I just figured out what was making my son’s brake pedal go to the floor, barely stopping his '97 Buick Skylark. A crack in the hose going to his front passenger brakes. Is this something I can fix myself or do I need to take it to a pro so things can be properly bled etc? I have no mechanical experience, but just replaced his windshield yesterday and have another son in college so I need to save $$$$.
Brake hose replacement as well as brake bleeding is fairly simple and straightforward. Any questions can be answered by a decent repair manual (Haynes is good for someone with limited knowledge or experience) regarding how to perform either. The biggest issue you may encounter doing this job would be if the steel line going to the hose breaks during removal. If that happens, you will then have to replace a section of steel line, which isn’t difficult to do either with a length of tubing, some flare nuts, a double flaring tool, tubing cutter, and some compression fittings. If you have any doubts about your abilities to do any of these things, I suggest you consult someone who knows how to do these sorts of things who can put their hands on the car (some things are easier demonstrated than described). Brakes are not something to take chances on. They are pretty simple, but you have to know how to deal with them to avoid messing them up and putting lives in jeopardy.
The biggest danger of doing this on a 14 year old car is damaging the flair nut where the hard line meets the hose. To do this without damaging this nut, get a flair nut wrench. You may have to buy a set to get the one you need, but they aren’t that expensive. get the metric set.
Remove the wheel (car on jack stands, do not do this with the cars jack only). Put a drip pan under the brakes. Crack the flair nut with a flair nut wrench. Crack the banjo bolt on the back of the caliper. Crack the bleeder valve.
Make sure the master cylinder is full. Remove the brake hose clip just below the flair nut. Then remove the banjo bolt, loosen the flair nut. Remove the hose. Route the new hose and connect the flair nut first. Right after the flair nut starts, install the hose clip, then finish snugging up the flair nut.
Then open the bleeder screw about a quarter turn. Install the other end of the hose using the banjo bolt and two new copper washers. When the brake fluid starts to stream out the bleeder screw without air bubbles, close it. Make sure there is ample fluid in the master cylinder and reinstall the wheel.
Even with the tubing wrenches, the fittings tend to round off before they will break loose…I have the best luck with two Vice-Grips to hold both the hose fitting and the hardline fitting. Try to use real Vice-Grip brand locking pliers. The knock-offs are just too sloppy to hold a reliable grip…Don’t overdue the crushing force with the vicegrips…Just enough to get the job done. Carefully used, there will be no damage to the fittings…Most rubber brake hoses are secured to a frame bracket by a horseshoe shaped spring clip which you remove AFTER you break the fitting loose…But you must hold both sides of the connection to prevent it from twisting in the frame bracket…
Thank you, Mark9207! You gave me the confidence to give it a try. I’m having some trouble since I didn’t have the proper tools (flare nut wrench) and seem to have rounded the fitting on the steel line : ( But I’m not ready to give up yet - I’ll try some more tomorrow. Thanks again!
You have to use a flair nut wrench. If you haven’t rounded it off too much, you might still be able to save it if you go and get a flair nut wrench, probably 10mm, that is the most common size for this application. Do not use anything else, including vicegrips.
It sounds like now, Vice-Grips are the only choice…And carefully used, they will work fine…
Thanks, Keith & Caddyman! I sure wish I had seen these yesterday before I ruined that fitting. I ended up having to cut it off after trying EVERYTHING and realizing even if I got them apart it wouldn’t be ‘tightenable’ either. I got a new one and rented a flaring tool. I don’t feel real confident about my flaring job so I’m waiting for my son to come home and we’ll do some testing. If it leaks or if I just feel like it’s not safe for him to drive it’s going to the shop tomorrow. Crossing my fingers. thanks again for all the great advice!
Some tips on using the flaring tool: There is a step on the double flaring piece you insert into the end of the brake line before flaring it. Use the step as an indicator as to how much line to have sticking out of the flaring frame. When installing the line in the flaring tool frame, loosen the nut farthest from where the line goes in the frame quite a bit (about half its threads), put the line in the frame, and tighten the near nut as much as you can before tightening the far nut. This will apply maximum force to clamp the line in the frame to keep it from slipping through when you flare the line. Use the removable T-handle for the flaring compressor in the wing nuts on the frame to get them tight enough and again to loosen them once you are done flaring the line. Lastly, make sure you install a new tube nut on the brake line before flaring so you don’t have to cut the flare off, install the nut, and flare it again.