Stainless Steel Brake Lines
This page Copyright June 07, 2003 , gregp@greghome.com 
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Braking Mods

5/28/2000

 

GoodridgeLinesKit.jpg (154280 bytes) The following documents the installation of a set of Goodridge Stainless Steel brake lines on my 1999 Maxima SE.  The kit was purchased from Stillen for $173.00, and includes 4 lines, banjo bolts to replace the stock ones, and 8 copper crush ring gaskets.  Stillen also includes 3 canisters of Motul 600 synthetic racing brake fluid, which is more than enough to flush out the entire system.
Motul600Fluid.jpg (175951 bytes) It is also recommended when changing the brake lines to flush out and replace the old brake fluid.  Stillen sells Motul 600, which is highly recommended for its high boiling point and its exceptional ability to absorb moisture.  The three containers were included in the package from Stillen, for the price mentioned above.
SSLinesCloseup.jpg (166090 bytes) Here is a close-up of the lines.  The purpose of using stainless steel lines as opposed to rubber is that when brake pressure is applied with rubber lines, some of the braking force is absorbed by the hose itself as it expands slightly.  The older the rubber lines get, the more they will tend to expand, which is why the brakes in some older cars tend to feel a little mushy after a while.  Stainless steel lines do not expand when the brake is applied, therefore all of the braking force makes its way to the caliper.  The result is firmer braking action.
01-RemoveWheel.jpg (137982 bytes) Replacing the brake lines on the Maxima is not terribly difficult, but it is somewhat time consuming for the do-it-yourselfer considering each wheel must be removed and each of 4 brake circuits bled following replacement of the line.  The only tools necessary are ordinary 12 and 14mm socket wrenches, a 10mm flare nut wrench, a 10mm socket, a pair of pliers, and tools necessary for removing and replacing all four tires (jacks, torque wrench, chocks, etc.).

The steps outlined here are the same for each wheel.  The pictures shown are for the right-rear wheel but there is essentially no difference for any other wheel.  The first step is to raise the car on a jack and remove the wheel, exposing the brake line.

It is recommended to start with the right rear wheel, then proceed to the left front, left rear and then right front wheels, in that order.

02-LayPanUnder.jpg (132265 bytes) Next, place a large oil drain pan under the brake line to catch brake fluid which will leak out of the system when the line is removed.  Performing this step will make the job a lot cleaner and will help to avoid spilling brake fluid on the floor of your work area.
03-RemoveBanjo12mm.jpg (116470 bytes) Use a 12mm socket wrench and remove the banjo bolt holding the brake line to the caliper.
04-BanjoHang.jpg (119546 bytes) The bolt will come out, along with the 2 copper crush ring gaskets on either side of the line fitting.  Discard the copper gaskets and store the bolt someplace with the brake line when you remove it.  The bolt will not be reused, as the Goodridge kit comes with its own banjo bolts.  When the bolt slides out of the caliper, brake fluid will begin leaking out of the line.  Make sure the pan is there to catch it.  Not a lot of fluid will come out, and it will not be enough to drain the fluid reservoir by a long shot.  Even after the fluid stops, it will drip for a pretty long time.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET BRAKE FLUID ON ANY PAINTED SURFACES.  Brake fluid is highly corrosive and will be guaranteed to mar your car's paint.
05-RemoveRetainerClip.jpg (134955 bytes) We're working our way down the brake line now.  Next, remove the retainer clip holding the rubber line in place.  A pair of general purpose pliers will work fine for this.  Wiggle the clip from side to side and it will slide up and out easily.
06-RemoveLine10mmFlare.jpg (121586 bytes) Finally, use a 10mm flare nut wrench and detach the rubber brake hose from the steel line at the car.  It is not necessary to hold the line in place as you loosen the hose, because there is a fixed nut on the opposite side of the line which holds it into the retainer fixture.
07-LineOff.jpg (115884 bytes) Remove the second retainer clip and the line will be free.
08-SSLineatCaliper.jpg (115805 bytes) Reattach the stainless steel line at the caliper using the supplied bolt and copper crush ring gaskets, just as the rubber hose was attached.  The purpose of attaching it at the caliper first is so that brake fluid won't leak out the line as you work it onto the car.  Another mess-saving tip to remember!
09-ReattachRetainer.jpg (103284 bytes) Just as before, we are working our way down the line again.  Reattach the retainer clip to the center of the line.
10-SSLineReattached.jpg (101359 bytes) The last step in reattaching the line is to attach the remaining end to the car.  At this point, brake fluid will begin dripping out at the caliper end if the caliper bolt is not tight.  Tightening the caliper bolt is recommended before attaching the line to the car, to avoid this.  Check the line for kinks, twists, and to make sure that is is not rubbing against anything, then tighten all fittings.
11-BleedLine.jpg (133626 bytes) Now that the line is fully attached, it must be bled.  I have SpeedBleeders, which make this job a lot easier, especially if you have no one to help you.  The only line which needs to be bled at this time is the one that you worked on.  The other three lines cannot be affected by anything you do at the line you are working on.  This picture shows the bleed line attached to the bleeder screw.
12-AddMotul600.jpg (115531 bytes) I just kept pouring fluid in and pumping the brake pedal with the bleeder screw open (you can only do this if you have SpeedBleeders, otherwise follow the normal bleeding procedure).  Eventually enough fluid will pass through the system and the old fluid will be flushed out in the line you are working on.

Repeat these steps at each wheel, remembering to proceed in the recommended order (right rear, left front, left rear, right front).  Always fully bleed each line after completing the install, and be extremely careful not to get brake fluid on any painted surfaces, as it will corrode the paint almost immediately.

Make sure all fittings are tight and the brakes operate properly before placing the vehicle back in service.  With stock brake pads and rotors, upgrading to stainless steel lines should show a fair, but not dramatic increase in brake pedal firmness.