Best way to tape up a leaky brake line

My 93 year old dad has a 97 Dodge neon with a leaky brake line. He says it’s the line that goes back to the passenger side back wheel and he feels that he can just tape up the leak. I think he is crazy, but he says the tape will be fine and work just fine since he doesn’t drive the car that much. So my question is what would be the best type of tape for him to use?

Since I know this won’t work, what is involved in fixing a brake line with a leak?

There is NO safe way to ‘tape up’ a leaky brake line, you’re 100% correct. But it shouldn’t be that expensive to have a brake shop replace the bad portion of the line. The pedestrian or other driver this keeps him from killing will thank you for it.


Is your father chronically depressed?
Has he expressed suicidal thoughts?

I ask these questions because someone who believes that a hydraulic brake line can be repaired with tape is…not someone who values his own life or the lives of his passsengers and other folks whom he encounters on the road.

As texases stated, you CANNOT repair hydraulic brake lines with tape.
Perhaps it is time to take Dad’s car keys (both sets!) away from him if his judgment is so impaired that he believes this to be an acceptable way of repairing his leaking brake lines.

No, I am not kidding about taking his car keys away.
How would you feel if he decides to overrule you and do his cheapo, sure-to-fail repair job, and then winds up killing some people when his brakes fail? Even if he “doesn’t drive the car that much”, any attempt to put this car back on the road with leaking brake lines that have been “repaired” in this manner is sure to end in tragedy.

Taking the keys away is not an option, my dad is very stubborn and drives at night when he can’t see too well and is now trying to figure out how to tape up the brake line. My sister is going to try and convince him not to, but my dad comes from a generation when you fix things yourself with some sweat and tape. I wasn’t sure if the whole brake lines needed to be replaced when a leak happens or if they can just fix the area of the leak.

Well, my dad was from that generation (edit - I’m sorry, I missed the fact that he’s 93, bless him), and fixing a brake line with tape was NEVER an option for him.

Your 93 year old father lived through the depression. My parents went through the great depression and this was the way they reasoned. Fortunately, my dad did have a trusted mechanic keep his automobile in good repair so he would never tape up a brake line. However, my dad did have a lawnmower that if it stopped when the engine was hot, it would have to cool down for about an hour before it would restart. I thought about fixing it for him, but my mother said not to do it. My dad was in his late 80s and she said that when the mower stopped, this gave him a break.
At any rate, if I were in your position, I would just take the car out and have the brake line fixed.

Can you get your dad to sit with you and review this thread?

As everyone has said, a brake line cannot be safely repaired with tape. You cannot contain this hydraulic fluid under hydraulic pressure, which is exactly what a brake line is, with tape. And even if you could, a leak suggests that the line is in need of replacing…it’s failed and will leak again in another spot.

The good news is that replacing a brake line is not an expensive job. And it’ll give the mechanic a chance to check the other lines as well.

Dad, listen to your young one. Have the line replaced. It’s worth the few bucks it’ll cost.

If you can’t talk dad into fixing this problem disable the car, and when it won’t start, tell dad you don’t have time but you’ll have a “friend” take a look at it. Then have it towed to a garage and have the brakes fixed. And while they are at it have them check the rest of the car over and bring it up to good repair.

Even if he doesn’t drive much a car that can’t stop is much worst than a car that won’t start.

I know there is no exact way of knowing what the cost might be, but ballpark wise, to replace a brake line we are looking…

0-50 dollars
50-100 dollars
100-150 dollars
more then 150 dollars?

Dad won’t have any monies till his SS hits the bank on the 3rd of next month, so it will have to sit till then.

The problem is, if it’s a rusted line that’s leaking (most likely), it could be rusted in many places that aren’t quite leaking yet, and the shop will want to replace all the rusted line (quite justifialbly, in my opinion). So If I had to guess, it’ll be more than $150.

It’ll be less than an hours shop time. Most shops around here charge a minimum 1 hour, so I’m guessing it’ll be $100-150. The line itself should be less than $25.

The most important thing about this is the other lines will be checked. Brake lines, like all things elastomeric, get old and fail. One leak on a vehicle this suggests that the other lines might be getting old too. All four lines could be replaced and the entire system bled in one hour’s shop time.

Check with your local police dept. for strategies to keep dad off the road and from hurting himself or others.

You should take the keys and disable the car until it can properly fixed. Dad is only thinking of himself and saving money, but there are other people on the road and on the sidewalks and they deserve drivers and cars that can be safe on the road. If he can’t think past himself he shouldn’t be driving anymore.

If you can’t get your father to see the light regarding the brake line, report the situation to the police.

I understand your reluctance to take the keys away, although I think you should buck up and find the will to do it. However, if your father refuses to pay for a proper repair, someone in authority, who can revoke the car’s registration, needs to step in ASAP. Remove the license plates yourself if you have to.

My dad would drive without the license plate. Again my dad is very stubborn.

Stop making excuses, and stop being your Dad’s codependent enabler. If you take off the plates, and your Dad drives and kills someone when his brakes fail, it’s his fault. If you let this slide, it will be your fault.

(Yes, calling you a codependent enabler is a bit harsh, but I think it’s valid, and I think you can take it.)

You can be dishonest with your Dad and sneak his car out to a shop for repair, if that is easier. Or you can confront the problem openly. Scrape off the inspection sticker and make him get it reinspected. Report him to the police for faulty equipment and bad eyesight. Take the car away and hide it and let him report you for theft. Better that he hate you than that he kill someone.

And God forbid he gets in an accident and seriously injures or kills someone, and the police find duct tape on a leaking brake line. That will prove he knew he was driving with dangerous equipment. That’s criminal negligence and makes him liable for manslaughter charges, not to mention a lawsuit that will drain whatever remaining assets he might have.

Correctly fix the brake line no matter what it costs, you can’t afford NOT to.
( Steel line ? flexible rubber hose ? you never said. )
Then get some duct tape and wrap it around the known area.
" hey dad, look it’s all fixed.

We don’t have inspections here in Indy, and there is no way to sneak it out as he is home all the time. Also he will have to pay for it because neither I nor my sister have the funds to pay for it. Not sure the police would care until an accident happened, I mean some of the cars I see on teh roads here scare the hell out of me, but people are driving them.

I can see dad’s judgment being impaired; he is 93. But, what about the rest of the family? Once you know about a dangerous situation, not taking action is a decision. Not a wise or prudent decision, but a decision it is.

The local police were very helpful in getting my father in-law to stop driving. We took the keys, and pulled the distributor caps just to be sure. His car was safe, but he was losing his way and we knew it was time to act before he hurt himself or someone else. Of course this meant more family involvement in things such as doing his food shopping.

Can’t afford to fix it ???


did you miss that part ?

Can’t pay for something you don’t have the monies for. We have told him it’s unsafe, he disagrees, he feels that if he can get the tape on there tight, there is no reason to think the car won’t be okay. He keeps reminding us of the time he drove a car with 3 wheels from one city to another back when he was a kid because the fourth tire fell off while driving and he did no damage to the car or the road.