While getting ready to put new brake pads on my daughters 1996 Taurus, I
discovered the steel brake lines have rusted through and are leaking. I
jacked up the car and removed the rusted lines, then headed down to the
auto parts store. Unfortunately, no one seems to carry the right size
tubing that has the proper fitting. I've been to four different auto parts
stores and come up empty.
I checked with the Ford dealer, but they don't carry brake lines and said
to check with auto parts stores. Great.
I considered buying raw tubing, fittings, and flaring tools to make my own,
but I can't find those locally either.
The Taurus appears to use a larger fitting with a "bubble" style flare on
the tubing ends. I can find straight tubing with the right flare, but the
fittings are always too small.
So now what? Where can I find brake lines to fit the Taurus?
advance auo parts has the most end adaptors around here , and the
metric line also. sometimes you have to buy a new line and reuse the old
fittings .just cut off with tubing cutter and reflare the ends.most
auto zones have a flareing tool you can rent. ,,,,, sometimes i use the
old style inverted flare line and an adaptor on each end ....... about
flareing, in the 70,s when i tried to flare brake line it would
split,but this new line is much softer and flares well.. lucas
Not all auto parts stores are well stocked, you need one that does a
lot of wholesale-to-mechanics work. I usually go to a NAPA (former
Big-A) store for those things, they have a really deep stocking
assortment. Those stores will be the ones with a decent assortment of
brake line and fittings.
They can order it in. Might take a few days and cost you a bloody
fortune, but they'll be the exact lines you need, pre bent and flared
and with the right fitting nuts and fastening tabs.
One word of warning: No matter how tempting NEVER use copper tubing
on a car or truck for brake or oil or fuel lines. It will work-harden
and fracture, leading to catastrophic failure.
You may have to do it piecemeal - order the right flare nuts at the
Ford dealer, and the right size raw brake tubing (with the wrong nuts)
and the proper flaring tool at a good auto parts.
If it doesn't cause you pain to write the check ($75 plus) it isn't
a good flaring tool kit - building a solid tool ain't cheap. And you
need the good kit to make sure the flares don't have any microscopic
scoring or uneven stresses which will cause the tubing to crack and
And get a set of tubing bending pliers to make sure you don't kink
the tubing. The slide-over spring style tubing bender will work if
you plan to work in the right direction and flare the open end last.
You can reuse the factory flare at one end if you cut off one end
and slide the right nut on. Don't wait till after the line is bent,
or it won't work... ;-)
I tried NAPA, Autozone, Baxter Auto Parts, Cost Less (local), and Tony's
(local). They all had everything "EXCEPT" what I needed.
I called and inquired about that, but he told me flat out they don't carry
it and can't order it.
Unfortunately, one of the nuts back on the proportioning valve was
extremely tight and ended up rather mangled by the time I finally got it
out. It's not something I would want to reuse.
To further complicate the issue, I talked to a guy at Baxter yesteday, and
he mentioned some of the Fords used different fittings on each end. Sure
enough, I measured when I got home and one of the four fittings is smaller
than the other three.
In any case, I "think" I may have found a solution. The guy at Baxter
recommended a hydraulics company in town. I called them yesterday and they
make it sound like they can make up the brake line without difficulty. I'm
going to run down there today to see if that's true. Every auto part store
in town claims to carry the lines too until I show up with the old part. :)
i think parts stores have really dropped the ball on brake lines.
generally they start rusting out at 10 years. i had 88 pont ,98 windstar
i had troubles getting a line. if parts houses carried a good assortment
of fittings it would solve this delema. lucas
It really surprised me to see the lines so badly rusted after just 11
years. My VW Rabbit was almost 30 years old before I had to put new lines
in it. You'd think they would all use stainless, or some alloy that didn't
corrode so badly. Brakes are a rather important feature, afterall...
Anyway, I'm not having much luck with this whole brake issue. I took the
old line down to a local hydraulics shop, but they wanted over $100 to make
up a couple of straight lines for me. That's way out of my budget right
now, and seem's ridiculous even if I could afford it.
I've sent emails to a couple of online companies, and am also looking into
using adapters to transition to standard lines I can find off the shelf at
any auto parts store.
My 93 Taurus GL just failed inspection this morning. The guy
inspecting really jammed on the brakes and ruptured the rear driver
side steel brake line that was totally rusted. My 78 subaru 4wd wagon
never had such a problem, neither did my 85 escort. They were both
about 17 years old when I got rid of them.
Thank God for inspections. If I had been driving that car and had to
jam on the brakes hard, I would have some serious problems right now.
I would never suspect rotting brake lines on the Taurus, especially
since I have never changed any exhaust components on the car. Frikin
I never found a source for the brake lines on my daughters 96 Taurus GL, so
I had a local company (Northwest Tubes and Hoses in Orchards, WA) make up
some custom lines for me. $35 for each of the long lines running under the
drivers seat, and $25 for the one running between the two rear wheels.
About $100 total. Outrageous for what it is, but that was the cheapest
option I could find.
I couldn't afford to have them bend the lines for me, so I just got
straight lines with the appropriate fittings at each end. I bought a cheap
$20 tubing bender at a local auto parts store, and bent the lines to match
the originals as best as possible. I was quite pleased with the results.
Almost a work of art. A real shame to hide it up under the car! :)
I have the two longest lines reinstalled now, but still need to install the
third line that goes up over the gas tank.
What started as a simple brake pad replacement really turned into a
nightmare project. But as you say, I'm glad I caught the problem before
they failed when my daughter was driving the car.
I am headed down the same path. Went to pull my daughters '97 Taurus
with 54K miles into the garage and catastrophic failure of the long
brake line occured. This is a car that was owned by my father and
always garage kept. Ford should be using stainless steel if they arent
now. Thanks for the advice, I wont even bother with Ford or the auto
No high volume manufacturer (Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, etc.) uses
stainless steel brake lines. There are good engineering reasons why
stainless steel are not the best choice.
If you live in an area that salts the roads, keeping a car in a garage
is not going to make much difference on the life of the brake lines -
in fact it may decrease the life of the lines. The garage is likely to
be warmer (even if not heated) than the outside temperature. The
warmer the temperature, the faster the corrosion rate. A car driven on
salted roads and parked in a garage is likely to have more problems
with corrosion in unseen places than one left outside.
Good luck with the repair. It's a real hassle to deal with. In my case,
once I had replaced all three brake lines, I discovered one of the rear
calipers wasn't working and the strut links on both sides were broken also.
It was a fair amount of work, but everything has been back up and running
for a couple of months now. Even though I have been driving the car more
than my daughter lately, it's nice to know everything is in good working
order for her.
My uncle's 85 Ranger rear brake line ruptured where it crosses the differential
he had to avoid stopped cars & slam into some bushes. Frightening when brake
tend to fail when you least expect them to & rust spots can be hard to locate
a vehicle. That road salt in the winter sure can do a number on the
I found the exact replacement brake lines available thru Classic Tube.
The only rub is they dont stock them and are running a 6 week lead
time.....ouch. If you can wait, here is the link otherwise bend them
I understand and agree with what Ed is saying about parking a wet car
in a garage in the winter, however upon further inspection, I found
that the undercarriage of the car is clean. Yes, we live in an area
where roads are heavily salted in winter but the real problem is the
supports/protection Ford chose to engineer sandwiched the brake lines
between the plastic (with no drainage holes) and the bottom of the
car. They also did a wonderful job of trapping moisture and dirt.
Moisture plus dirt plus time = RUST.
Speaking of engineering, the only real "engineering reason" not to use
stainless for brake lines is the expense Yes, they are harder to seal.
On the other hand I have them on my '67 Cougar for the last 10 years
I certainly wouldnt look at what the big 3 are doing to mass produced
cars and call it "state of the art". Certainly their incentive is to
keep a low cost per unit.
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