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How Much Does Brake Line Replacement Cost?

Guide to Brake Line Replacement Cost
Jason Steele
Jason SteeleUpdated April 18, 2023
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Brake lines are crucial for bringing your car to a stop when you step on the brake pedal. Although the brake line replacement cost can be substantial, this repair is critical to the proper operation of your car. Read on to learn about the cost to replace brake lines, and how to know when your brake lines need replacing.

What is a Brake Line and Why Does It Matter?

Brake lines are an essential part of your car’s braking  system. These flexible tubes connect different parts of your brakes and help bring your vehicle to a stop. Here’s how they work: When you press down on the brake pedal, a component called the master cylinder pressurizes the brake fluid inside it. The fluid then travels through the brake lines to the brake calipers, which engage and stop the car’s wheels from turning. When the brake lines aren’t operating properly, the fluid can’t flow, and the car can’t stop. Making sure your brake lines are well maintained is an important part of car ownership.Recommended: How Much Does Fixing a Power Steering Pump Cost?

Types of Brake Lines

There are two main types of brake lines: steel brake lines and rubber brake lines. 

Steel Brake Lines

Steel brake lines have an inner hose surrounded by woven steel strands. Brakes with stainless steel brake lines are generally more responsive because they swell less than brake lines made with rubber. They’re also more durable — and more expensive — than rubber brake lines.

Rubber Brake Lines

Rubber brake lines tend to be common in newer vehicles. They consist of several layers of rubber around a fluid-resistant inner liner. Rubber brake lines are flexible, which allows them to navigate tight spaces. These brake lines are more affordable than steel brake lines.Recommended: Car Axle Repair & Replacement Costs

How Brake Lines Go Bad

Over time, brake lines begin to wear out. Brake fluid retains water, which can cause metal brake lines to rust and corrode from the inside. In addition, the brake lines may develop a hole, causing the fluid to leak and a loss of brake pressure. Brake lines can also be damaged by salt or road debris.Rubber brake lines also degrade over time. The heat and moisture inside them can break down the rubber, causing it to weaken.Brake lines may also collapse. This can reduce fluid pressure and make your brakes less effective, causing your car to pull to one side when you try to stop.Recommended: Car Loan Refinancing Calculator

When to Replace Your Brake Lines

Most brake lines need to be replaced around 100,000 miles. However, due to wear and tear, they may need to be replaced before that. 

What are the Signs of a Bad Brake Line?

There are a number of signals that a brake line is going bad. Here’s what to watch out for:

Brake Fluid Leaks

If you see clear or brown fluid under your car and it smells like fish oil, it could be the brake fluid. That means your brake line may be leaking.

Brake Fluid Light

One of the indicator lights on your car is the brake fluid light. You can check your owner’s manual if you’re not sure which one it is. If that light is on, it means the brake fluid reserves are low, and you probably have a leak. 

Brake Pedal Sinks all the Way to the Floor

You should not be able to push your brake pedal down to the floor of your car. If you can, there is likely a brake line problem. Don’t drive your car because this is a sign the brake lines are close to failure. Call a tow truck to take your car to a repair shop.Recommended: How Much Does a Rear Differential Replacement Cost?

Spongy Feel to the Brakes

If pushing on the brake pedal feels like pushing on a sponge, the system likely has air bubbles inside the brake fluid due to a leak. 

Slower Brake Response

When the brake lines go bad, the brake may be slower to respond when you press on the pedal. If there’s a delay between pressing on the brake pedal and the car coming to a stop, it’s possible that the brake lines aren’t supplying the brakes with enough pressurized fluid.

Rusty Brake Lines

If you see rust on your brake lines, you should get them replaced. 

Visible Corrosion

Likewise, if you spot corrosion or moisture on the brake lines, the lines need replacing. Corrosion increases the risk of brake line failure. Recommended: Pros and Cons of Refinancing a Car

How Much is it to Replace Brake Lines?

So how much does it cost to replace brake lines? The cost to replace brake lines depends on the type of vehicle you have and the area of the country you live in. One brake line usually costs between $250 and $500. The parts run about $150 to $275, and the rest of the brake line replacement cost — $40 to $50 — is for labor. If you have an extended warranty for your car, check it to see if the brake lines are covered.Recommended: Average Cost for Transfer Case Replacement & Repairs

Complete vs. Single Brake Line Replacement

With a complete brake line replacement, all four existing brake lines are replaced with new lines. A complete brake line replacement cost ranges from $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. With a single brake line replacement, the cost can be up to $500. If you need to have all four brake lines replaced, and you don’t have the funds to cover the cost, you may want to explore the option of a car repair personal loan to help finance the job.Recommended: 11 Simple Tips to Pay Off a Car Loan Faster

The Takeaway

Brake lines are an essential part of your car’s braking system, and your car may not be able to come to a complete stop if they’re not functioning properly. If you see a sign that your brake lines may be bad, get them replaced as soon as possible. Keeping brake lines properly maintained could help increase the value of your car — and help keep you safe.

3 Auto Loan Refinance Tips

  1. Refinancing your auto loan could lead to lower monthly car payments and more money in your budget. Lantern by SoFi can help you find the right auto refi loan for you.
  2. Shortening the term of your auto loan may increase your monthly payments, but you’ll likely pay less in interest over the life of the loan.
  3. Generally, the newer your car, the lower the refi interest rate. This is because younger cars typically have a higher value than old or used cars — and the car serves as collateral for the loan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth replacing brake lines?
Can you drive a car with a leaking brake line?
How long does it take to replace brake lines?
Photo credit: iStock/njw1224

About the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele

Jason Steele has been writing about credit cards and award travel since 2008. One of the nation's leading experts in this field, he has contributed to dozens of personal finance and travel outlets and has been widely quoted in the mainstream media.
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