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Brake Line Replacing
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Brake Line Replacing

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

***

Tools:

11mm, 12mm line wrenches, vise grips, bubble flare tool, line cutter

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2001-06)

Parts Required:

Brake fluid, brake line, line unions and ends

Hot Tip:

Bleed vehicle twice to ensure all air is removed from system

Performance Gain:

Good brake operation

Complementary Modification:

Replace worn brake parts

Good brakes are essential on all automobiles. Keeping them in proper working order is one of the most important things you can do. When you step on your brake pedal you are compressing a piston in your brake master cylinder. This cylinder is full of brake fluid. The brake fluid that is now under pressure travels through your brake lines and is finally applied to your caliper. It's the calipers job to squeeze down on the brake pads against the rotor to slow down your car. If the master cylinder cannot create enough pressure to clamp down on the pistons, the brakes will have poor feel. The poor feel could be caused by leaking brake lines. On E53 X5 models, the brake lines often leak, right under the left side footwell. If you find a leaking brake line, you will need to replace it. 

You can remove a few body panels and replace the lines yourself, saving a ton of money. With just a few steel line tools and wrenches, this can be done in an afternoon.

Remember your car may have been serviced before and parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below.

Disconnect the negative battery terminal. See our tech article on battery replacing.

On E53 X5 models, the brake lines often leak, right under the left side footwell (red arrow).
Figure 1

On E53 X5 models, the brake lines often leak, right under the left side footwell (red arrow).

This photo shows the section of line that usually leaks.
Figure 2

This photo shows the section of line that usually leaks. Note the rust on the line near the holder. The line mount (holder) doesn't clear debris or water well and causes the lines to rot.

To access the lines, you have to remove the plastic shield and trim at the side of the vehicle.
Figure 3

To access the lines, you have to remove the plastic shield and trim at the side of the vehicle. Start by removing the plastic rivets and 8mm fasteners for the plastic shield (red arrow). Then remove the plastic splash shield from under the vehicle. Once this piece is unfastened, you will have to lower the vehicle and remove the jack stands to fit it out. Once out, jack and support the vehicle again.

Next, remove the front wheel well liner and wheel well trim.
Figure 4

Next, remove the front wheel well liner and wheel well trim. See our tech article on wheel well liner replacing. Unclip the plastic trim at the side of the body, starting at the back (red arrow), working toward the front until detached, then remove.

Unclip the plastic trim at the side of the body, starting at the back (red arrow), working toward the front until detached, then remove.
Figure 5

Unclip the plastic trim at the side of the body, starting at the back (red arrow), working toward the front until detached, then remove.

You now have access to the brake lines.
Figure 6

You now have access to the brake lines. BMW installs the steel lines with unions (red arrows). Most of the time I can get them separated here; if they will not come apart, you will have to remove the lines at the master cylinder, and replace them all the way to the rear of the vehicle. The lines to the master cylinder run up the body and wheel well. When purchasing steel lines parts, you will need two line nuts, one 10x1.0mm (yellow arrow) and one 12x1.0mm (purple arrow). You will need 4.7mm steel brake lines in the length needed to repair your leak.

Next the steel lines have to be separated at the union.
Figure 7

Next the steel lines have to be separated at the union. I grab the union with vise grips (purple arrow) and an 11mm line wrench (red arrow).

Using a flathead screwdriver, lever the brake line mount open (red arrow).
Figure 8

Using a flathead screwdriver, lever the brake line mount open (red arrow).

Pull both brake lines out of the mount.
Figure 9

Pull both brake lines out of the mount.

Working at the rear mount, pull the brake lines out of the mount.
Figure 10

Working at the rear mount, pull the brake lines out of the mount.

Next, use a small tubing cutter (red arrow) to cut the brake lines in a clean and rot free area.
Figure 11

Next, use a small tubing cutter (red arrow) to cut the brake lines in a clean and rot free area. This is where you will section in the new steel lines. Once cut, clean the factory coating off the line, use a metal scraper.

Slide the new line nuts (red arrows) over the lines (purple arrows).
Figure 12

Slide the new line nuts (red arrows) over the lines (purple arrows).

I usually cut the front of the lines using diagonal cutters, then unscrew them using a line wrench.
Figure 13

I usually cut the front of the lines using diagonal cutters, then unscrew them using a line wrench. This makes it easier because the lines are usually frozen in the line nut.

Measure the old line (red arrow), then cut the new line (purple arrow) close to the same length (a little longer), then bend it using a tubing bender to match the shape of the old line.
Figure 14

Measure the old line (red arrow), then cut the new line (purple arrow) close to the same length (a little longer), then bend it using a tubing bender to match the shape of the old line.

Install the line nut onto one end of the line (inset).
Figure 15

Install the line nut onto one end of the line (inset). Then use a bubble flaring tool to flare one of the line.

With the line nuts on the rear section of old line, bubble flare both of the rear sections of line.
Figure 16

With the line nuts on the rear section of old line, bubble flare both of the rear sections of line.

Install the line unions (red arrow), then install the new steel line to the old rear lines.
Figure 17

Install the line unions (red arrow), then install the new steel line to the old rear lines.

Adjust and install the new line into the body and line holders (do not snap the holders closed yet, once you have them in place, take a final measurement and cut the line.
Figure 18

Adjust and install the new line into the body and line holders (do not snap the holders closed yet, once you have them in place, take a final measurement and cut the line. Then install the correct sized line nut and bubble flare the line. Join the lines at the front union and tighten the new steel lines.

Be sure the lines (purple arrow) do not run or touch the body or each other.
Figure 19

Be sure the lines (purple arrow) do not run or touch the body or each other. They should look even and similar to when BMW installed the original lines. Then snap the holders (red arrow) shut. Bleed the brakes before reinstalling the trim panels, in case you have a leak at one of your connections. Once you have a solid pedal and no leaks, install the body trim panels and top up the brake fluid.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 03:03:38 AM