How to Fix a Brake Fluid Leak

January 27, 2012

When the brake pedal goes to the floor, it is time to find out how to fix a brake fluid leak. The first and most important thing to do is find where the fluid is leaking from. In order to find the brake problems, you will need to check the calipers, caliper pistons, wheel cylinders, brake hoses, metal brake lines and finally the master cylinder. It is not recommended to use any kind of stop leak formula, as there are no quick fixes for brake fluid leaks. Always know what you are getting into before removing any part of the braking system. One loose fitting can cause complete failure resulting in injury or worse. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, you need to find a reputable service center that will do a brake fluid flush for you.

Step1: Locating the Leak

Most leaks are visible and easily detected by simply knowing where to look. Lift the hood and visually inspect the gaskets, joints of metal to rubber and the threads on the metal brake tubing. If the fluid leak is not visible from the top of the engine compartment trace the lines from the master cylinder to each wheel. Work your way from the top to the rear looking for rusty areas, cracked rubber hoses, rust round the fittings or bends in the metal brake lines. Using a flashlight inspect under the vehicle looking for any wet areas, drips, spray patterns or puddles.

Step 2: Rebuild for the Master Cylinder, Caliper Piston and Wheel Cylinders

If the leak is located in the caliper piston or the master cylinder, there are rebuild kits available to make the repair more economical. It is easier to just buy a new caliper instead of rebuilding one. There are many rebuild kits with instructions that can get the brakes working in no time. Leaks in the rubber brake hoses suggest a total replacement of these lines.

Step 3: Leaks in the Metal Brake Lines

If the leak is from the metal brake lines the repair is now much more involved. You need to have the same size metal tubing and a pipe bender to make the bends in the lines. Replace the entire line once a leak is found, not just the leaky section to avoid another leak in a connection in the near future. After replacing the lines, torque the fittings to the manufacturers' specifications. Failure to do so could allow a fitting to come lose and cause problems such as a loss of brake pressure.

Never begin a brake repair without understanding exactly what is involved first. Just because the instructions state 'remove the wheel cylinder' doesn't mean that is a one step job. Brake cleaning is important around the fittings or joints before opening the brake fluid system to avoid dirt getting in. Dirty or old brake fluid can have extremely harmful effects on your braking system. Check the brake fluid color. If it is not clear and fresh looking, you need to change it immediately. Dirt can wear away at the inner workings of a system and cause very extensive and expensive damage.


Related Questions and Answers

What are some Reasons for Constant Brake Leak Problems?

Constant brake leak problems indicate a very serious chronic condition with your car's braking system that must be corrected. Constant brake leaks can be caused by brake line chafing that eats away at the brake line, as well as by leaking brake cylinders in cars equipped with front disc and rear drum brakes. You may also find that your front brake calipers are leaking as well, which can account for constant leak problems. Or you may find that the brake system fittings have corroded near the master cylinder. Indeed, the master cylinder may need replacement if it becomes brittle and leaks. Finally, look for loose brake system fittings as another cause.

Do You have to Fix Brade Pads when Repairing Brake Lines?

Yes, you may have to fix brake pads when repairing brake lines if there is a problem with them. When one repairs a car's brake line, it usually indicates there is a problem with the delivery system of brake fluid to your car's brakes. It may be a leaking caliper or loose brake fitting that is causing the fluid loss, or it may just be age. Whatever is causing the leak; if your car's brake pads become fouled with brake fluid, then you must replace them to assure that the repair job is done correctly. It may even be necessary to reface the brake system rotors if they also become fouled with brake fluid. However, if they are in good condition, they can probably be removed and cleaned up.

Is Repairing Brake Lines Easier with Metal Brake Lines, or Rubber?

Of course, repairing brake lines is far easier with rubber than metal. Provided that your car's braking system provides them adequate protection, such as armoring. As well as ensuring that the rubber doesn't become reactive with the brake fluid used in your car's brake system. A standard brake line kit will consist of prefit metal lines that can be quickly removed and replaced, as they are bent to fit your car's particular brake system as well as the underside of your car. With the types of metal used in today's brake lines, you will find them immune to the brake fluid inside, and they can be bent to your vehicle's specifications.

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