More a Rhetorical Rant than a Question


How come with all the regulations for car safety, you can be driving along and a ruptured rusted brake line suddenly leaves you brakeless. All the regulations for things like ABS pale in the face of having almost no brakes at all.


A ruptured, rusted brake line should still leave you with brakes on two wheels, one front, and one rear. This will NOT stop the vehicle as if all four wheels were braking, but you should still be able to stop.

How did the brake lines become rusted?


The pedal goes to the floor and it is like suddenly not having power brakes when it happens. They rusted because they are not stainless. Not too different from why Mom’s car lost power steering.

In the end, the goal is to shaft the little guy however you can get away with it. With all the inscrutible esoteric safety regs out there the most practical is to at least have corrosion proof brake lines.


Year, make, model? You complain about rust, but we don’t know how old the vehicle is, or who made it.


Is this such a throw away society that an '87 nova is to be considered unsafe because of what is glaringly obvious about material selection in manufacture? Or a '95 caprice classic (Mom’s car).


Jeez. You’re whining about rust on a 21 year old car; and blaming it on shoddy material! Lord.
Sorry, but you’re way off the mark here. Any car is going to get rust after 21 years and especially so if you live in a northern rust belt state or near the ocean.

There is a cure for preventing problems like this. It’s called “preventative maintenance” and obviously you have been doing none of it.


With all the improvements comes the disaster of making the master cylinder have only one reservoir. The pedal will eventually go all the way to the floor once enough brake fluid goes oner the plastic barrier. When eventually strikes, it is a sudden loss of brakes. Not so smart engineering.


Hey, that brake line lasted 20 years of grime and salt and who knows what else. Stuff corrodes and wears out. A component like a brake line is designed to last over the usual service life of a vehicle, which your Nova has exceeded. Not to say that it’s a “throwaway” car (debatable!), but it just means that when you take a car past its expected life span you have to inspect things that you wouldn’t ordinarily consider regular maintenance items. I’m sure if they’d been inspected in the last few years, someone would have noticed they were rusty.

Sure they could overbuild everything on the car, but then you would have a very expensive and heavy car that would need to be either very slow or have a big, thirsty engine. I find this part of the rant similar to the “why don’t they make the whole airplane out of the stuff they make the black box with” argument-- not really practical and engineers have to make trade-offs.

In fact, many of the fancy gizmos and widgets they have on newer cars are there because they allow smaller cars to perform like bigger ones: Airbags increase accident survivability without having to tack a bunch of steel onto it, ABS can increase braking ability without having to have enormous drums or rotors or big ungainly tires, and so on.

I do agree that the safety regulations need a major overhaul in this country-- but there are serious limits to the improvements in engineering that can be had through legislation.


Just been doing what is reasonable, of course to me. That varies for each situation. For example, I use only the best oil and keep it clean.

However, I noticed that many of us are slaves to the automobile instead of it being the servant. When I realized how much of my life it was taking one way or another, I was shocked.

Give me a low cost car with a good drive train, that can keep out weather, especially rain and cold, has a robust brake system with guaranteed redundant operation, and I would be happy.


yeah, actually there is a point here.

recently there was a post for a chrysler t&c van with a rusted out rear heater hose. earlier someone had a brake question about a f-250. then about six months ago somone posted about a rear brake line.

so obviously there are comon problems.

since i did both my t&c, and my old f 250 for the exact same things, there is truth to this guys complaints.

the t&c heater pipes were made of excellent steel, with a really good powder coat. all was well, until chrysler decided to spot weld the small brackets to thsi and ut NO coating on the weld. (guess where they rusted out!) im not talking about 21 yrs, but in 6 yrs.

my f 250 had a brake line let go. to be honest i never even saw it tucked WAY WAY up inside the box beam frame. (where it was filled with road salt, leave and a chipmonk nest) who thought of making a frame with a opening on the upper half, and no way to let the crud out on the bottom?

so the guys rant is correct, but for different reasons!


Hey, and I’d like to add that I myself drive and own a fleet of cars with 18+ years on them. These cars have NEVER been designed for such a long service life. At this point, ANYTHING and I do mean ANYTHING can go bad, rust off, break, smoke, spark, rattle, fall off, etc… Once you reach the end of the maintenance chart, all bets are off. EVERYTHING is suspect at that point.

I’ve been fortunate that living here in the south, I’ve been able to find some great early model gems that have been taken care of, and still serviceable after so many years, without the unbelievable rust problems of typical northern-bred cars. But, that’s not to say that they haven’t had problems. I had one '87 Olds that actually had fractured rear hubs. I had an '87 Ford Crown Vicky that had a steel fuel line rupture in the rear, over the fuel tank. My '90 Toyota P/U had a pinhole leak in the fuel return line just under the cab. And an old '78 Ford Thunderbird, I had an axle break free and slide out while doing 65 mph on the interstate.

Problems happen, but problems are INEVITABLE with any car truck or van that is old. A lot of people avoid such older cars for that very reason, and why they are so cheap, unless they are certified classics, of course.


Not entirely for different reasons. The maintenance of the brake lines would have required a mechanic with a lift to follow the line along a crevice in the frame, from the center of the car behind a concealing shield.

He probably would not have detected it unless you are a member of a high cost maintenance program like Mercedes Benz operates where such a shield would be removed periodically.


I think the OP has a legitament rant. Look it how long exhaust systems last now that they are stainless, and there not even a safety item.


One of the points that is missed here concerns what the situation was back in 1987. You can’t compare the performance of a 21 year old car to the standard of today.

In 1987, ABS was just being introduced to the market in high end cars.

In 1987, the expectation was that stuff wasn’t going much more than 10 years.

In 1987, many car manufacturers were producing car that were different in name only. A Nova is a good example (Nova - Omega - Ventura - Apollo) - all basically the same vehicle.

Cost of manufacture was the issue at the time.

I’m sorry, but the OP is out of line.


Not according to my brother who is a mechanic. He says cars nowadays are ridiculous. Bloated with necessities and impractical to repair.


…Bloated with unecessities…


I think you have hit the mark succinctly.


i disagree.

the OP mentioned brake lines on a 21 yr old car. but this same installation, attachment and hose routing is the same now as it was then. the brake lines will continue to collect debris, and rust out just like his 21 yr old nova.

why do car manufacturers insist on putting clips, brackets and hoses lines and fittings in close corners where they collect crud? why do these same genious’ manufacturers make door panels with small drain holes, but still have weatherstripping above that allows debris to fall down in there and collect, clog and cause doors to rust out? are these things normal? should we have to inspect under, around and inside to make sure all the debris is not collecting, or (un realistically?) should this stuff be designed and engineered to work right?

sure we should always be cleaing this stuff, but in reality who does? i think that was his real point, (although he didn’t know it) that the brake line didn’t just magically rust out, but it rusted because of other crud sitting against it, on it or around it.


I mainly want to say that brake lines should be rust proof.


Sorry, but I have to agree with OK4450 and most of the others who have responded. This material failure occurred on a vehicle that is clearly past its original design life, and at that point, any component can fail. Obviously, failure of brake hydraulic lines is more catastrophic than most other material failures, but the point remains the same, namely the age of the vehicle vs. its design life.

If someone wants to keep a vehicle operating for 20+ years, it behooves that person to be especially scrupulous with both maintaining it and with inspecting it for potential problems. Clearly, the OP thought that “normal” maintenance was enough–and he was wrong.

Anything can be designed to last virtually forever. The ultimate question, however, is whether the general public would be willing to pay the hugely inflated price of products that are designed to last forever. I am of the opinion that most people would balk at the retail prices that would result from designing products to last forever.