These bad brake hose symptoms can put you in real danger on the road.
The brake hose connects vital components of the brake system. If it fails entirely, you’ll experience inoperable brakes.
But don’t worry.
We’ll help you pick up on the symptoms early on to ensure you’re not at risk.
Let’s dive right in.
This Article Contains:
- 6 Bad Brake Hose Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
- Is It Safe to Drive with a Bad Brake Hose?
- What Causes the Brake Hose to Go Bad?
- How to Replace a Brake Hose?
- How Do You Maintain the Brake Hoses?
- 4 FAQs on Brake Hoses
6 Bad Brake Hose Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
If your brake hose is worn, these are the common signs to expect:
1. Brake Fluid Leaks
When brake hoses age, they can crack and even split open. These openings allow brake fluid to leak, reducing the hydraulic pressure necessary for proper braking.
How do you know you have a leak?
Your brake fluid will run out quicker than usual and you’ll also notice brake fluid leakage under your car.
2. Spongy Brakes
When you press your pedal, the brake booster multiplies this force to ensure the brakes engage properly. Typically, your brakes should feel firm and responsive. But an unusually soft or mushy brake pedal could mean your brake hose is faulty.
A defective brake hose can cause a brake fluid leakage and allow air into the braking system. This causes insufficient hydraulic pressure, resulting in spongy brakes.
3. Reduced Braking Power
The braking system engages the brake pads by creating hydraulic pressure through the movement of brake fluid.
However, a bad brake hose reduces this pressure, either by inhibiting the flow or through leaking brake fluid. This means there’s less pressure to engage the brakes.
And if the brake hose gets wholly severed, the link to a wheel cylinder (in drum brakes) or brake calipers (in cars with brake discs) would be gone. In other words, there will be no brake pressure, resulting in a complete brake failure over the affected wheel.
4. Brake Warning Lights
The braking system has sensors that monitor brake fluid levels. In the case of leaking brake fluid, they’ll trigger the brake warning light once the level gets too low.
This brake light alert ensures you don’t drive with low brake pressure, keeping you safe. So ensure you have your vehicle checked immediately if you see the brake light warning.
5. Uneven Braking
Each wheel has a separate brake hose connected to the caliper or wheel cylinder. This means a bad brake hose only reduces the braking power of its respective wheel.
When you engage the brake pedal, the pads on the side with the working brake hose generate more braking force than the compromised side. Because one wheel stops quicker, the vehicle pulls to the side.
6. Abnormal Brake Noise
A bad brake hose restricts the back-and-forth movement of brake fluid between the brake line and the caliper or wheel cylinder. Because brake fluid takes longer to flow back to the brake line, it leaves the brake pad engaged for longer.
In cars with brake discs, it causes the wheel caliper to continuously compress each pad against the brake rotor — causing brake grinding noise and possibly a faulty brake caliper. You may also hear a loud grinding sound if the brake rotor disc is in contact with part of the brake caliper,
Should this grinding continue for a prolonged period, you may need a rotor or brake pad replacement. Rather, have a mechanic address it early to avoid the need for a brake repair.
Meanwhile, in a drum brake system, a stuck wheel cylinder will continuously jam the brake shoe against the drum, producing an abnormal brake sound.
Now that you know the symptoms of a bad brake hose, let’s discuss if you should drive with one.
Is It Safe to Drive with a Bad Brake Hose?
You shouldn’t drive with a faulty brake hose as it could lead to:
- Increased stopping distance: A brake fluid leak reduces the amount of hydraulic pressure available to engage the brake pads – increasing braking time.
- Unpredictable braking: A faulty brake hose can cause your car to veer when braking. This can be very dangerous at high speeds.
- Risk of brake failure: If the hose completely ruptures, fluid won’t reach the brakes, and you’ll have inoperable brakes.
So, rather than driving with faulty brakes and risking your safety, it’s best to get your vehicle towed or have a mechanic come to you to fix it.
Curious about why your brake hose went bad in the first place?
Let’s find out.
What Causes the Brake Hose to Go Bad?
Brake hoses deteriorate over time due to normal wear and tear. Typically, it happens through:
- Friction: Brake hoses move to deliver fluid to the wheel while it turns to change the direction of the vehicle. This movement can cause it to rub against other components, resulting in damage over time.
- Corrosion: Exposure to moisture degrades the brake hose material and the metal fittings connected to other brake components.
- Brake fluid contamination: While the inner part of the brake hose is resistant to the corrosive effects of brake fluid, the outer part isn’t. When brake fluid leaks over the outer hose due to a crack, it damages the material.
You know why your brake hose is bad, so let’s look at replacing it.
How to Replace a Brake Hose?
Brake hose replacement is complex and requires expert attention to ensure your safety. So it’s best to have a mechanic take care of it for you.
Here’s what they would do:
- Remove the wheel: After raising the vehicle using a jack or hydraulic lift, they’ll access the brake hose by loosening the nuts and removing the wheel.
- Loosen the fittings: They’ll use a wrench to loosen the fittings that hold the brake hose in place.
- Disconnect the brake hose: Once the fittings are loose, they’ll remove the bad brake hose from the brake line and caliper (or cylinder).
- Attach the new brake hose: The mechanic will insert the new brake hose into the brake line and caliper. They’ll then tighten the fittings to secure it in place.
- Bleed the brakes: Lastly, they’ll bleed the brakes to remove air inside the brake fluid. This involves opening the bleeder valve and pumping the brake pedal to circulate the brake fluid and drive out the air.
You’ll need a brake hose replacement from time to time. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure its longevity and reduce the need for brake repair.
How Do You Maintain the Brake Hoses?
Most professional mechanics agree that a rubber hose lasts about six years. On the flip side, stainless steel hoses can last between five and ten years or even longer.
Here are some tips to help your brake hoses go the extra mile:
- Avoid aggressive braking: Sudden braking generates extra heat and pressure, which wears out the brake hoses faster.
- Don’t overload your vehicle: Extra weight strains the brake system more than usual, as it requires more braking power to stop.
- Maintain the brake fluid: Debris inside the brake fluid puts additional wear on the brake hose.
You should also inspect your brake hoses regularly – if you notice any cracks, bulges, or loose threads, have a mechanic replace them before they fail completely.
Want to know more about brake hoses?
Let’s answer some common questions.
4 FAQs on Brake Hoses
Here are some finer details about brake hoses:
1. How Does a Brake Hose Work?
When you engage the brake pedal, it activates a piston in the master cylinder, pushing brake fluid through the brake lines. But brake lines aren’t flexible, so they can’t attach to the wheel because the wheel moves to allow for steering.
Enter flexible brake hoses – a connection that transfers hydraulic pressure from the brake line to the wheel cylinders or brake calipers, forcing them to clamp down on the wheel.
2. How Are Brake Hoses Different from Brake Lines?
Brake lines are the rigid metal tubing network that runs along the length of your vehicle. They channel brake fluid from the master cylinder to the brake hose.
Flexible brake hoses link your brake lines to the brake caliper or wheel cylinder – the middleman. Essentially, they are two distinct yet connected types of brake pipe that transfer brake fluid from the master cylinder to engage each brake pad or brake shoe.
Note: A brake line failure also produces similar symptoms to a bad brake hose.
3. What Are the Different Types of Brake Hoses?
You’ll generally come across two types of hoses:
- Rubber brake hoses: A rubber hose is the most common type as they provide good braking performance at a cheaper cost.
- Stainless steel brake hoses: This brake pipe has a sheath made of stainless steel, making it less prone to physical damage but at a higher cost.
4. What to Look for When Buying a New Brake Hose?
Here are some tips to keep in mind when purchasing a brake hose:
- Choose OEM brake hoses or ones from reputable brands: The brake hose is crucial to road safety. So, you need quality products that offer good chemical and thermal resistance.
- Get corrosion-resistant end fittings: Otherwise, the end fittings that link with the brake line can fall prey to corrosion and start to degrade, causing a brake fluid leak.
- Ensure the hose is dry-rot resistant: Dry rot is when the brake hose surface decays with exposure to environmental conditions, causing it to develop cracks or become flaky.
- Don’t overpay for a brake hose and its installation: The purchase and installation of a new brake hose will usually cost between $150 and $360.
Avoid a Brake Down with AutoNation Mobile Service
A properly functioning brake hose is essential for reliable braking. If it’s faulty, it’ll compromise your safety on the road through reduced braking power and uneven braking.
So why not play it safe and have a mechanic fix your brake hose in your driveway?
An expert from AutoNation Mobile Service can come to you to address your faulty brakes and ensure your vehicle is safe to drive.
We are available seven days a week and provide a 12-month | 12-000 mile warranty on all repairs.
Contact us for any braking system problems, brake service, or other auto repair and maintenance requirements.