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87 elcamino rear brake lines, or , how do i stop my car?

just managed to get my 87 elcamino running, new battery new alternattor, and a more than a year later it started right up(after the buster worked its way through the rust on all the belt wheels.)

tested lights ok

tested brakes, pedal went to floor all to easily and came back up, brake light on dash panel came on.

tested transmission put Ebrake on(not trusting my obviously malfunctioning brakes) reverse and drive engaged as did park.

upon inspecting, noticed brake fluid leaking off of the rear axle slightly off center to the passenger side. checked brake fluid levels, the resiviour was not empty, (topped it off though).

father in law is not really in any shape to assist due to health, in fact im not going to even bother asking anything about it so as not to stress him out.

My question is this. If i do decide to do it myself do the rear brake lines run through the axle? and how do i know if there is air in my brake lines without rolling into traffic at the end of my street.

Additional questions. does the 1987 elcamino have a frame?

(some guy at work insists that there is no frame)


what can i do about rust, most of the work done on the vehicle has been because of rust. car spent most of its life in ohio, enduring harsh salty winter roads. it made its way carrying two human occupants, two canine occupants and one feline, not to mention all of the worldly goods that could be squeezed into an 8 foot tall glob which poured over the roof, all the way to florida. since then the rust has just gotten worse, one tail light mount had to have a piece of sheetmetal rivited over it. The “frame” is rusting through behind the rear wheels on the driver side and is almost through on the other side. everything is covered in rust underneath exceptions are the new gas tank and the new exhaust (put on after the catalytic converter fell off in the driveway).

how can i remove stop and or repair the damage caused by rust, I’m willing to learn how to weld

Much appreciation to any one who has mad it to the bottom of this post. and much more appreciation to anyone who even considers respoding to this.


The brake lines run along the underside of the vehicle. Brake hoses connect the metal brake lines to the axle and the rear brakes. The hoses are probably attached on top of the axle, but they don’t go through the axle. Either a brake line or a brake hose is leaking. Probably a hose, but considering what you said about rust it could be either. I’d consider replacing ALL brake hoses and inspecting the lines for leaks.

Don’t even try to drive this until you are sure the braking system is in good condition. If a brake hose gives way you will quickly have no brakes at all. Actually, it sounds like you have no brakes now.

Your El Camino does not have a separate frame. It’s a “unibody” vehicle, which means the frame is integral with the body. It’s all one piece, basically.

You can’t stop the rust. If you’re willing to spend the time and money you can cut out all the rusted metal and weld new pieces in place. Most of what you would need for this vehicle is probably available. would be a good source of information about parts availability for your truck.

The info provide in regards to your brakes should get you going (or stopping).How comfortable are you with “bleeding the brakes” have you ever done it before? need any tips?
You may need to cut and flare brake steel brake lines (the one that runs on top of the axel)have you ever done this before?
Is there anything special about this El Camino? (when I take on a project like this one of three things must be excellent for me to consider bringing the car back to life, the powertrain must be excellent,the body and paint must be excellent or the interior must be excellent does your car qualify?

You may wind up replacing all of the brake lines from some point in the system because sometimes if the rust is bad enough nothing is going to come apart without destroying the next part of the brake line.

You are going to definitely need a few line wrenches because with rust involved there is just about a zero chance of getting anything loosened up with regular wrenches.

Bleeding the air out without specialty tools is easier if you have someone to pump the brake pedal for you. Keep the fluid in the resevoir full and start bleeding at the wheel fartherest away from the master cylinder; RR, LR, RF, and then LF.

With rust, you’re just about doomed considering the vehicle is from Ohio. To do a proper job on a rust-eaten vehicle really means removing the entire body and starting from the ground up. On an 87 El Camino it’s simply not worth the time and effort.

brake lnes run on the outside of the axle. Get someone to blled the brakes after they have replaced the lines.

Your El Camino does not have a separate frame. It’s a “unibody” vehicle…are you sure? I am 99 & 44/100% positive it has a traditional frame.

You REALLY need to have the rust checked out in the rearend.
The way it sounds if you hit a good bump the rear end could brake loose, not very safe.