Brake lines are a crucial part of your vehicle’s braking system. They carry brake fluid from the master cylinder to the brake calipers, enabling you to stop your vehicle safely. But what happens if your brake lines become damaged or worn out? Can you cut and splice brake lines together instead of replacing the whole line?
The short answer is yes, you can cut and splice brake lines if done properly. However, this repair requires care, the right materials, and experience working with brake systems. Improper splicing can lead to brake failure and potentially dangerous situations.
This article provides a complete guide on cutting and splicing brake lines. We’ll cover:
- Benefits of splicing vs replacing brake lines
- What you need to splice brake lines
- Step-by-step instructions
- Safety tips and precautions
- FAQs on cutting and splicing brake lines
Follow these best practices to safely splice your brake lines and maintain proper brake system functioning.
Benefits of Splicing vs Replacing Brake Lines
Instead of replacing an entire brake line, splicing allows you to only replace the damaged portion. Here are some benefits of splicing brake lines rather than complete replacement:
- Cost savings: A spliced brake line uses less new material compared to replacing the whole line. This significantly reduces the repair cost.
- Less labor: It takes less time and effort to splice a section than replacing a full brake line.
- Maintain bends: Splicing allows you to keep the existing bends and routing of the line. With complete replacement, you may need to rebend sections to match the original routing.
- Preserve undamaged portions: Only the damaged section needs repair rather than throwing out a whole brake line.
For minor brake line damage, splicing is an efficient and cost-effective option. But major damage or corrosion may require full brake line replacement.
What You Need to Splice Brake Lines
Splicing a brake line requires having the right materials and tools on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Tubing cutter or hacksaw to cut brake line
- Flaring tool to flare line ends
- Pipe cutter to remove fittings
- Emory cloth or sandpaper to clean cuts
- Safety glasses
- Replacement brake line tubing (matches vehicle)
- Flare brake line fittings for splicing
- Brake fluid (DOT 3 or DOT 4)
- Rags, gloves, bucket to collect spilled brake fluid
- Pen to mark cut lines
It’s crucial to use the proper double flared fittings when splicing brake lines. Compression fittings can come loose over time and should not be used.
How to Splice Brake Lines – Step-by-Step
Follow these key steps to properly cut out and splice in a new section of brake line:
Step 1: Disconnect power and release pressure
Disconnect the negative battery cable. Pump the brake pedal repeatedly to deplete stored brake pressure.
Step 2: Remove fittings
Use a pipe cutter to remove any fittings from the ends of the damaged line section.
Step 3: Mark cut lines
Measure and mark the cut lines on the undamaged areas of brake line to remove the damaged portion.
Step 4: Cut out damaged section
Use a tubing cutter or hacksaw to cleanly cut out the marked section. Deburr the ends with sandpaper.
Step 5: Flare line ends
Use a flaring tool to create double flares on the ends of the remaining brake lines.
Step 6: Cut replacement tubing
Measure and cut the required length of new brake line tubing. Flare both ends.
Step 7: Connect spliced section
Connect the replacement tubing section between the cut lines using the proper flared fittings.
Step 8: Refill brake fluid
Refill the master cylinder with new, clean brake fluid. Bleed the brakes to remove any air.
Step 9: Road test
Reconnect the battery and test brake operation on a clear road. Ensure proper braking before regular use.
Taking the time to properly splice a brake line following these steps will yield safe, leak-free results. Rushing the job or using inferior fittings could endanger your braking ability.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Splicing brake lines requires working carefully to avoid compromising your braking system. Keep these safety tips in mind:
- Wear safety glasses when cutting/flaring lines. Brake fluid can spill and metal debris can fly.
- Avoid kinking or collapsing the brake line tubing during the repair. This can block fluid flow.
- Handle brake fluid carefully as it damages painted surfaces. Immediately soak up spills with rags.
- Double check all fittings are tightened securely and leak-free after splicing. Even minor leaks will lead to brake failure.
- Road test the vehicle in a safe area before regular driving. Confirm brakes are operating at full capacity.
- Ask someone to assist you in bleeding the brakes to ensure no air remains in the system. Air degrades braking power.
- If uncertain about splicing, have the work performed by a certified mechanic. Improper line splicing can make your vehicle unsafe to drive.
Exercising caution and patience is required when splicing brake lines. Don’t put safety at risk to save time or money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to splice rubber brake hoses?
No, rubber brake hoses should not be spliced. The factory hoses are designed to exact specifications and splicing can cause them to fail. Replace the hose if damaged.
Can you use compression fittings when splicing brake lines?
Compression fittings pose a high risk of failure from vibrations and should never be used on brake systems. Only use the proper double flared fittings.
How can you tell if a brake line is damaged?
Check for corrosion, cracks, dents, leaks, and bulges when inspecting brake lines. Any sign of damage means replacement is needed. Also look for puddles of brake fluid which indicate a leak.
Is it safe to drive with a spliced brake line?
Provided the splice is done properly using the right methods and materials, a spliced brake line is generally safe to drive with. However, get it inspected by a mechanic if unsure.
How long do brake line splices last?
A properly executed brake line splice using durable reinforced tubing and the right fittings can potentially last the lifetime of the vehicle. But keep checking it during servicing.
When should you replace the whole brake line instead of splicing?
If the damage is too extensive, it may be better to fully replace the brake line. For example, if over 50% of the line is damaged or corroded, replacement may be the wiser option over splicing.
Splicing crushed, damaged, or corroded brake lines is made possible by using the proper double flared fittings and reinforced tubing. However, it requires know-how, care, and quality materials to avoid impaired braking capacity after the repair.
Consult a certified mechanic if you lack the tools, skills, or experience to properly splice a brake line yourself. Overall, understand the risks involved before attempting this repair on your own. With attention to detail, you can splice brake lines to safely stop repairs from braking the bank.