What Are The Signs Of A Broken Brake Line?


Brake lines are an integral part of your car’s system. Knowing when they’ve experienced damage and start to falter can save you time, money, and (quite literally) a life. Here are some common signs of brake line damage:

  • Leaking Brake Fluid - Leaking brake lines are the most common symptom of a failing brake system. While brake lines are usually made of steel and durable enough to withstand significant pressures, they are still susceptible to being worn down.

    Worn down or damaged brake lines are prone to leaks. When a brake line fails completely, brake fluid may leak out whenever the brakes are applied.

  • Corrosion - Corrosion on the brake lines can be caused by constant exposure to the elements. When corrosion builds up, it weakens the metal of the brake lines and makes them prone to leaking. This is especially common in colder climates where vehicles are driven on roads that have been salted in order to combat the ice.
  • Brake Warning Light - An illuminated brake light is another indicator that your brake failure has progressed. The brake warning light turns on when the wear sensors on the brake pads activate or when brake fluid drops below a certain threshold.
  • Brake Pedal To The Metal - If you can fully depress your brake pedal all the way down to the floor with very little or no resistance, then it’s worth having your vehicle towed to an auto shop immediately.
  • Visible Distress - If you can check under your vehicle with a flashlight, you may be able to see drips on your wheels’ interiors, rust spots along the lines, or fluid streaks. These signs as well as signs of corrosion or damage should lead you to getting your brakes replaced.

What Does A Brake Line Do?

Repairing brake lines on car

We may have gotten ahead of ourselves: What exactly are brake lines and what do they do?

Brake lines play a crucial part in your vehicle’s ability to brake by converting pedal pressure into stopping power. The brake system within most cars is a hydraulic one. They use fluid to transfer the pressure your foot applies to the brake.

That brake fluid is typically held within the master cylinder and transferred from it to the brake calipers through the brake lines anytime the brake pedal is pushed down. The calipers respond to the pressure by clamping down on the brakes, resulting in the slowing and eventual stopping of your vehicle.

Can You Drive With A Broken Brake Line?

No. It is strongly advised not to keep driving with a broken brake line. Even a small leak compromises the effectiveness of your brake system and creates a safety issue in traffic.Pull over somewhere safe and have your car towed immediately.

If your brake line fails while you’re driving the vehicle, take these actions immediately:

  • Pump the brake pedal repeatedly to build up some pressure in the brake line and give it some more braking action.
  • Pull over even if the leak is small and get your car towed.
  • Don’t pull the parking brake unless you’re driving very slowly. Pulling your parking brake at a high speed may cause your vehicle to spin out and even further damage to your brake system.

How Much Does Brake Line Repair Cost?

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Brake line replacement varies depending on the vehicle. On average, you can expect to pay between $20 and $500 to repair a single brake line. This price range includes the cost of labor ($40-$50) and the cost of the parts ($150-$275).

Complete brake line replacement is the act of removing all four brake lines and replacing them with completely new ones. The cost ranges anywhere from $1000 to $2000 depending on the type of vehicle.

Knowing when to replace brake lines is also key. 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.

Does The Brake Line Type Affect Repair Costs?

The type of brake line also affects the costs of brake line repairs. There are four different types of brake lines, each composed of different types of metals. The primary differences between all of them are durability, resistance to rust, malleability, and cost.

Types Of Brake Lines

  • Steel - galvanized mild steel is the most common type of metal used in brake lines. It is affordable, durable, and easily attained. However, steel rusts and is difficult to bend.
  • Soft Steel - composed of low-carbon steel, soft steel is easier to bend. It is also coated with Polyvinyl Fluoride in order to combat rust. This makes 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.

Sell Your Broken Car With DamagedCars


Repairing brake lines can be expensive and can be a rough investment to make if your car is already over 100,000 miles. DamagedCars specializes in taking those end-of-life vehicles off your hands. With over two decades of experience in the industry, we’ve simplified our process to three easy steps:

Step 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.

Towing is complementary, so you’ll never have to worry about hidden or additional fees taking away from the profits you take home.

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

Step 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. Your vehicle is taken off your hands and money is put in them!


Sell your car with problems fast!

Can you drive a car with a broken brake line?

No. Driving with compromised brakes is a massive safety hazard to you and everyone on the road. Pull over immediately and call for a tow.

Can a brake line be repaired?

Yes. Brake lines can be repaired. Whether it's a single brake line or a complete brake line replacement will determine the costs (along with the vehicle’s type).

What are signs of bad brake lines?

What are signs of bad brake lines?
  • Leaking Brake Fluid
  • Corrosion
  • Brake Warning Light
  • Brake Pedal To The Metal
  • Visible Distress