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Summary
  • Brake line replacement costs vary between vehicles, but you can expect to spend anywhere between $5 and $220.
  • Brake lines are flexible tubes that connect the brake caliper (and sometimes the ABS pump) to the master cylinder and hard lines.
  • Whenever you press on the brake pedal, the master cylinder pressurizes the brake fluid inside, causing the fluid to surge through the brake hoses to reach the brake calipers.

Your vehicle’s brake lines need frequent inspection for corrosion or damage that causes brake fluid leaks. Replace the faulty line at the earliest instance before it can affect the rest of the brakes.

Brake line replacement costs vary between vehicles. Each new line can set you back anywhere between $5 and a staggering $220. If you bring your vehicle to an auto service center, you can get saddled with labor costs that range from $80 to $250. Factors such as your vehicle’s make, model, and year as well as local labor rate can affect the final cost to replace your brake line.

What Is a Brake Line?

Brake lines are flexible tubes that connect the brake caliper (and sometimes ABS pump) to the master cylinder and hard lines. They are also called brake hoses. Made from strong yet elastic materials, they can bend to compensate for suspension travel or vibration isolation.

How Does the Brake Line Work?

Brake lines play a simple but major role in stopping your vehicle. When you press your foot down on the brake pedal, the master cylinder pressurizes the brake fluid inside it. The fluid surges through the brake hoses to reach the brake calipers, which engage and stop the wheels from rotating.

different car brake line designs
Brake lines play a simple but major role in stopping your vehicle.

Every part is vital to the brake system working as designed, and the brake lines are no exception. A bad line can lead to loss of brake pressure, which is a safety hazard.

What Does a Brake Line Replacement Entail?

It’s important to know how professional mechanics replace brake lines. Here’s what’ll happen to your vehicle when you bring it in for a brake line replacement.

Wheel Removal

The mechanic will use a floor jack to lift the wheel or axle where the broken brake line is. Then, they’ll remove the wheels of your vehicle to get better access to your vehicle’s brake hose.

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Brake Line Removal

The mechanic will carefully remove the bad brake line to avoid bending or damaging it. This is crucial because the next step requires an intact, unchanged brake line.

Replacement Brake Line Adjustment

The mechanic will place the replacement brake line and place it side by side with your old one. With the help of a tubing bender, the mechanic matches up the old and new lines before bending the replacement into shape.

Once the replacement part looks like the original, the mechanic will use a cutting tool to ensure they are roughly the same length.

The mechanic will place the cutter tool a quarter of an inch away from the end of the mark on the new line. Then, they’ll sever everything beyond that point and flare the line with a flaring kit.

Brake Line Installation

With your new brake line bent, cut, and flared, it’s ready for installation. The mechanic will set it up, taking extra care to make sure it doesn’t rub against any other parts.

Brake System Bleeding

Once the new brake line is in place, the mechanic will bleed your brake system of air. This is because excess air will inevitably enter the system in the middle of replacing brake lines.

Types of Brake Lines

There are two types of brake lines based on material: rubber and stainless steel. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Rubber Brake Lines

The majority of today’s vehicles are equipped with rubber brake lines. Each hose features an inner hose that keeps brake fluid from leaking and several layers of rubber wrapped around the liner.

These brake lines can run around cramped corners and spaces without any problem, thanks to the rubber’s flexibility. They are also budget-friendly as they cost less than their steel counterparts while delivering good performance.

Steel Brake Lines

Steel brake lines have inner hoses with steel threads woven over them, making them look like metal ropes. While they are less flexible than rubber lines, they don’t swell as much under pressure. Thus, brakes with stainless steel brake lines respond better to input.

These brake lines are also less likely to get damaged by debris thrown up by the wheels on the road. They cost more, but you will get your money’s worth with steel brake lines.

What are the Common Symptoms of a Bad Brake Line?

Certain warning signs appear when a brake line develops a fault. These symptoms include:

man inspects car brake hose and brake line
Certain warning signs appear when a brake line develops a fault.

Brake Fluid Leakage

Pressurized brake fluid puts a lot of stress on the brake hose’s inner liner. Eventually, the fluid-resistant liner degrades to the point that it can spring a leak. This diminishes the pressure and amount of fluid that reaches the brakes. A leak also drains your vehicle’s brake fluid reserves, forcing you to top it off more often to replace the wasted fluid.

Check the ground beneath your vehicle for any sign of brake fluid leaks, such as puddles of clear or auburn brown fluid or a fishy smell. Then inspect the brake lines for any visible damage through which the fluid is escaping.

See also  What Happens to Your Vehicle When You Slam on the Brakes Often?

Brake Fluid Light Illuminates

There is a switch that turns on the brake fluid light if the reserves have reached a dangerously low level. The switch circuit ties into your car’s computer system, leading to the ABS light turning on because of low brake fluid.

Brake Pedal Sinks All the Way to the Floor

The brake pedal should stay at a comfortable height over the floorboard. If the pedal sinks all the way, you could have a bad brake line on your hands. You might need to stop driving your vehicle when you encounter this problem because your brake line may be on its last legs before failure.

Slower Brake Response

A bad brake hose can also make the brakes less responsive to the brake pedal. If it takes a long time for your vehicle to come to a halt after you step on the pedal, it might mean that the brake lines aren’t able to supply the brakes with adequate pressurized fluid.

Moisture and Corrosion

Brake fluid leaks can also cause moisture to form on the brake lines. A steel brake hose can corrode after prolonged exposure to wet conditions, especially if its anti-corrosion coating has been compromised by road debris.

Spongy Brakes

Do you feel like you’re stepping on a sponge when you’re hitting the brake pedal? In many cases, the spongy sensation stems from air bubbles that have entered the brake system through a leaking brake line.

Is It Safe to Drive With a Bad Brake Line?

Faulty brake lines will make it harder for your vehicle to stop quickly. Driving with a bad brake hose is not safe.

If you confirm that the brake lines need replacement, it’s best to stop your vehicle immediately. Instead, call a towing service and have your vehicle towed to a trusted auto service shop.

When Should You Replace the Brake Line?

Most brake lines will start showing signs of serious wear around 100,000 miles. Even if they don’t act up at that mileage, it never hurts to replace all the brake hoses.

Recommended Brake Line Brands

To help you find reliable replacement brake lines, we identified the best brands available today:

Centric

Centric designs, builds, and tests every brake line to make sure its product meets quality standards. These brake hoses fit snugly and possess anti-leak features to ensure the right amount of brake fluid flows uninterrupted to the brakes.

AC Delco

Restore your vehicle’s braking performance with AC Delco brake lines that fit and work like stock parts. An official manufacturer for General Motors Corporation, it produces both original GM brake hoses and premium replacement lines for many other makes and models.

Dorman

Avoid brake fluid leaks and road accidents by replacing faulty brake liners with sturdy Dorman products. They come with features like copper washers and integral brackets that make installation easier. Choose from a wide selection of styles while staying secure in the knowledge that Dorman brake lines meet rigorous safety standards.

See also  Brake Hoses Guide: Types and FAQs About Replacement

Beck Arnley

Beck Arnley sources precisely designed brake lines from across the world to meet your vehicle’s unique requirements. Built with premium components, its long-lasting products offer precise fit and performance that matches brand new, factory-issue parts.

Motorcraft

When it comes to dependable brake lines for a Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury, you can’t go wrong with Motorcraft. It is the Ford Motor Company’s official automotive aftermarket division, producing original and replacement lines according to stringent OE standards. Motorcraft brake lines are simple to stall and provide exact fit and functionality.

Brake lines are simple yet critical parts of your vehicle’s brakes. You should always stay on top of their needs, especially if they have worn out and need replacement. When you go looking for a new brake line, check its compatibility with your vehicle before sealing the deal.

Bleed the Brake System After Replacing Brake Lines

After replacing the brake lines, you must bleed the brakes to remove any air that entered the system during the replacement. Depending on the vehicle, you might need a scan tool. You might also have to activate the ABS and follow the recommended procedure. Consult the relevant repair manual if you encounter any problems.

Brake lines are simple yet critical parts of your vehicle’s brakes. You should always stay on top of their needs, especially if they have worn out and need replacement. When you go looking for a new brake line, check its compatibility with your vehicle before sealing the deal.

Whenever you replace your brake hoses, you must also bleed the brake system, which can be tricky depending on the vehicle. In some cases, a scan tool is required to bleed the brakes.

Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Get New Brake Lines Online Here at CarParts.com

Faulty leaking brake lines can cause weak or malfunctioning brakes. This is the last thing you want, especially during an emergency braking situation. If you discover that your brake lines are either rusted, leaking, or damaged, then you should probably replace them. Good thing CarParts.com allows you to shop for the right brake line easily.

CarParts.com has thousands of brake lines to choose from, so you can find the right brake line for your needs. Our brake lines can come in a wide range of lengths, materials, and set inclusions. They can also be installed in all sorts of locations. You can be confident that they’ll last, as they’re made with the same manufacturing techniques and specifications as the original component.

Shop for a new brake line here at CarParts.com today and we’ll deliver your part in as fast as two business days!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Contact Center Manager and Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

William “Bill” Guzenski has produced hundreds of how-to videos for the automotive community. He’s an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician, and is affiliated with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). He loves attending race events and car shows throughout the country, as well as traveling in his 40-foot motorhome, exploring abandoned mines and ghost towns.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

Bosch
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