Brake Line Inspection Prevents Stopping Problems Down the Road

Brake lines enable that panicked emergency stop to end with a relieved sigh or nervous laughter instead of crumple and crunch.

The lines are integral but not indestructible, so routine inspections are crucial.

“A good visual inspection is the only preventative maintenance there is,” said Tim Beachboard, owner of FedHill Brake Line, a company that supplies brake lines to auto manufacturers.

Your brakes work thanks to hydraulic pressure. Pushing the brake pedal sends fluid through the lines, placing pressure on each wheel cylinder and bringing the car to a halt.

No matter if the cables are metallic or rubber, air and moisture are a brake line’s enemies and must be kept out. Moisture may seep through the rubber as hoses age, giving the brake pedal a spongy feeling.

“The weak link in the system is the rubber tube,” Beachboard said. “The rubber hoses don’t last forever,” Beachboard said.

Metal lines are more durable than rubber but carry the risk of corrosion. Visual inspections are especially important with metal lines because they don’t fail the way a rubber hose would.

“When metal lines go bad, you won’t feel any degradation in the pedal. Suddenly, you just have catastrophic failure and the vehicle won’t stop,” Beachboard said.

Dealerships and repair shops employ technicians trained to monitor condition of your brake lines. Technicians look at the brake fluid and the cable itself during a brake service or multi-point inspection to diagnose leaks.

Beachboard offered the following advice about brake lines and their maintenance:

  • Metal brake lines should be visually inspected for rust on the outside by a brake specialist or dealer mechanic.
  • Check your owner’s manual for brake fluid requirements. Some vehicle experts recommend replacing it every two years.