How To Handle A Broken Brake Line

Your brake lines are crucial components for the operation and safety of your vehicle.

It’s in your best interest to maintain their optimal performance, but how can you expect to handle a broken brake line without knowing exactly what they are?

What Is A Brake Line?

Your brake lines are critical to your car’s brake performance. They convert pressure from the brake pedal into stopping power by way of the hydraulic brake system.

That system uses fluid to transfer the pressure created by your foot depressing the brake pedal.

Brake fluid is stored in a master cylinder and is transferred by the brake lines to the brake calipers when it’s time to decelerate.

How Do I Know If My Brake Line Is Bad?

signs that your brake line is bad

Brake lines are built to withstand the elements. That said, they still suffer from wear and tear and eventually fail.

Understanding when your brake lines have started to deteriorate can not only save you money, but also save your life.

Common Symptoms of A Bad Brake Line

  • Corrosion: Extended exposure to the elements can subject your brake lines to corrosion. Built up corrosion weakens brake lines and causes leaks.

    Vehicles in colder climates commonly experience corrosion, because of exposure to roads that have been salted in order to combat ice.

  • Leaking Brake Fluid: A leak in the brake line is the most common symptom of failing brake lines. Even though the brake lines are made of steel, they still will succumb to wear and tear and begin to leak.

    Worn brake lines are susceptible to leaks. The system’s complete failure can look like brake fluid leaking whenever pressure is applied to the brake pedal.

  • Brake Warning Light: Your brake light indicator illuminating is a clear sign that brake line failure has happened. Sensors on the brake pads identify significant damage or that brake fluid has dropped below the permitted threshold and relay the info to the driver via a lit brake light indicator.

  • brake line repair costs
  • Visible Distress: Inspecting the underside of your vehicle can reveal signs of visible distress. These include, but aren’t limited to, rust spots along lines, drips on the interior of the wheels, and fluid streaks.

While wear and tear will impact your brake lines, anything that isn’t unusual is to be expected. That said, brake lines typically need replacement around 100,000 miles.

What Happens When A Brake Line Goes Bad?

Constantly driving your car is likely to make noticing brake line deterioration a little easier.

The wear and tear signs of brakes are obvious when you’re accustomed to how your vehicle typically operates.

Common Signs Of Bad Brakes

  • Elongated Stopping: When it begins to take your car longer to come to a complete stop than you’re used to, you can bet that your brake pads are worn down. Get them replaced as soon as possible in order to avoid complete brake system failure.

  • Grinding Sounds: Past a certain point, your brake pads will have worn down to the point where you can hear audible grinding sounds. The sound of metal-on-metal is a clear indication that your brakes have gone bad.

    Dirt, grime, moisture, or debris can also cause your brakes to produce that sound if they are allowed to build up.

  • Soft Brake Pedals: Depressing the brake pedal and having it feel “soft” or “spongy” is an indication of issues with the master cylinder. Air may also have infiltrated the brake system, which causes the soft feeling.

  • Car Pulls To One Side When Braking: Your car may pull strongly to one side if your brake calipers or pads are more worn out on one side than the other. It may also indicate an issue with the brake hose.

  • Visible Brake Fluid Puddle: Seeing fluid under your car can indicate a leak, crack, or hole along your brake lines or the master cylinder itself. Without this fluid, you won’t be able to brake.

Can I Drive With A Broken Brake Line?

can i drive with a broken brake line

Driving with a leaking brake line can compromise your entire brake system. What results is total brake failure and the inability to stop your car when you most need to.

To avoid an intense safety issue, it’s in your best interest to pull over to a safe space and request a tow for your vehicle.

Should your brake line fail while driving the vehicle, take these actions immediately:

  • Pump the brake pedal repeatedly! This acts to build up some pressure in the brake line and give it some sense of braking action.

  • Pull over! Even if the leak appears to be a small one, it’s best to pull over and get your car towed.

  • Don’t pull the parking brake! Unless you’re driving very slowly, pulling your parking brake may cause your entire vehicle to spin out and create even further damage to your brake system.

How To Fix A Broken Brake Line

Fixing a broken brake line is a job best left for professionals. It involves getting your car raised, removing wheels, diagnosing what needs to be replaced, and installing everything perfectly.

The steps in detail are:

Step 1: Remove the wheel.

Step 2: Remove the brake hose bolt. Place a drain pan beneath the brake assembly and proceed in removing the brake hose. Remove any bolts, disconnect the hose, then place it away from the entire brake assembly.

Step 3: Remove the caliper bolts. Remove the caliper’s bolts and then remove it from the vehicle entirely. You may need to use a small pry bar or flathead screwdriver to push the caliper piston back far enough to come loose.

Step 4: Install the new caliper.

Step 5: Install the brake hose onto the caliper. Reinstall the brake hose onto the caliper once the caliper has been reinstalled. Replace the bolts that hold the hose to the vehicle.

Step 6: Open the brake master cylinder. Installation is complete. Bleed the brakes by opening the master cylinder and ensuring it is topped off. Do so until the brake pedal is firm and the master cylinder has fluid in it.

What Is The Average Cost Of Brake Line Repair?

Brake line replacement costs vary based on the vehicle. The national average tends to fall between $20-$500 for each brake line. Labor costs average at $45 while the parts range from $150-$275.

Total replacement of your brake lines involves removing and replacing all four brake lines with completely new components. This procedure can range anywhere from $1000-$2000 depending on the type of vehicle.

Because the brake system consists of many other parts, there are many other components that might need repair or replacement. Here are the estimated repair costs for different brake parts:

Service Price

Brake rotor replacement

$50-$150 per rotor

Brake caliper replacement

$100-$175 per caliper

Total brake system replacement


Master cylinder replacement


If your automobile needs several brake repairs, then you’ll have to factor in different part costs including that of brake rotors, brake pads, and brake fluid. Even if paying $50 for a rotor doesn’t seem too bad, the cost for multiple parts can stack up quickly.

Does The Brake Line Type Affect Repair Costs?

The type of brake lines your vehicle has absolutely impacts the costs of brake line repair. Learn why they matter below.

Types Of Brake Lines

  • Steel - The most common type of metal used in brake lines is galvanized mild steel. It’s used for its durability, accessibility, and affordability. That said, steel rusts and is difficult to bend.

  • Soft Steel - Composed of low-carbon steel, soft steel is (as its name might suggest) easier to bend. It is also coated with Polyvinyl Fluoride in order to combat rust, making it a more expensive option for brake lines.

  • Stainless Steel Brake Lines - Three to four times more expensive, but appreciated for their resistance to heat and imperviousness to rust. Often a choice as an upgrade made by enthusiasts.

  • Nickel-Copper Hard Lines - Nickel-copper hard lines have the strength of steel, are impervious to rust, and can be bent with ease. Their 90-10 copper to nickel design also makes them rather affordable. They are, however, difficult to find locally.

What Are My Options If I Don’t Want To Repair My Brakes?

options to repair broken brake line

Brake line repair cost may exceed your vehicle's current value. Fortunately, DamagedCars specializes in taking less-than-perfect cars off their owner’s hands. It might be a hassle for you, but it’s no problem for us!

Our simple, 3-step process is as easy as it gets:

  1. Get your free quote! Simply enter some basic information about your car on our website and you’ll receive a free and guaranteed quote within 90 seconds.

  2. Schedule your pickup within 24-48 hours! Like your quote? Then you’ll be able to schedule your vehicle retrieval with one of our partners in your area. They’re trusted to come to you at a time that works best for you.

    The best part? Towing’s completely on the house! There’s no need to worry about transport fees taking a chunk out of your profits.

  3. Complete your sale! After a quick inspection and transferring of your title, you’ll receive the amount you were quoted, no haggling or fuss. We take the car off your hands and you put money in your pockets! It’s a win-win for everyone!

Contact DamagedCars today and worry about what to do about your brake lines no more!

Need answers? Get FREE advice from our client care experts NOW!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Brake Lines?

The average brake line costs between $20 and $500 each. They vary based upon the type of vehicle and the type of brake line. Replacing all four brake lines with new components can easily cost over $1000.

Can I Drive With A Leaking Brake Line?

If you think your brake line is leaking, then you should not drive your vehicle. Contact your mechanic immediately and do not jeopardize your safety by driving your car.

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