Brakes are one of the most important components of a vehicle, and having a braking system that’s up to par is crucial for your safety on the road. If you want to replace your brake lines, you may have heard conflicting opinions on which type is superior. Knowing which is right for you can be tough with so many products available.
The debate over whether steel brake lines or rubber brake lines are the better choice is a longstanding one. Both materials have their own advantages and disadvantages; ultimately, the right choice will depend on your driving style, vehicle type, and personal preferences.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the differences between steel and rubber brake lines, weighing up the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.
Table of Contents
About Steel Brake Lines
Stainless steel brake lines are designed with braided stainless steel fibers, providing both durability and flexibility. Certain models may also incorporate additional materials, such as Kevlar.
Stainless steel brake lines offer several advantages over rubber brake lines, including greater durability and resistance to tears from debris. They also maintain brake response sensitivity over time and are popular for off-road enthusiasts and those seeking highly responsive brakes.
While stainless steel lines are known for their resistance, they still have some disadvantages. Detecting tears on a stainless steel line can be more challenging than on a rubber one. Additionally, some stainless steel brake lines require maintenance of their PVC coating to prevent leaks.
Steel brake lines are a type of brake line made from high-quality steel tubing that is designed to replace the standard rubber brake hoses in vehicles. These lines are typically used in high-performance vehicles, as they offer several advantages over traditional rubber brake hoses.
One of the main benefits of steel brake lines is their durability.Unlike rubber hoses, steel brake lines are able to withstand high temperatures and pressures, making them less likely to fail over time. This can help to improve the overall safety and reliability of a vehicle’s braking system.
In addition to their durability, steel brake lines are also able to provide a better brake pedal feel and more consistent braking performance. This is because steel brake lines are less prone to expanding under pressure, which can cause a spongy feel in the brakepedaland reduce the effectiveness of the brakes.
There are also some potential downsides to using steel brake lines.For example, steel brake lines can be more difficult to install than rubber hoses and may require special tools or expertise to fit them into a vehicle’s brake system properly. Additionally, steel brake lines can be more expensive than rubber hoses, which may make them less accessible for some drivers.
Overall, steel brake lines are a good choice for drivers who prioritize performance, durability, and consistent braking performance. However, they may not be the best choice for all drivers and should be chosen based on individual needs and preferences.
What are Rubber Brake Lines?
Rubber brake lines are composed of EPDM rubber that is layered to create a durable and strong hose, despite the misconception that the term “rubber hose” implies flimsiness.Rubber is an affordable material that is also of high quality, making it ideal for brake lines.
It can withstand temperature changes, environmental factors, and movement effectively. While it works well for most drivers, it may not be the best choice for those seeking optimal performance.
Rubber can both excel and falter. As time passes, rubber tends to stretch, reducing its responsiveness. However, this stretching process takes a long time, allowing most drivers to adapt their brake times accordingly. Additionally, rubber brake hoses are initially very firm and typically withstand wear and tear.
The main advantage of rubber brake lines is their flexibility. This can make installation a breeze compared to steel brake lines. They also offer some vibration dampening, which means they’ll be quieter than steel brake lines when braking. Additionally, rubber brake lines are generally cheaper than steel ones, making them an attractive choice for those on a budget.
The main disadvantage of rubber brake lines is their tendency to leak more easily than steel brake lines. Over time, the rubber material can degrade and crack, leading to air in the brake system and reducedbraking performance. Additionally, rubber brake lines have a lower burst pressure rating than steel ones, meaning they may not withstand heavy braking or steel brake lines.
Steel Brake Lines vs Rubber Brake Lines: What to Choose?
Regarding brake lines, you have a choice between steel and rubber. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consider what factors are most important for your vehicle when deciding.
Steel brake lines are more durable than rubber ones because they don’t wear out as quickly or easily. They also provide better braking performance due to less flexing in the lines. However, steel brake lines can be more difficult to install and require special tools or expertise. Additionally, they may be more expensive than rubber hoses.
Rubber brake lines are flexible and easy to install, making them ideal for those who don’t have access to specialized tools or expertise. They also tend to be cheaper than steel brake lines.
However, rubber brakes might not be the best choice for drivers prioritizing performance and durability. Additionally, they may be prone to leaks due to their tendency to stretch over tie.
Ultimately, the decision between steel brake lines and rubber brake lines should be based on individual needs and preferences.Steel lines are a good choice for drivers who want more performance, durability, and consistent braking performance, while rubber lines can be better suited for those seeking an easy installation or lower cost.
Frequently Asked Questions[FAQs]
1. Are Steel Brake Lines Better?
When it comes to brake lines, there are two main types of materials used in their construction: steel and rubber. Both offer advantages and drawbacks, so the choice depends on what is best for your needs. Steel brake lines are generally more durable than rubber ones and provide better corrosion resistance.
2. Are Braided Brake Lines Better Than Rubber?
When it comes to brake lines, the decision between steel braided and rubber can be a difficult one. Both have pros and cons and deciding which is best for your vehicle largely depends on your driving needs and preferences.
3. What Are The Advantages Of Steel Brake Lines?
Steel brake lines provide several advantages, including increased durability, better corrosion resistance, and improved braking performance. Additionally, steel lines are typically more responsive than rubber ones, making for a smoother braking experience. However, they can be difficult to install due to their rigidity and may require specialized tools or expertise.
4. Will Steel Brake Lines Rust?
Steel brake lines will not rust as long as they are properly installed and maintained. Rust can only occur when steel is exposed to moisture for an extended period of time, so if the brake lines are covered with a protective coating and kept clean, rust should never be an issue. Steel lines are also more durable than rubber brake lines, so they may need fewer repairs over the vehicle’s life.
5. How Long Do Rubber Brake Lines Last?
According to BrakeQuip, a manufacturer of aftermarket brake hoses, the typical lifespan of a rubber brake hose is 6 years. The wear and tear of the brake hoses can vary depending on factors such as weather conditions, driving style, and storage.
At the end of the day, both steel and rubber brake lines have advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your vehicle type, driving style, budget, and personal preference. Steel brake lines may be the way to go if you’re looking for a more reliable braking system that can handle heavy braking applications.
A copper brake line is the best quality brake lines you can buy for a longer-lasting life on any vehicle, farm vehicle and industrial vehicles alike. Copper tubing is easy to replace because it is a pliable and bendable product that can make bends and turns without breaking.Are stainless steel brake lines better than rubber? ›
Both types of brake hoses are effective and offer reliable performance. If you use your vehicle for general, everyday use and you're just looking for a dependable, cost-effective choice, then rubber is for you. If you favour look and enhanced performance, then stainless steel is the best option.Are steel brake lines better? ›
Braided stainless steel brake lines can withstand the pressure associated with the brake system and don't swell. As a result, their lifespan is much longer. This means they can maintain high performance over a long period.What are the disadvantages of stainless steel brake lines? ›
Unfortunately, stainless steel lines have some downsides as well. They are more resistant, sure, but nothing is ever completely resistant, and finding a tear on a stainless steel line is much more difficult than it is on a rubber one.What is the easiest brake line to work with? ›
Alloy brake tubing has the same structural integrity of plain steel tubing but offers better corrosion resistance characteristics and is easier to work with and bend into shape than plain steel.What is the easiest brake line to flare? ›
Cupronickel is a nickel-copper alloy that is softer than steel, bends easy and doesn't rust, flaring it is easy and it is less expensive than stainless. If you are plumbing a whole car, cupronickel makes forming custom line easy, so that is what we used in our project.What PSI is a rubber brake line? ›
All rubber lines have a working pressure of 3,000 psi and meet or exceed FMVSS standards.What is the best material for brake hose? ›
Aluminum, stainless steel and steel are very strong and resistant materials. They also withstand high temperatures very well. This makes them perfect for use in braking systems as this is an application where temperatures are high and expected to rise.Is stainless steel brake line harder to flare? ›
Stainless steel brake lines can be a bit more of a challenge to bend. The hardiness of steel can make flaring a difficult process.What size brake line is best? ›
The answer is really pretty easy. Almost every car or truck worldwide utilizes a 3/16-inch brake line, also referred to as a CNF-3. The other most common brake line is the ¼ inch. This size was routinely used in the 1950s, so if your truck or car was manufactured in that era, you would need the ¼ inch.
The estimated life of a typical 'rubber' brake hose is 6 years, according to BrakeQuip, the manufacturer of aftermarket rubber and high-performance stainless steel braided brake hoses. The actual wear of your brake hoses depends on weather conditions where you drive and store your vehicle, your driving style, etc.How thick should brake lines be? ›
Brake lines are most often 3/16- or 1/4-inch diameter and, while there will be no pressure difference between the two, there will be a difference in the amount of fluid delivered.What are the strongest brake lines? ›
The most obvious advantage of copper-nickel brake lines is that they are much more durable than traditional steel or stainless steel brake lines. Copper nickel is much less likely to oxidize or corrode, making it ideal for use in dirty or harsh environments.What is the most common brake line failure? ›
The most common way that brake lines fail is that they begin to leak. They are usually made of steel and capable of withstanding pressures. However, they can sometimes become worn or damaged as the vehicle is driven and are susceptible to leaks.Do you need single or double flare for brake lines? ›
All brake lines need to be double flared, due to the high hydraulic pressure. If your brakes leak or the hoses crack, it could prove to be fatal. Single flared lines are suitable for low-pressure lines in other applications, but not your vehicle's brakes.Are compression fittings OK for brake lines? ›
DO NOT USE COMPRESSION FITTINGS to join brake lines. Compression fittings are designed for lower-pressure lines such as those used for fuel, compressed air, and water. These fittings are commonly made of brass, but they're complicated.Is a single flare good for brake line? ›
One important thing to remember is to never use a single flare. Single flares are not durable enough to withhold the pressure and are to never be used on steel brake lines. Brake lines can leak after installment if they are not fitted properly. One of the most common problems is when the flare is imperfect.What is the minimum brake lining allowed by DOT? ›
An air braked commercial motor vehicle shall not be operated with brake lining/pad thickness less than 6.4 mm (1⁄4 inch) or to the wear indicator if the lining is so marked (measured at the shoe center for drum brakes); or less than 3.2 mm (1⁄8 inch) for disc brakes.What is the minimum brake lining dot? ›
If disc brakes are used, the minimum thickness is 3.2 mm (1/8 inch). If hydraulic or electric brakes are used, the minimum thickness is 1.6 mm (1/16 inch).How much pressure can steel brake lines handle? ›
Typical brake line pressures during a stop range from less than 800psi under "normal" conditions, to as much as 2000psi in a maximum effort.
3/8" is 5,955 PSI.How much PSI do you need to bleed brakes? ›
All you have to do is fill the power bleeder with a brake fluid of your choice, pressurize it to about 15 psi, then go and crack your caliper bleeder screw. The pressure is enough to push the old fluid out, no pedal pumping required.How long do steel brake lines last? ›
How long will brake lines generally last? Most new cars and trucks come with stainless steel brake lines that are expected to last seven to fifteen years before requiring replacement. It is one of the most durable parts of your vehicle and is considered a lifetime part.What is the most likely cause of brake hose failure? ›
Brake hoses are constantly exposed to environmental elements and are subjected to flexing, turning, braking, high hydraulic pressure, and abrasion. Together, these factors wear down your hoses. Worn-out brake hoses are more likely to leak brake fluid, and if unchecked, this can lead to total brake system failure.What is the best rubber hose for brake fluid? ›
EPDM hose is the only rubber hose which is compatible with brake fluid. No other hose should be used due to brake fluid contamination.Are 3 16 and 4.75 brake lines the same? ›
The two most common brake lines found are 3/16"/4.75mm and 1/4". The smaller size is 3/16"/4.75mm brake line, CNF-3; and the larger size is 1/4", CNF-4. 3/16" is found on virtually all cars and trucks made in the world.What is the difference between 1 4 inch and 3 16 brake line? ›
Brake lines are most often 3/16 or 1/4 inch in diameter and the only difference is the amount of fluid delivered. The bigger tubing will carry more volume, so 1/4-inch line may be preferable in some instances, disc brake calipers with large piston displacements, as an example.Are brake lines flare 37 or 45? ›
The 45-degree inverted flare is the most common style of flare used in automotive hard lines like brake, fuel, and transmission fluid transfer.How much should new brake lines cost? ›
Typically speaking, you will pay between $250 and $500 for one brake line. This is broken down between a cost for labor which is between about $40 and $50 and a cost for the parts, which is between about $150 and $275. Typically, brake lines need to be replaced around 100,000 miles.What causes rubber brake lines to collapse? ›
Some manufacturers clamp the brake hose to the fender wall. Over time, there is a warring effect between the point where the hose is held tight in the clamp and where it flexes. Over time, the inner tube will rupture again, setting the stage for an implosion of the inner tube.
Brake lines aren't routed the same way in all vehicles. However, replacing your brake line is usually a quick process. With a professional mechanic, it takes about one to two hours. Your mechanic will have to remove the old brake line and put in a new one, or splice the bad section and replace it.Do brake lines need to be coiled? ›
If the lines were short and straight, the motion of the car would eventually crack the brake lines; the continual flexing would fatigue the metal and eventually break it, just the way a spoon bent back and forth repeatedly will eventually break.Is copper tubing OK for brake lines? ›
Steel brake lines can be replaced with copper ones – TRUE
After disproving myths related to brake lines, we would like to show that copper lines can be used in brake systems. They are the standard value replacement of steel lines if they meet all the aspects listed above and the technical requirements.
Easier to maintain: Disc brakes are easier to repair and maintain compared to other types of brakes. Better stopping power: They boost the spotting power substantially. They can generate more friction than other types of brakes, which provides more consistent braking performance.Which brakes do the most stopping? ›
Front brakes handle most of the braking force and build up most of the friction heat. Rear brakes take on less braking force but provide stability to prevent spin-outs and rollovers.What is the main disadvantage of steel? ›
Unlike concrete and wood materials, steel is notorious for rusting in certain environments. Consequently, the costs of painting and maintaining a steel structure can be high. Steel can also be a conductor of heat, which means it needs to be adequately fireproofed.What is the weakness of steel metal? ›
Most steels are susceptible to corrosion due to its iron composition, though the stainless steels address this weakness to some degree of success. Steel has a high level of strength, but this strength is inversely proportional to its toughness, or a measure of resilience to deformation without fracture.What are the disadvantages of black steel? ›
While seamless black steel pipe has several advantages, there are a few drawbacks to consider before deciding whether or not to use it. First, the black coating can wear off if exposed to regular wear and tear or if exposed to other elements. This can make the pipe vulnerable to further corrosion or rust.What is a bad brake line? ›
The easiest way to check for a brake line leak is by holding a flashlight under your car. If you notice drips on the inside of your wheels, rust spots along the lines, or any wet or dry fluid streaks, you could be dealing with a brake line leak.What causes a brake line to snap? ›
Moisture and road salt corrode the steel over time allowing the brake lines to weaken. Once brake lines become damaged, moisture has the ability to get into the braking system. This can limit your brakes overall effectiveness or cause them to fail completely! Safety is of the utmost importance.
3/16-inch tubing is one of the most common sizes used in brake systems, which makes use of a 3/8-24 inverted flare nut like part number 91031820.Should I use 3 16 or 1 4 in brake line? ›
All other vehicles that have been manufactured since then should use the 3/16-inch brake line. The size of the brake line is ultimately determined by the hydraulic system that the manufacturer used. Both sizes, 3/16" and 1/4", deliver the pressurized fluid equally so nothing would be gained by switching to the 1/4".What is the difference between 1 4 and 3 16 brake line? ›
Brake lines are most often 3/16 or 1/4 inch in diameter and the only difference is the amount of fluid delivered. The bigger tubing will carry more volume, so 1/4-inch line may be preferable in some instances, disc brake calipers with large piston displacements, as an example.What are the 2 types of brake lines? ›
There are two basic types of passenger vehicle brake line flares: the double flare (also called the inverted flare) and the bubble flare (also known as the metric flare). It is important to know that these two flare forms are not interchangeable.What is the pressure rating of a 1 4 brake line? ›
1/4" is 8,932 PSI.How do I know what size brake line I need? ›
The easiest thread identification method is to use a thread ID gauge (such as BrakeQuip Thread ID Kit – Part# BQ2100). Alternatively, you can take an unknown male or female part and try to screw it together with a part you already know the size of – if it fits, you now know the size of both.What is the best brake pedal ratio? ›
As a general rule, your pedal ratio should not exceed 6:1 for manual brakes with a 1” bore master cylinder and 4:1 for power brakes with a 1-1/8” bore master.What size is a 3 16 brake line? ›
Allstar 3/16 inch Diameter 72 inch Long Stainless Steel Brake Line features brake lines that are constructed using quality 304 stainless steel. It has a 1/4 inch diameter and the brake line is 12 inches long.Does brake line size matter? ›
Brake lines are most often 3/16- or 1/4-inch diameter and, while there will be no pressure difference between the two, there will be a difference in the amount of fluid delivered.How many psi can brake lines handle? ›
Typical brake line pressures during a stop range from less than 800psi under "normal" conditions, to as much as 2000psi in a maximum effort.
Typically the hydraulic pressure generated during light to normal braking will be from 300psi to 500psi. Panic braking is generally considered to start at about 600psi. The proportioning valve will start to limit pressure to the rear brakes at this time.What is cut in psi for air brakes? ›
When air tank pressure rises to the “cut-out” level (around 125 pounds per-square-inch or “psi”), the governor stops the compressor from pumping air. When the tank pressure falls to the “cut-in” pressure (around 100 psi), the governor allows the compressor to start pumping again.