Brake hoses, sometimes used interchangeably with the term “brake lines,” carry brake fluid between the master cylinder and the wheel cylinder or brake calipers - depending upon the type of brakes you have. The pressure from the brake fluid presses these parts against the discs or drums, causing the tires to stop.
Although small and less expensive than the remaining brake system components, these hoses play a critical role in brake function, and therefore, your safety. They can crack or erode over time, causing weak spots that may balloon up – if these spots burst you could experience a major loss of brake fluid and possible brake failure while driving. Thus it’s best to replace them as soon as you suspect a problem, as with soft brakes or leaking brake fluid.
There are a couple different types of hoses available – all rubber, or rubber with a stainless steel braided outer. Braided hoses typically offer a harder braking feel because the outer layer doesn’t expand quite as much as a hose that’s all rubber. Hoses with a stainless steel braided exterior also tend to allow a slow leak if something happens to the rubber, rather than the big burst you get with the all rubber version.
Regardless of the type you choose, you want to make sure you’re getting a durable hose, because braking is such a vital component of your car’s safety systems.
When you are searching for a new hose, keep a few things in mind to make sure you’re getting a good quality brake hose:
Dry-rot: Make sure they are dry-rot resistant. Dry-rot will make the hoses brittle and more prone to failure.
Corrosion free: Check for corrosion-resistant fittings – you don’t want a leak around the connecting ends any more than you do through the rubber.
Reputation: Don’t buy cheap imitations – make sure you’re buying from a reputable store or website, as there are low-quality knockoffs (particularly with stainless steel braided) that are hard to tell apart from the real thing.
Warranty: Check the warranty. This varies widely between makers – for example Dorman offers a lifetime limited warranty on brake hoses, whereas some others have a limit on the mileage or number of years.
Brake hoses are an important part to get right the first time, so make sure you’re getting good quality for the price.
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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Brake Hose and was authored by Valerie Johnston.