If your brakes aren’t working the brake lines are a common issue. Here, replacing them is a relatively simple way to fix issues ranging from clogs to cracks or even leaks.
On average, you should expect to replace your brake lines every 6-10 years depending on whether you have rubber or steel lines. Most importantly, you should have them inspected about every 2 years.
The average cost of replacing a brake line is $150-$300 depending on the car and which lines you’re replacing. Here, the rubber lines normally cost around $150 to replace and the steel lines bolted to the frame cost closer to $250-$300. Here, parts cost around $10-$90 and the rest is labor.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of brake line replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Brake Line Cost||Labor|
How Much Does Brake Line Replacement Cost?*
Replacing brake lines varies significantly depending on the vehicle, the time spent taking off the brake lines, new brake fluid, and other factors.
Here, your make and model will have some impact, especially on which new brake fluid you need.
For example, the following chart outlines normal costs to replace brake lines on several popular vehicle models.
|Vehicle||Brake Line Cost||Labor Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (April 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.Please select a valid form
Brake Line Replacement Pricing Factors
The cost of replacing your brake lines will depend on factors such as the type of brake hose, the fittings needed, how many brake lines you replace at once, and the cost of labor.
These costs usually map to your vehicle and its make and model.
The Brake Lines
Brake lines come in different materials, from generic brands, from your original manufacturer, and in high-performance varieties. This means the cost of your brake lines can vary significantly.
The cheapest brake lines are universal parts and usually start out at around $6 per line.
In most cases, your mechanic will replace brake hoses in sets of two – meaning you’ll pay $12 for parts. On the other hand, can pay up to $189 for a set of OEM brake lines. Costs vary significantly.
Here it may be important to check materials, fitting materials, and the warranty on the line.
For example, some brake lines are made of braided steel. These normally cost more but they will likely last longer – providing you live in a dry environment. If you live in a very wet environment, they may be more prone to rust.
Usually, it’s a good best practice to try to choose the same material as you had previously – unless your mechanic has another recommendation.
What’s the difference between different types of parts? Sometimes it’s about quality. Sometimes it’s just about who makes the part.
If you’re unsure, ask your mechanic for a recommendation. However, most parts will come with warranties and brake lines are usually good quality in universal and made to fit parts.
Cost of Labor
Labor costs usually account for half or more of the cost of replacing brake lines.
Here, you can expect to pay for about an hour of work to drain the brake fluid, replace a pair of brake lines, put new brake lines back in, refill the system, and then bleed the brakes. In some cases, your mechanic might spend a bit more time on the work.
However, you might spend up to 2 hours on this job. In addition, you’ll normally pay a shop or garage fee. This ranges from 5-20% of the total bill.
Here, most mechanics charge an average of $60 for an independent shop. National chains will usually start out at around $95 per hour. So, on average, you can expect to pay $60-$200 for labor costs including shop fees.
If you do the work yourself, you can save that money – however, bleeding the brakes yourself can be difficult.
New Brake Fluid
It’s almost always a good idea to flush the brake fluid when you change the brake lines. However, you may choose to skip this.
On the other hand, you should always bleed the brakes when you change the lines. This lets the air out and ensures that any contaminated brake fluid is out of the system.
In this case, you’ll also have to buy new brake fluid to top up the system. Here, you can expect brake fluid to range from about $6 to upwards of $30 depending on the brand and performance type.
Normally you can get away with just replacing the brake lines. However, replacing brake lines is a good time to check other parts of the brake system and replace those.
This will save you time and money, because you’ll cut down how many times you pay shop fees, buy new brake fluid, and disassemble the system.
Therefore, you might want to opt for a full brake checkup, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve replaced the calipers or shoes.
That can mean you spend $300-$500 all at once, but you’ll have a safer vehicle, and your brakes will likely be good for at least another 2 years.Please select a valid form
3 Symptoms of Bad Brake Lines
If your brake lines are going bad, chances are, you’ll notice in the form of a leak, failing brakes, or visible damage or issues to the lines.
And, of course, you can always check the lines and the rest of the brake system if the brake warning line comes on.
The following three symptoms are a good indicator that you want to check your brake lines or replace them.
1. Stiff or Soft Brake Pedal
If your brake pedal is very difficult to press down, it’s a good sign that the brake fluid pressure is off. Here, you’ll have to use more manual strength to move the brakes because the hydraulic assist will be working less optimally.
Unfortunately, this symptom can mean an issue in any part of the hydraulic braking system. However, it’s always a good reason to inspect the brakes and the brake lines, check the brake fluid, and check for vacuum leaks.
Here, you might also have issues with the pedal being too soft. Alternatively, your pedal might actually ride high and return to position at a slower rate than normal.
These are all signs that something is off with the brake hydraulics. That’s especially true if you’re actually having issues stopping or if you have to push the brake pedal for longer or harder to get the same braking.
The longer it takes to brake, the more important it is to have the issue fixed ASAP. This is especially important because brake issues tend to get worse, not better, ignoring a stiff brake pedal can result in brake failure.
2. Visible Damage on Brake Lines
If you inspect the brake lines, they should be rust-free, should not have cracks, and should not have stress marks or fractures in the rubber. If you live in a high snow or high humidity environment, you’ll want to inspect the lines for rust.
In most areas, the larger issue is likely to be rubber responding to heat and cold stress by cracking, fracturing, and splitting. This can result in leaks – so if you see that kind of damage, it’s usually a good idea to preemptively replace the lines – even if you aren’t having issues yet.
In fact, it’s often a good idea to replace your brake lines about every 6 years, whether or not they’re having issues. The repair is cheap enough that preventing an inevitable problem if you don’t replace them is well worth the investment.
3. Brake Fluid Leaks
If you’re leaking brake fluid, the brake hoses are a common source of leaks. Here, leaking can occur if the hoses wear out, if they are punctured, if they crack, or if the fittings start to wear out.
Normally you can isolate and find leaks by inspecting the lines. If there’s brake fluid everywhere, use brake cleaner and a disposable cloth to clean the lines, then turn the engine on and pump the brakes.
If you see new fluid leaks, they’re likely coming from there. Here, it’s always important to check and replace both lines of a set.
However, you might have simultaneous issues with both sets so make sure you check both.Please select a valid form
Changing Brake Lines: 9 Steps
Changing brake lines yourself is a relatively simple job. However, you will need a brake line wrench, which is a special flanged wrench. These are available for sale at any Autoparts store if you don’t already have them.
In addition, you’ll have to bleed the brakes after. You can have your mechanic do this. Alternatively, you can do it yourself with a small pump or even a turkey baster.
Things You’ll Need:
- New brake lines
- Flanged brake wrenches
- Replacement brake fluid
- Ratchet and socket set
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable towels/ shop towels
- Floor jack plus jack stands
You’ll have to bleed the brakes after you replace the brake lines. You can do this yourself or have a mechanic do it as part of a brake flush and bleed.
In addition, bleeding the brakes means you’ll need someone to help you to push the brake pedal while you hold the bleed valve open.
Changing Your Brake Lines
It’s important to change your brake lines in pairs, because the same factors that cause one half of the set to fail will cause the other half to fail.
You don’t have to replace all four lines at once, but it is important to replace them in a set.
- Jack up your car and stabilize it with jack stands.
- Locate the brake lines under the car, where they attach to the calipers. You should be able to unclip the retaining clip with your hands or with a pair of pliers.
- Then, turn the connector with a flanged wrench. Don’t put too much pressure on the line because it can cause the connector to bend.
- If the line is bracketed along the strut, remove those brackets. In most cases, you should just be able to loosen them enough to pull the line out.
- Disconnect the brake line from the master cylinder by undoing the retaining clip and turning the connecting nut.
- Attach the new hose to the brake caliper and place it in the brackets. Make sure you remember the washer at the caliper.
- Re-attach the brake using the retaining clip.
- Re-attach the line using the flared wrench.
- Bleed the brakes. You can do so by opening the bleeder cap and having someone pump the brakes to force air out. When you see fluid coming out, close the cap. It’s important to bleed brakes in the order specified in your manual. However, normally, it’s furthest to closest from the driver seat – so rear passenger, rear driver, passenger, driver.
If you have mounted brake lines, you’ll have to cut the lines first. Then, you’ll have to cut your new lengths to match. Otherwise, the steps are roughly the same.
However, you will have to install your own fittings on brake lines you cut yourself. In addition, it’s important to check if you have compression fittings or inverted flare fittings in your vehicle before doing so.
If you still have questions about changing your brake lines, this FAQ should help.
How long do brake lines last?
Rubber brake lines should normally be replaced every 5-6 years. Steel brake lines normally have to be replaced every 5-8 years depending on weather and humidity.
Here, it’s always a good idea to inspect the brake lines as part of your routine brake inspection – so you can see when things start to go wrong.
How long does it take to change brake lines?
You can usually change brake lines in about an hour.
However, that might vary depending on whether you have mounted brake lines or not.
Can you drive with bad brake lines?
You might be able to drive with bad brake lines. However, it might be extremely dangerous to do so.
A small leak won’t stop you from braking safely. However, it could worsen.
In addition, if the brake fluid is too low, you will have trouble braking. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to get your brake lines fixed as quickly as possible.
Replacing brake lines is a routine job and one that you should do several times over the lifetime of your car.
Luckily, it’s also a relatively easy job, whether you have it done at your mechanic or choose to do the work yourself.Please select a valid form