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Brake & Fuel Line Replacement Costs

The brakes on my 1989 Olds 88 (80,000 miles) went out, and I had to leave my car in another town, an hour away, have a friend come to get me, have my car towed to a shop w/one good review on the Web--although later I found an excellent BBB rating.
<br/> They are replacing rusted seeping brake & fuel lines to the tune of about $500 labor & 136 parts. With tow & tax it may well come to $700.
<br/> The repair shop owner told me on phone they have 9 hours of labor in, and at the point he said that they hadn't got the fittings to the cylinders off and were going to soak them in Twister over the weekend.
<br/> I told him I want all the old parts and I want to speak with the technician who worked on my car when I come to get it Monday.
<br/> Am I being ripped off? What can I do?


  • edited January 2010
    Replacing brake and fuel lines is a messy, big job on an old car. You have rubber sections that have to be flexible on the brake lines. The metal sections have to be bent to go around objects and it all needs to be placed properly and fastened into place with hangers and fasteners. There are lots of couplings where rubber tubes meet metal tubes and they can't leak. Obviously rust is a big problem in getting the old parts removed and they are trying to do the job without breaking parts that still might be usable.

    From your post is sounds like the shop is trying to do the job correctly. The price for labor is hard to figure because cars are much different, for some this job is fairly easy, others it is a real nightmare. That is without rusty, corroded parts which makes any job more difficult. I'd say the quote you have seems in the ballpark. You are entitled to view the old parts and that is standard practice for me.
  • edited January 2010
    I think that both you and the shop owner should have had a real serious meeting of the minds about this job before even starting it.
    They're 9 hours in and haven't even gotten things apart yet?

    A going on 22 year old car with lines rusted that badly could also mean weak brake hydraulics such as calipers, wheel cylinders, and master cylinder. Replace the lines, some of the hydraulics may then give out and then what?

    You may have more in the repair than the car is worth.
  • edited January 2010
    You must really love this car to be preared to spend that kind of money. As OK points out, if the brake and fuel lines are rusted that bad, there is a whole lot more that will need replacing now or soon.

    I sold a 1988 Caprice two years ago; this car had never been driven in a corrosive environment, and the next owner could drive it without fear. Had it needed the kind of work you describe, I would have SCRAPPED it!
  • edited January 2010
    To ok4450 & Docnick
    Thank you for replying to my post. You are both right. The car has meant a lot to me. It was my Dad's car. After he lost his eyesight I drove both my parents places in it. Dad would sit in the back so he wouldn't be so anxious. I lost both parents within the last 2 years, Mom most recently. I kept the car going. It's in pretty good shape, but Dad had a garage, and I do not. You've given me pause to think about why I'm really keeping that car going. There's more to it than meets the eye.

    But does anybody have any experience with repairing brake and fuel lines who can tell me how much time it takes to do that job? Thank you so much for your thoughts.
  • edited January 2010
    As Uncle Turbo says, and I concur, it's a big and messy job. But you need a detailed beakdown estimate from a good mechanic as to what is involved before going ahead. The $800 or so quoted would not be out of line where I live to do a good job and replace all the bad parts, if, indeed, they need replacing.

    I would have the underside inspected, and if the body, especially the jacking points, are totally corroded, I would say goodbye to the car. I have disposed of two cars in the past for this reason.
  • edited January 2010
    If you had a 20 year old washing machine and the guts were all rusted out and it was going to cast $700 to fix it, what would you do??

    Don't blame the shop or the mechanics..Working on rusted out junk is a thankless task..Rusted brake lines and fittings can be HOPELESS. EVERYTHING must be replaced because parts can not be separated. Planned obsolescence. If GM had wanted it to last 20 years, they would have made it out of stainless steel.

    Properly functioning brakes are a MAJOR safety issue. The shop knows this and they can take no short-cuts or use questionable repair techniques just to save you a few bucks, and I suspect they won't..If the brake and fuel lines are badly rusted, EVERYTHING under the car will be badly rusted too..Sorry, but it's time to let it go...
  • edited January 2010
    Thank you, Uncle. Your reply helps. The shop owner wasn't able to explain it in the detail you have. Communication is an important part of a mechanic's job, if the mechanic is talking to a new client. He kept repeating the same thing when describing the work involved. You have detailed it, and that makes a difference.

    They haven't tried to save the usable parts. The shop owner predicted they would have to take it all apart. I did ask him to save the all the parts they take off, because I have no experience with the shop and I can't be there until I pick up the car.

    Your reply has been helpful, and I thank you.
  • edited January 2010
    Hello, Uncle,
    I didn't think the first message posted. By the way, even they thought the car is in good enough shape to fix. 80,000 m, no body rust. But I have been putting money into it, and the cold winter we're having up north has been hard on the car. I do need to pull out all the old papers on it, put them in order, so I can see what's been done before, as I wasn't always around here, and then I'll make a decision. I realize parts get old even if the engine doesn't have a lot of miles on it.

    Hey, thanks to everybody down the line who replied, as well. Your help is taking some of the load off me. I've never liked dealing with car problems. It's been a rough winter up here, too. Thanks & thanks.
  • edited January 2010
    your question : 'am i being ripped off' is subjective. You may feel like you're getting ripped off, but if the car brakes fail due to a bad job, then you probably should have paid more! if you could do this work yourself, then it would in all likely hood cost around 100 to 200 dollars in parts. using the normal figuring doubling this too 200 to 400 bucks is what you can expect to pay for this. HOWEVER.... the most amazing thing happens when you start to disassemble old stuff. New problems creep up, you find old rusted stuff and things break off, and you then need to dig further along to find good fittings, steel, and brackets to use. this eats up further cash, and before you know it your job has doubled in size/price and time. working under a car can be a time consuming way to spend $$, and sometimes you don't 'see' the end picture until you are in WAY too deep $$ wise.

    if it were me, i would try to get rid of this old car, enjoy your memories of your parents, and remember... they wouldn't want you stuck on the side of the road in their old car either! just because it's their old car doesn't mean that you must be unsafe in it.
  • edited January 2010
    Good point, Cappy. Years ago I had a 1977 Dodge Colt, which needed, we thought, some minor front end part. However, due to age and corrosion we (this car lacked corrosion protection)nearly had to rebuild the front end and it cost $750 then (1990) to do the work, since many more parts needed replacing.

    If OP can keep the cost down to $700 or so and the rest of the car is good, she can safely get a few more years out of it.
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