Bending brake lines is a crucial part of many brake repair or upgrade jobs. Doing it correctly ensures proper brake functioning and driver safety. Follow this guide to learn the proper tools and techniques for bending brake lines like a pro.
Brake lines carry brake fluid from the master cylinder to the brakes at each wheel. They are a closed hydraulic system made of metal tubing. When doing brake work, you’ll likely need to bend replacement brake lines to fit your vehicle properly.
Bending brake lines isn’t just hammering them into shape. Doing it incorrectly can lead to:
- Weak or kinked lines
- Brake failure
- Reduced brake system performance
- Driver danger
This article will teach you to properly bend brake lines for a safe, working brake system.
Bending brake lines requires a few specialized tools:
- Line tubing bender – This is essential for bending lines without damaging them. Don’t bend lines by hand!
- Tubing cutter – Cuts brake line tubing cleanly
- Flaring tool – Flares line ends to connect fittings
- Bubble flaring tool – Alternative flaring method
- Brake line bracket pliers – Secures line brackets onto vehicle
- Brake line wrenches – For tightening fittings
You can get all these tools affordably at your local auto parts store or online. Invest in quality tools made for brake work.
How to Bend Brake Lines
Follow these steps to properly bend replacement brake lines:
1. Measure and Cut New Brake Line to Length
- Measure original line and cut new line to same length with tubing cutter
- Keep cut ends free of burrs
2. Install Fittings on New Brake Line
- Put brake line fittings like banjo bolts on cut ends of new line
- Follow instructions for your specific fittings
3. Secure Line in Bender According to Bend Measurements
- Based on old line, measure where bends start and end plus bend angles
- Secure unbent new line in bender using these measurements
4. Begin Bending Line According to Measurements
- Use line tubing bender to match bend locations and angles of old line
- Work slowly in increments to avoid kinks
- Don’t bend line past manufacturer’s recommended bend radius
5. Remove and Inspect Newly Bent Line
- Remove line from bender and examine for kinks or cracks
- Discard and re-bend if damaged
6. Flare Ends of New Line
- Use flaring tool to flare line ends for fittings
- Bubble flaring tool is alternate method
7. Secure Line Brackets Along New Line
- Use bracket pliers to crimp retaining brackets onto line
- Space brackets exactly like old line
Your new brake line is now ready to install! Be sure to thoroughly bleed the brakes of air after installation.
Below are answers to common questions on bending brake lines:
What is the proper tubing bend radius?
Follow the manufacturer’s recommended minimum bend radius. Typically between 2 to 4 inches for steel brake line tubing.
What causes kinked brake lines?
Bending a line too sharply, bending by hand instead of with a tool, or poor workmanship. Kinks severely weaken the line.
What should I do if I kink a new line?
Discard it and re-bend a new one. Even slightly kinked lines can fail under hydraulic pressure.
Can I bend brake lines without special tools?
It’s risky. Bending by hand or using makeshift tools like pipe or wood blocks often damages lines. Invest in proper brake line bending tools.
How tight should fittings be on flared ends?
Tighten banjo bolt fittings to manufacturer torque specs, usually 15-20 ft-lbs. Don’t overtighten.
Bending brake lines properly takes precision, care, and the right tools. Follow the steps here while using quality bending equipment, and you’ll avoid potential brake failure or safety issues. For a professional brake line bending job, have a certified mechanic handle it. Proper brake lines are vital for confidence and security behind the wheel.