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Replacing steel brake lines

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Old 01-30-2010, 01:15 PM   #1
scottnh1970
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Replacing steel brake lines

Newbie here,

I have searched and read various posts on the topic. I need to remove all brake lines (steel) master cylinder to ABS unit, ABS unit to the front brakes—plus the rail line to the rear in the axle. My truck is a 1998 XLT V8 AWD with ABS all stock. I need to change the lines because all lines were flagged on MD inspection. The truck has 231,000 miles on it and I got it from my dad for free.

My question is, how difficult is this project for someone who has never worked on a car other then tune-ups and oil changes. I don't know how to bleed a brake system or how to jack-up a explorer without it falling on me.

What tools and parts are need for the job?
Example: What jack stand and how many do I need? I'm told 20" or higher for a truck? What pump jack to get? Will any work? Do I need to remove the front tires? etc.

I have bought a flaring tool kit, small pipe cutter, 25ft of polymer coated 3/16 lines that are hand bendable. I know from researching on this site, to remove a line, then use it as a template for the new line. To also double flare the ends. I just don't want to screw things up once I start cutting things out.

The local shop wants to charge $900 for the labor. They say it will take them 10 hrs.


This would be my first big auto project. Would like to get it done over the weekend. I'm nervous about doing it and would appreciate an honest opinion.
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Old 01-30-2010, 03:42 PM   #2
thumper477
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Brake work should not be your first venture into car repair.Start with something simpler that does'nt have the risk of a brake failure or a crash if your work is substandard.I just replaced most of the lines on my 97 ex and it was a pain to do even with a lift.You need to find an experienced mechanicaly inclined person to help you with this project.In my area there a lot of people that advertise on Craigslist that do repairs at discounted rates.You can probably find someone to help you and give you a discounted rate to be their apprentice.Think outside of the box.The shop that gave you that estimate has a lot of expenses to stay in business and has to charge what he does to stay in business.
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Old 01-30-2010, 08:13 PM   #3
96eb96
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Originally Posted by scottnh1970 View Post
Newbie here,

I have searched and read various posts on the topic. I need to remove all brake lines (steel) master cylinder to ABS unit, ABS unit to the front brakes—plus the rail line to the rear in the axle. My truck is a 1998 XLT V8 AWD with ABS all stock. I need to change the lines because all lines were flagged on MD inspection. The truck has 231,000 miles on it and I got it from my dad for free.

My question is, how difficult is this project for someone who has never worked on a car other then tune-ups and oil changes. I don't know how to bleed a brake system or how to jack-up a explorer without it falling on me.

What tools and parts are need for the job?
Example: What jack stand and how many do I need? I'm told 20" or higher for a truck? What pump jack to get? Will any work? Do I need to remove the front tires? etc.

I have bought a flaring tool kit, small pipe cutter, 25ft of polymer coated 3/16 lines that are hand bendable. I know from researching on this site, to remove a line, then use it as a template for the new line. To also double flare the ends. I just don't want to screw things up once I start cutting things out.

The local shop wants to charge $900 for the labor. They say it will take them 10 hrs.


This would be my first big auto project. Would like to get it done over the weekend. I'm nervous about doing it and would appreciate an honest opinion.
I've done this job and I posted a how to description if you search. It is not really for a beginner(I consider it intermediate to advanced), I asked two shops and they weren't even thrilled about doing it. It takes a lot of time (even for a pro) and they could be doing other easier jobs that have good markups on parts (that is why its so expensive). You should ask around in other shops, some may have had experience doing an ex in the past and they know all the tricks and bends...they may pass the savings on to you.

One trick is to leave much of the old brake line in the frame rail. One time wasting mistake I made was trying to remove what is in the framerail, but there is an extra conduit clip to secure the new line. I also did it with separate pieces of line, its good you bought the coil. (A shop actually told me to to buy pieces). You only have to cut the line behind the rear wheel, maybe the last 18 inches or so.


If you can do this job start to finish you could probably work as a brake tech in a shop. You also have to bleed the brakes afterwards. Also, I suggest replacing the rubber hoses, they are like 50 bucks for all of them at NAPA.

You don't really need a lift, just the back on two 3 ton jackstands. The driver rear wheel should come off. Chock the front wheels VERY WELL. The front wheels can stay on, but you will have to lay under the truck. The line over the differential is the easiest to do.

You also have to replace the stainless steel flex lines near the ABS unit with coiled hard line. If the line isn't rusted maybe salvage them and flare. Reuse the ABS nuts.

The line to the front passenger side is a pita, you may want to modify the stock path slightly. You can always use wireties. Remember those stock lines are prebent and installed when you ex had nothing under the hood!

Practice flaring too, you need to clean all the burrs off the cut end of the line and create sort of a cone shape. You also need a wood countersink bit to clean up the inside of the tube. Run some compressed air thru the lines before installing.

Also, you should probably have alternate transportation if you are doing this in case you run into a snag.
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Old 01-30-2010, 08:23 PM   #4
TooManyTrucks
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Terrible crappy job..I am pretty good and do all of my own work and I took this to a shop just because I didn't want to do it..too cold, too rusty and I didn't have a lift to get it in the air...Keep shopping..I took it to a local shop $200 for the one side front to back...

Don't do it yourself if it is the first job you do...




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Old 01-30-2010, 08:31 PM   #5
96eb96
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Terrible crappy job..I am pretty good and do all of my own work and I took this to a shop just because I didn't want to do it..too cold, too rusty and I didn't have a lift to get it in the air...Keep shopping..I took it to a local shop $200 for the one side front to back...

Don't do it yourself if it is the first job you do...
Agreed, the first time doing it (even if you are a tech) is terrible. I wouldn't have attempted this unless I had years of other major car repairs that I completed.

I wonder if anyone in Florida, Arizona or Cali had this issue, I think its only a salt belt problem.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:00 PM   #6
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Start by soaking all the bleeders and connection points with PB Blaster. If you start busting bleeders off, it will be more $$$ and work.




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Old 01-31-2010, 01:14 AM   #7
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I just did the line in the frame rail on my 91.. Its not that bad.. Get a coil of tube and practice doing the double flares.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:45 AM   #8
scottnh1970
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I've done this job and I posted a how to description if you search. It is not really for a beginner(I consider it intermediate to advanced), I asked two shops and they weren't even thrilled about doing it. It takes a lot of time (even for a pro) and they could be doing other easier jobs that have good markups on parts (that is why its so expensive). You should ask around in other shops, some may have had experience doing an ex in the past and they know all the tricks and bends...they may pass the savings on to you.

One trick is to leave much of the old brake line in the frame rail. One time wasting mistake I made was trying to remove what is in the framerail, but there is an extra conduit clip to secure the new line. I also did it with separate pieces of line, its good you bought the coil. (A shop actually told me to to buy pieces). You only have to cut the line behind the rear wheel, maybe the last 18 inches or so.


If you can do this job start to finish you could probably work as a brake tech in a shop. You also have to bleed the brakes afterwards. Also, I suggest replacing the rubber hoses, they are like 50 bucks for all of them at NAPA.

You don't really need a lift, just the back on two 3 ton jackstands. The driver rear wheel should come off. Chock the front wheels VERY WELL. The front wheels can stay on, but you will have to lay under the truck. The line over the differential is the easiest to do.

You also have to replace the stainless steel flex lines near the ABS unit with coiled hard line. If the line isn't rusted maybe salvage them and flare. Reuse the ABS nuts.

The line to the front passenger side is a pita, you may want to modify the stock path slightly. You can always use wireties. Remember those stock lines are prebent and installed when you ex had nothing under the hood!

Practice flaring too, you need to clean all the burrs off the cut end of the line and create sort of a cone shape. You also need a wood countersink bit to clean up the inside of the tube. Run some compressed air thru the lines before installing.

Also, you should probably have alternate transportation if you are doing this in case you run into a snag.

Thanks for the great advice. I have called a few other places and they were similar in price (cheapest was $750). This was a free truck from my dad and now a 3rd vehicle so I don't need to worry about using right now—Just getting it done before the MD inspection expires. My background hasn't been working on 4x4 trucks outside of tune-ups and oil changes as I said, but I do know motorcycles. I have a few and have rebuilt and modified them for the past 15 yrs, so I am mechanically incline—just a newbie on 4x4s and cars (a lot more sensors and parts). With motorcycles it's just easier and smaller.

With that said, I think I'm going to try this project and get it done in 2 weeks. It's has 230,000 mile on it, I know it's history but don't think I want to spend $750-900 when I think I can do it myself (with enough time.) IT looks over whelming but I plan on doing section at a time after bleeding the full system.

I'll buy some stands and a jack and see where it goes—I plan on updating much of the suspension too so I guess I'll learn as I go. I didn't see a steel flex line to replace from the ABS control unit, only hard lines. I have been practicing the flaring on the line I have bought and probably ask for advice again on the forum if I run into something.

Question before I start,
My ABS is located next to the master cylinder—first can I bleed the system without jacking it up? If I start at the rear and work towards the master cylinder the truck will be tipped forward—would I need a bleeding pump then to purge the system instead of gravity?

Second, will there still be brake fluid in the ABS after bleeding the system and is that ok? I read that on 96 explorers on earlier that bleeding the ABS completely is bad and only a service shop can service new brake fluid to the ABS. I didn't see anything regarding after 96 or with the 98 V8, plus my ABS is next to the master cylinder (not like the 96 and earlier) so I think I'm safe.

Again, thank you for the great advice.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:46 AM   #9
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Start by soaking all the bleeders and connection points with PB Blaster. If you start busting bleeders off, it will be more $$$ and work.
Thanks. Good to know. I will do that.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:48 AM   #10
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I just did the line in the frame rail on my 91.. Its not that bad.. Get a coil of tube and practice doing the double flares.
Thanks. I have been practicing. I'm finding it not that difficult once I got the hang of it.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:57 AM   #11
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I noticed you are from MD, as am I. In MD you can transfer a car from parent to child (or vice versa) without requiring an inspection. Look at this link: http://www.mva.maryland.gov/OnlineSe...#Miscellaneous
and scroll down to the 'Gift Certificate VR103' form. To confirm this, I suggest you talk to a good Tag and Tile company. I use Freds tag and Title. Then can give you more info on this. Obviously, you should still the get the brakes repaired, but you can bypass the rest of Marylands Inspection BS if you want to.




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Old 02-01-2010, 11:08 AM   #12
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I noticed you are from MD, as am I. In MD you can transfer a car from parent to child (or vice versa) without requiring an inspection. Look at this link: http://www.mva.maryland.gov/OnlineSe...#Miscellaneous
and scroll down to the 'Gift Certificate VR103' form. To confirm this, I suggest you talk to a good Tag and Tile company. I use Freds tag and Title. Then can give you more info on this. Obviously, you should still the get the brakes repaired, but you can bypass the rest of Marylands Inspection BS if you want to.
Thanks Marragtop. Unfortunately, my parents live in PA and the ex is registered there as well. That's why I have to have it inspected. I didn't reveal that in my earlier posts and thank you for looking that stuff up.
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:56 AM   #13
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Although its an ugly job, it sounds like you have the capacity to handle it. A cheap tube bender might be useful even with bendable lines. Depending on how much "salvage" of old parts / connections, you might consider "full" replacement versus "battling" with stubborn joints.... at calipers (may be partially seized anyways unless recently replaced), at rubber flex hose to brake line connection, etc. One thing that I used on other vehicles is a "micro torch" (little butane lighter type) on stubborn connections... doesn't throw massive amounts of flame but enough to heat up joints to help them break apart more easily... of course you need to look out for any joints that leaking already... don't use there.

You are likely going to have bleeding issue with the ABS but may get lucky. Try fashioning "stops" when you open a line and only open the line when the replacement is already in place. The other thing that I have done in the past, is remove the fill cap / cover and replace it with a cellophane / plastic held tightly with tape or elastics. This seems to help stop / slow the amount of air getting into the system and / or helps prevent fluid leaking from open line ends as a "mini-vacuum" is created.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:15 PM   #14
scottnh1970
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Although its an ugly job, it sounds like you have the capacity to handle it. A cheap tube bender might be useful even with bendable lines. Depending on how much "salvage" of old parts / connections, you might consider "full" replacement versus "battling" with stubborn joints.... at calipers (may be partially seized anyways unless recently replaced), at rubber flex hose to brake line connection, etc. One thing that I used on other vehicles is a "micro torch" (little butane lighter type) on stubborn connections... doesn't throw massive amounts of flame but enough to heat up joints to help them break apart more easily... of course you need to look out for any joints that leaking already... don't use there.

You are likely going to have bleeding issue with the ABS but may get lucky. Try fashioning "stops" when you open a line and only open the line when the replacement is already in place. The other thing that I have done in the past, is remove the fill cap / cover and replace it with a cellophane / plastic held tightly with tape or elastics. This seems to help stop / slow the amount of air getting into the system and / or helps prevent fluid leaking from open line ends as a "mini-vacuum" is created.
I have a small bender and bought polymer hand bendable lines. I expecting everything under the ex to be crappy and seized from what I can see. The fittings on the ABS controller unit look in great condition (guessing since they are located just under the hood—not exposed to salt)

I'll try your suggestion for the bleeding. What bleeding issue will result in the ABS? And can I bleed the system before jacking one end? Confused since I know I have to start from the furthest point from the master cylinder which is the passenger rear. But if I jack the back first, wont most of the fluid go to the front (even when pumping the pedal)?

I was planning on using a torch if need and read that I need to have the hoses disconnected from the calipers and drained or they would explode—if I was torching near a hose. I'm replacing all the brake hoses since I'm doing this.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:52 PM   #15
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You have gotten lots of advice, and since you will be doing this instead of taking to shop I was pleased to read it won't be your dd during the process!
Although a PITA project, it is do-able for a mechanically inclined person. Main point to remember is patience, measure twice, cut once.... In reality I had more trouble doing a brake line replacemet on an 88 Bronco II than when I replaced some on the explorer. It isn't an easy, quick job; but in the end you will have mastered one of the worst aspects of the explorer. Make sure when you're done replacing and ready to bleed that you have some help. Haynes gives a pretty decent explanation of bleeding the brakes. GOOD LUCK and let us know along the way if you stumble into problems.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:46 PM   #16
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Question before I start,
My ABS is located next to the master cylinder—first can I bleed the system without jacking it up? If I start at the rear and work towards the master cylinder the truck will be tipped forward—would I need a bleeding pump then to purge the system instead of gravity?

Second, will there still be brake fluid in the ABS after bleeding the system and is that ok? I read that on 96 explorers on earlier that bleeding the ABS completely is bad and only a service shop can service new brake fluid to the ABS. I didn't see anything regarding after 96 or with the 98 V8, plus my ABS is next to the master cylinder (not like the 96 and earlier) so I think I'm safe.

Again, thank you for the great advice.
When you remove the bleeder screws, use a 6 point socket (not 12 point or open wrench to avoid stripping it). Use an impacting motion on the ratchet (strike it moderately hard in quick bursts instead of using tons of force). Sometimes I use a small air impact on a very low setting(but you have to be careful). Also tightening them a bit can help break the rust. If all else fails buy a yellow mapp torch at lowes and heat the area around the screw. Also, at that mileage, you may just want to change your calipers if you want to keep the truck for a long time. A shop will charge over $1000 w/bleeding just for 4 calipers alone! I have an estimate from midas I got just for fun! Calipers will be less than $200 for all 4.


Bleeding is the very last thing to do when you are done with the new lines. From my experience with these Teves ABS systems on a few cars, you do not need special tools unless you are replacing the ABS unit. My 96 was bone dry, sitting for a few days and I bled it without issue. I suggest buying a hand vac pump at harbor freight to help pull fluid and air thru the new lines. Makes sure to use teflon tape or thread seal on the brake bleeder threads so you know when the air is gone. figure on 6 oz for each rear line, 4 oz for the front lines. Another thing, sometimes its difficult to get fluid into the new lines, what I do is place a piece of wood between the seat and pedal and push the power seat so the brake pedal goes 1/2-3/4 way down (not all the way though, it could ruin the old master cyl). Then I open the bleeder screw<air or squirt>, close it, push the power seat back, repeat. You get the idea. This is better than using your SO, because you are sure they are not lifting their foot off the pedal at the wrong time.

Also, when doing the frame rail, just push your finger in and snap the new line in the channel. There is just enuf clearance between the rail and the tank. At first I thought you have to remove the tank!
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:54 PM   #17
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Soak everything with PB Blaster for 24 hours before trying to loosen the lines.




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Old 02-01-2010, 03:26 PM   #18
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i replaced my rear brake lines because i had a bad ABS valve. but i also had a difficult time getting good flares so i cut my lines too short.

so i replaced my lines. luckly they came with their own fittings brand new but there werent the same size as the MC. so i reused the ones to the MC and joined them with a double end type

i didnt bother jacking my car up i just laid an old sleeping bag to do the job.

i am still a noob at this but it has worked. so you might just have to do more but the work is the same

i just "gravity" bled the brakes and i had to use an assortment of tools

1. ratchets

2 open wrenches and flare nut wrenches

3. PB blaster

4 MOST IMPORTANTLY! Double Flaring tool THEY MUST BE DOUBLE FLARED! i got mine at CSK for 24 USD but now i see them at HF that do double flare

anyhow if you have any questions i will try to help. i know your generation of ploder is differnet but this video might help
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:48 PM   #19
budwich
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In general, for "normal" brake work, you start bleeding "furtherest" away (ie. back calipers, then front) but I am not sure it matters much in line replacement. "Tilting" your vehicle isn't going to help much unless you can get the "disconnected connection" above the brake fluid reservoir. The "bleed rule" (furthest first).... is you basically "push" fluid and hopefully air out the "far point" of the lines and work in.... draw a simple diagram of your system to help see the lines and where air will be introduced.... normally at the point of connection / disconnection (in the case of caliper replacement) or at the reservoir if you let it go dry. In your case, where you are replacing all lines (what ever that means), you would likely just "mass replace" everything from the ABS out.... trying to keep the fluid in the reservior / abs system. Once you have rerun the new lines, disconnect old and reconnect new. Then "gravity bleed" furthest away and work back as the lines you just connected will only have air in them that you don't want to "pump" into the system components (ie. master cylinder, calipers, abs). Once that "gravity bleed" is "clean" (ie. running without bubbles / blurbs), you can then do a "normal" bleed at each caliper with the "open,pump,and close" method. IF you are lucky/good, odds are good that most air will be out of the system... assuming you never let the reservoir go dry and your connections are good everywhere.

The main problem (one of them along with the physical effort of running lines) that you will have will be avoiding air in the ABS portion of the system as this takes an "exerciser" with an appropriate scanner.... and I am assuming that your "edict" might not need to have the lines between the ABS and master replaced as they are normally away from the "road crud". However, once you "practice" on the standard lines, you will likely be just as successful at replacing the "interlines" between the systems.
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Old 02-02-2010, 08:57 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by budwich View Post
In your case, where you are replacing all lines (what ever that means), you would likely just "mass replace" everything from the ABS out....
Yes, I am replacing all brake (hard lines). All lines are rusted but some are in better shape then others. Regardless, the entire hydraulic brake system was flagged in MD inspection to replace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by budwich View Post
trying to keep the fluid in the reservior / abs system. and I am assuming that your "edict" might not need to have the lines between the ABS and master replaced as they are normally away from the "road crud". However, once you "practice" on the standard lines, you will likely be just as successful at replacing the "interlines" between the systems.
The lines and fittings from the ABS closer to the hood and master cylinder are in good shape. Once they go below the master cylinder they are rusted ( and what was flagged in inspection.) So I will have to remove the lines to the ABS as well.

Will this introduce air to the system regardless of keeping the reservoir filled? Confused. There is 1 line from the ABS control module direct to the master cylinder. Then 4 go down towards the left caliper and spread out from there.

I was going to bleed and replace one section at a time starting—rear axle, rear left/right hoses—then passenger front line, left hose, then right and hose, then 4 lines going up to ABS, then master line to ABS using a vacuum hand pump bleeder.

How can I do this without introducing air into the ABS module?

I plan on starting this weekend and don't want to damage the ABS. I did read in the Haynes the ABS warning when bleeding but only on 96 and earlier.
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