage the rest of your brake system.

Only use the parking brake if you’re driving at a very slow speed.

How Long Does A Brake Line Replacement Take?

Brake lines aren’t routed the same way in all vehicles. 

However, replacing your brake line is usually a quick process.

With a professional mechanic, it takes about one to two hours.

Your mechanic will have to remove the old brake line and put in a new one, or splice the bad section and replace it.

Before starting repairs, there are some necessary tools needed for the task. 

These would include:

Typically, these are the steps they’ll have to follow:

  1. They would then raise the car with a jack and remove the faulty brake line with a line cutter.
  2. Then, they’d take the new brake line, and make the necessary bends needed with a bender tool.
  3. After cutting the line to size (while leaving some to account for the flare), they’d file down all the coarse surfaces.
  4. After this, they’d install the brake line fittings on the line and flare the ends with a flare tool.
  5. Once the fittings are in place, they’d install the new brake line and secure each flared fitting.
  6. Finally, they’ll fill the brake master cylinder reservoir with brake fluid and bleed the system of air bubbles with the banjo bolt at the bleeder valve. Your mechanic may also use a scan tool at the end to check your braking system to ensure that everything is neatly in place.

But what if you don’t want to send your car to a shop?

DIY Brake Line Repairs: Are They Possible?

While you can replace your own brake line, it’s recommended that you leave the job to an experienced mechanic.

Remember, brakes are highly crucial to vehicle safety, so it’s important not to cut corners.

There’s no room for error when you’re fixing brake lines. A mistake could result in more damage to your vehicle, and more importantly, a serious accident on the road.

That’s why it’s always safer to trust in the expertise of a professional to do it for you.

Brake Line Replacement Cost

The average cost of brake line parts is around $30-50.

And on average, brake line replacements can cost anywhere between $150-$200, including labor cost.

However, the actual costs will vary by:

So, what’s the easiest way to get your brake lines repaired?

The Easiest Solution To All Your Brake Repair And Replacement Needs

When you’re looking for a mechanic to help you with your brake line replacement, make sure that they:

And luckily, there’s a super-simple way to ensure all of this.

RepairSmith is the most convenient car repair and maintenance solution, currently available in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Texas.

Here’s why RepairSmith should be your go-to repair option: 

To get an accurate estimate of what your brake line replacement will cost you, all you need to do is fill this online form.

Functional Brake Lines Keep Your Car In Line

Remember, your brakes keep you and your passengers safe. 

They also keep other drivers safe on the road.

So if your brake lines have a problem, don’t delay fixing them. 

It’s not the kind of technical issue that can wait for another day. 

Luckily, with RepairSmith, getting your brake lines replaced has never been easier! Get in touch today to keep your brakes functioning perfectly.