Your car’s brake system is one of the most essential systems on your vehicle. Without properly working brakes, you would not be able to drive your vehicle. The brake lines on your car have the vital job of containing your brake fluid and holding pressure as you press your brake pedal. If any of your lines develop a leak or start to corrode, then they should be replaced immediately. Although they are designed to last for quite some time, they will probably need replacing at some point if you keep your car long enough. So, just how much will a brake line replacement cost you? We will tell you the average cost of this job plus give you some tips for performing the work yourself. Keep reading to learn all the details.
Average Brake Line Replacement Cost
So, how much does it cost to replace a brake line? As always, the make and model of your vehicle will greatly impact the cost of any auto repair, including a brake line replacement. Another thing that will impact the cost of the repair job is specifically which brake line needs to be replaced. Replacing the rubber line from the brake caliper to the rigid metal brake lines under the car will not be as expensive as replacing the rigid lines that run the length of the vehicle.
On average, you can expect a repair bill of $150 to $300 to replace a brake line on your vehicle. You might be wondering, “How much does a brake line cost?” While the actual line might only cost you $50, there are several steps involved that will add to the labor cost. First, the old line will need to be removed and replaced with the new line. Next, the mechanic will need to bleed the entire brake system to remove any air from the lines that may have entered during the replacement. The whole process will take a couple of hours. Since labor costs generally run from $75 to $100 per hour, brake line replacement will incur about $150 in labor charges.
What Is A Brake Line & How Does It Work?
Brake lines carry the brake fluid in your vehicle from your master cylinder to your brake calipers. The lines run from the master cylinder and go underneath the vehicle to the rotor on each wheel. The lines running under the vehicle are rigid metal lines. They are usually made of steel, although some vehicles have upgraded stainless steel lines on them. Once the lines reach the general area of your wheel, then the rigid metal line is attached to a rubber hose line. The rubber is flexible enough to allow some movement as your wheels spin and turn. Not just any rubber line will work, though – rubber brake lines are reinforced and can withstand up to 1,000 psi!
Brake hoses and lines allow hydraulic pressure to be used to bring your car to a stop. When you press your brake pedal, the piston inside the master cylinder is compressed. This forces brake fluid further into the lines. As that fluid is forced into the lines, the pressure builds and causes the piston in your brake caliper to squeeze the brake pads against the rotors. When this happens, your car slows to a stop. Drum brakes work similarly, although the fluid causes the brake shoes to press against the inside of the drums. If your brake lines did not properly hold pressure, then this entire process would not be possible.
How Long Do Brake Hoses Or Lines Last?
Thankfully, brake lines and hoses generally last a very long time. In most cases, the lines on your car should last at least 100,000 miles. Many people own their cars for years and never have to worry about replacing a brake line. As you might expect, the rubber lines will wear out more quickly than the metal lines.
Over time, the rubber lines will become hard and brittle. They might rupture or even develop a vacuum inside that prevents fluid from being pushed through. The steel brake lines can get rust and corrosion, especially if you live in a climate that exposes your vehicle to salt. Rusted brake lines can get clogged with rust and other debris. This can push debris into your calipers and cause damage to your anti-lock braking system. A bad brake line will cause an immediate loss of braking power, so you will notice it right away. If you do, then get your car to a professional mechanic right away.
How To Tell When You Need Brake Line Replacement
So, how do you know when you need a brake hose replacement? There are a few symptoms that you can watch for to determine when it’s time to get new brake lines. Here are some of the most common ones.
— Leaking Brake Line
If you have a leaking brake line, then it’s time for a replacement immediately. If you notice a brake fluid leak, then get your car to an automotive repair shop as soon as possible. A leak can cause your entire braking system to fail, and you might find yourself in an accident if you drive your car in this condition. A mechanic can diagnose the problem and determine whether the leak is coming from your wheel cylinder, master cylinder, or brake line. Whatever the cause, the repair will need to be performed before you attempt to drive your car again.
— Bent Brake Line
We already discussed that there are a few different types of brake lines on your vehicle. The rigid metal lines can become bent and damaged, especially if they are hit with road debris or other items. If you notice that any of your lines are bent, then that line should be replaced. A bent line will not allow your brake fluid to flow as it should, and it could lead to a loss of stopping power. On the other hand, it might cause the fluid to stay compressed even after you stop pressing the pedal. Either issue is not good, and a new line should take care of the problem.
— Rusted Or Corroded Brake Line
Many people opt to upgrade to stainless steel brake lines because they are less likely to rust than the typical steel lines. However, your lines can become rusted and corroded both on the outside and inside. Keeping clean brake fluid in your system will help prevent rust on the inside of your lines, but it still happens eventually. When you notice rust on the lines, you might be pushing rust and other debris into your ABS sensors and calipers. This can cause additional damage and also prevent your braking system from working properly. You might then be looking at additional money for brake pad replacement costs, ABS sensor replacement, or even caliper replacement. Since a new brake line is relatively inexpensive, you should not delay in getting the rusted line replaced.
DIY Brake Line Replacement Tips
If you have some mechanical experience, then you might decide to replace your own brake line. It can save you quite a bit of money on brake line repair costs over taking your car to the dealership for the repair. There are, however, a few things that you need to keep in mind when performing this job. First, remember that incorrectly doing the job can have serious consequences. If you do not know how to do the job properly, then do not attempt it. Next, remember that brake fluid is corrosive. If you get it on your vehicle’s paint, it will damage the paint quickly.
To perform the job as easily as possible, you will need a few specialized tools. These include a flare tool, bleeder tool, and line wrenches. Once you have located the old brake line that needs to be replaced, go ahead and remove it. Replace it with the new line and refill the master cylinder to the proper level. Now it is time to bleed the system. If any air worked its way into the lines, then it must be removed. Otherwise, your pedal will feel spongy, and your car will not stop properly. Most people recommend bleeding the rear brakes first and then the front brakes. A bleeder tool will make this job much easier, although you can do it with a wrench and a partner. Be sure to test drive the vehicle at a slow speed and stop several times before getting up to highway speeds in case there are any issues.
The Bottom Line
Replacing a brake line is not an overly expensive repair, and you can even perform the job yourself if you have a little experience. If you have a Chevy, Toyota, Honda, or Nissan, then this job will likely only cost you about $250. High-end vehicles like a BMW or Mercedes will cost you a little more – probably in the $400 to $500 range. If you notice leaks or rust on your lines, then make sure you have the repair done soon. Brakes are not something that you want to wait on!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are brake lines easy to replace?
Brakes lines are not that difficult to replace. Usually, the hardest part of the job is bleeding the system after you have replaced the line. A bleeder tool makes that process much more manageable. Otherwise, you will need a partner to press and hold the brake pedal as you loosen the bleeder screw.
Can you drive a car with a leaking brake line?
No, you should never drive a car with a leaking brake line. A leaking line will not hold sufficient pressure in the system, and it could fail completely. This means that you might be unable to stop your vehicle while driving, and that could be extremely dangerous for you and others on the road.
How do you know if your brake line is leaking?
In some cases, you might see a small puddle of brake fluid around one of your wheels. At other times, you might not notice any visible fluid on the ground. However, your brake pedal probably feels different. It might feel softer, or it continues to sink toward the floor as you press it. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should have a mechanic check things out.