CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Brake line spring wrap and couplers

I’m in the middle of a brake job on my 1990 Celebrity and have some questions. I’m basically replacing each line from front to back and have noticed a spring-like material around parts of the line. Is this some kind of wear protection, and do I really need to put these on the new lines? Also, is it acceptable practice to use several pieces spliced together in place of the OEM lines which are one piece?

You can live without the spring wrapped brake line…Keep the splice-joints to a minimum…You need to be sure the lines are securely mounted so they can’t rattle or vibrate or otherwise come loose…I assume you will be changing all the flex-lines too…Take great care when bending the generic brake tubing so you don’t kink it. Wrap the line around some sort of mandrel so it bends smoothly…

Since this is a life or death repair, check everything twice before you put the car back into service…No mistakes or Band-Aids allowed…

Flaring is often a problem for the DIYer and I would suggest that you buy lots of factory flared sections and carefully plan the assembly so as to return most of the sections in “new” condition. When assembling use a pipe bender to get the proper fit and also to “cork screw” any excess length at a location that is out of the way. I would advise against using compression joints. That may be what Caddyman means by Band-Aids.

The spring wrapped brake line is known by various names including stone, rock, gravel or armor guard. As the name implies it protects the line from stones or rocks that might get kicked up from the road and hit the brake line. You can get away without it but if you want to, you can buy that type of line.

Thanks for the input guys. So, if I understand Rod Knox correctly, it’s possible to do this job with sections of factory-flared pieces and not have to do any flaring myself? “…“cork screw” any excess length at a location that is out of the way…”

I agree with AlanY’s comments about the spring wrapping being there to guard against nicks from gravel/stones.

When installing replacement lines, in the areas where the spring wraps were, I’ve often improvised with something like neoprene fuel line. Just slit the fuel line and slide it over the newly installed brake line, and it should have enough tension to stay. A few Ty-Wraps can be used for added securing if needed.

On second thought, let me recommend that you take the car to an experienced brake man, ramblinman. Replacing one section would be difficult but a front to back job is more than you would likely be able to safely handle. And, if rust has damaged the majority of the brake lines the chassis is likely damaged and needs some close inspection.

Spring wrapping is protective, but it performs other important functions as well. It contains the expansion of the elastomeric tubes inside when they’re pressurized, reducing stresses and prolonging life, and it stiffens and supports the tube where it bends to prevent kinking.

I personally neven use unwrapped lines. Even the feeder lines under my sinks at home are wrapped. I respect that others have other perspectives on this.