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What is a brake pipe?

The brake pipes on your car run from the brake fluid reservoir through the brake master cylinder and down to each wheel underneath the car. Factory-fitted pipes are usually made from iron, as this is a cheaper material, but over time the pipes will become corroded and so will need replacing. In this situation many mechanics will use a copper brake pipe, which lasts longer and won’t corrode.

The brake pipe system transmits brake fluid from the brake master cylinder and throughout the car's brake pipe system down to the wheels. If your car has disc brakes, the pipe will connect to a flexible brake hose made of rubber, transmitting the fluid into the brake caliper. The same goes for drum brakes, but here, the rubber brake line is attached to the wheel cylinder. In both cases, the brake pipe allows the transmission of hydraulic pressure generated by the driver when they push the brake pedal.

As the brake pipes are an important part of your braking system, you need to check them from time to time. You also cannot pass MOT when the brake pipes are worn or corroded.

When is it time for a brake pipe replacement?

Over time, your car’s brake pipe system will be affected by salt on the roads, which causes corrosion. If you find a brake pipe has corroded, it’s time for a replacement. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check them on a regular basis - for example, when you are changing tyres. If the brake pipes are damaged or corroded, it can result in leakage, which in turn reduces the hydraulic pressure in the brake system. Over a longer period of time, this can affect your car’s braking abilities, which can be dangerous.

Brake pipe failure

As the brake pipes are usually made from iron on brand new cars, they will have to get replaced at some point in the car's lifetime. This usually happens around an MOT, as you cannot pass an MOT with worn brake pipes. If you have your car's brake pipes inspected ahead of the MOT, the mechanic will be able to change them to a copper version. The copper won’t rust and you won’t have to change the pipes again.

There are other ways to spot failing brake pipes, however, so check up on these points:

  • Are your brake pipes corroded? The most common sign is visible rust/corrosion on the pipes that will be visible once you get a look at them from below.
  • A leak of brake fluid might indicate worn brake pipes.
  • You might notice that your braking distance has increased.
  • When you brake last minute, your car skids or you can feel the brake pedal vibrating.

How is a brake pipe replacement done?

You will not be able to change the car brake pipe yourself unless you are very handy and have all the right equipment. But here's how it goes down:

Before starting the replacement procedure, the car should be lifted from the ground and the wheels should be removed, as they are placed in front of the brake pipes.

In order to not lose too much brake fluid, a container should be placed below the brake line location because brake fluid can flow from the pipes.

You can then detach the short rubber brake lines/hoses from the end of the pipe.

When everything is ready, you just remove the old pipes at both ends. To do this, you have to unplug the hose connectors and draw out the pipes.

You then find the correct length for the new copper brake pipes. Next, you need to use a brake pipe flaring tool kit to flare the pipes to ensure the connection is leak-proof when you install the new pipes. If you do not know how to use a brake pipe flaring tool, please ask your mechanic for advice.

After this, you can bend and form the new pipes to match the shape of the old ones, so they will fit into the system. Once you have them in the right shape, you can install the new pipes by plugging them into the hose connectors.

It's always important to remember to bleed your car’s brakes after this procedure to make sure there's no air in the system.

The whole operation usually takes around 3-4 hours.

It is advisable to get a mechanic to perform the replacement of the car brake pipe to ensure it is done correctly.

If you are considering brake pipe replacement, receive quotes on autobutler.co.uk and compare prices to find the best deal in your area.

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Prices on a brake repair

The average prices and savings for the car brands shown are based on different models and years. You must therefore create a job and compare quotes to see your actual price and savings.
Make Save on average*
Audi
4.8
(14)
£102 / 23%
BMW
4.6
(31)
£141 / 23%
Ford
4.7
(19)
£84 / 22%
Mercedes-Benz
4.6
(16)
£121 / 26%
Nissan
4.9
(8)
£74 / 23%
Peugeot
4.9
(9)
£74 / 23%
Renault
5.0
(6)
£86 / 22%
Toyota
4.7
(3)
£94 / 26%
Vauxhall
4.9
(12)
£80 / 22%
Volkswagen
4.6
(12)
£91 / 25%

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