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Pelican Technical Article:

Brake Line Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$20 to $200

Talent:

**

Tools:

11mm wrench and flare-nut wrench, flathead screwdriver

Applicable Models:

VW Golf (2004-06)
VW GTI (2006-09)

Parts Required:

New rubber or stainless steel brake lines

Hot Tip:

Make sure that corroded rubber from old lines didn't end up in your caliper

Performance Gain:

Better braking performance

Complementary Modification:

Rebuild calipers, replace brake pads, flush brake system, replace master cylinder

Like many modern manufacturers Volkswagen shares components and even platforms across its many model lines. This article is based on one of those shared components but the work may have been performed on a different model than your vehicle. While some fasteners and other hardware types and sizes may be different, all of the information you need to safely complete the project is included in this article. If you have any questions, comments or feedback please contact us using the comment section below or join us on one of the world's best automotive forums for additional assistance.

One of the most popular projects for the GTI is the replacement of the flexible brake lines that connect from the main chassis of the car to the brake calipers. These lines are made out of rubber and have a tendency to break down and corrode over many years. The rubber lines should be carefully inspected every 10,000 miles or so. They can exhibit strange characteristics, such as bubbling and expanding prior to actually bursting. Needless to say, failure of these lines is a very bad thing, as you will instantly lose pressure in one half of your brake system.

Faulty brake lines in the front of your Volkswagen GTI can cause all sorts of steering problems when braking. It is common for bad hoses to cause a car to dart from side to side when braking. Bad hoses allow pressure to build up in the caliper, but sometimes do not release this pressure properly when the pedal is depressed.

The first step in replacing your lines is to elevate the car. Please see our article on safely jacking up and supporting your vehicle. Remove the wheels from each side of the car, as this will make it much easier to access the brake lines. To prevent a large amount of brake fluid from leaking out, I recommend pushing the brake pedal down just to the point of engagement and block it there. If you do this, you will lose less brake fluid, and also less air will enter into the system.

The brake lines themselves can be very difficult to remove. The goal of this job is to remove the lines without damaging anything else. In this case, the easiest thing to damage (besides your paint) is the hard steel brake lines that connect to the flexible rubber lines. These lines have relatively soft fittings on each end and often become deformed and stripped when removed. The key to success is to use a flare-nut wrench. This wrench is basically designed for jobs like this one where the fittings are soft and might be heavily corroded. The flared end of the wrench hugs the fitting and prevents it from stripping. It is very important to use only one of these wrenches, as it is very easy to damage the fittings using a regular crescent wrench.

You must properly bleed the entire brake system after replacing your brake lines. Do NOT attempt to drive the vehicle until you have properly bled the system.

The rubber brake lines are often responsible for poor brake performance.
Figure 1

The rubber brake lines are often responsible for poor brake performance. As the car ages, the rubber begins to break down and can clog the lines, leading to very little pressure getting to the calipers. The brake lines should be renewed if they are old or if you are having problems with your brakes. The red arrow points to the flexible brake line on the front of the car that needs to be replaced. The yellow arrow point to the fitting on the hard brake lines that needs to be released using an 11mm flare-nut wrench and the green arrow points to the 11mm bolt that secures the banjo fitting to the front of the caliper.

A required tool is an 11mm flare-nut wrench (red arrow) that fully wraps around the brake line.
Figure 2

A required tool is an 11mm flare-nut wrench (red arrow) that fully wraps around the brake line. If you use a standard wrench, then there is a high chance of rounding off the corners and permanently damaging the hard brake lines. These fittings are not very strong and will become stripped if you don't use one of these wrenches. The other disastrous thing that can happen is that the fitting can get stuck to the rest of the hard line. The fitting is supposed to turn and rotate on the end of the line, but sometimes it becomes too corroded to break free. When this happens, the fitting and the line will usually twist together, and it will break the line in half. Be careful when you are removing this fitting to make sure that you are not twisting the line. You do not need to counter hold the line as the mounting bracket secures the line in place.

After separating the brake line use a small flathead screwdriver and gently pry the clip (red arrow) away.
Figure 3

After separating the brake line use a small flathead screwdriver and gently pry the clip (red arrow) away. Always use eye protection when working on your vehicle.

You can now remove the rubber line (red arrow) from the bracket (yellow arrow).
Figure 4

You can now remove the rubber line (red arrow) from the bracket (yellow arrow).

The flexible line going into the caliper uses an 11mm banjo bolt (red arrow) to attach the line to the caliper.
Figure 5

The flexible line going into the caliper uses an 11mm banjo bolt (red arrow) to attach the line to the caliper. Use an 11mm socket or wrench and remove it. You do not need to use a flared nut wrench for this fitting.

When installing your new line make sure that you have a new washer between the banjo bolt and fitting and the fitting and caliper (red arrows).
Figure 6

When installing your new line make sure that you have a new washer between the banjo bolt and fitting and the fitting and caliper (red arrows).

The line on the rear caliper is a combination hard line (yellow arrow) and rubber line (red arrow).
Figure 7

The line on the rear caliper is a combination hard line (yellow arrow) and rubber line (red arrow). The hard line is fastened down to the swing arm.

The fitting on the end of the hard line is the same type of fitting used on the front of the car and needs an 11mm flared nut wrench to be removed safely (red arrow).
Figure 8

The fitting on the end of the hard line is the same type of fitting used on the front of the car and needs an 11mm flared nut wrench to be removed safely (red arrow).

The fitting on the caliper is the same as the fitting to the caliper on the front (red arrow).
Figure 9

The fitting on the caliper is the same as the fitting to the caliper on the front (red arrow). Make sure to use two of the proper washers when installing the new line. You must properly bleed the entire brake system after replacing your brake lines. Do NOT attempt to drive the vehicle until you have properly bled the system. Installation is the reverse of removal.


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