Do brake pipes 'just' burst ?

Valvebloke

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Mrs VB got in from work this evening (18 mile drive home, much of it on a fast, busy dual carriageway) and said "There's a problem with the car. The handbrake warning light was flickering on and off and now it's on permanently.". :shock: :shock: :shock: . I went outside, started it up, pushed hard on the brake and it went slowly down and then suddenly to the floor. When I got out there was the sound of dripping and a growing puddle of brake fluid under the car. I got underneath and the pipe seems to have ruptured. I say seems because it's hard to see - it's dripping from above the rear subframe and there may be a joint up there, in which case it may not be the pipe itself I suppose. But a quick Google suggests it's likely to be the pipe. I think the hidden location also means it's unlikely to have been mechanically damaged. It seems it must have failed due to corrosion (51-plate 1.8 Mk III Mondeo, 165k miles).

So:

Should I be p!$$ed off that I've had no warnings about this on the MOT or service reports (both done 5 months ago) ? Is it going to cost more than the car is worth to have it fixed ? Should I have them both done (if there are two ?) - I'm definitely thinking YES to this one ?

Any advice much appreciated, ta.

VB

 

JBCobra

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Sorry VB

Unfortunately the lines corrode over time. Especially in areas where the roads get salted in the winter etc..

They need to inspected regularly.

Should not be expensive at all though:^

 

myles

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No, unless they are braided they can bulge and split in the end. Brake hoses and a fluid change shouldn't be too pricey, you get the parts and take it to a trusted backstreet garage. its not a hard job at all.

 

wolf larson

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I don't know much about mondeo's but my BMW is a '95 with 170k on the clock. It's failed twice on corrosion of the rear copper brake pipes as they're exposed to spray from the back wheel, which I've had to rub down and paint, but they've never failed. I also own a '73 MG with original copper pipes (and I've had minis and various other pre 70's cars). My MG is still on it's original brake pipes, which are exposed and I've never known one rot through.

Normally corrosion would lead to a small leak, which would drop the level in the master cylinder and trigger the warning light. For it to lose so much at once sounds like it's snapped or a union has come away. Some older older cars have a single pipe which runs down the floor pan, which splits off to both rear wheel (master cylinders/calipers). This T valve also controls pressure, so the front and back wheels brake evenly. But modern cars may have one for each with servo-aided pressure.

Do you know if the rear has any flexible hoses? As these are far more common to perish and split, although on mine the hard pipes go directly into the rear calipers.

 

WullieD20

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When you refer to the 'pipe', do you mean a solid metal pipe, or possibly a flexible hose??

Both comments above are correct. Pipes will eventually corrode and rupture, requiring replacement to convenient unions in each direction. Hoses are somewhat simpler (and cheaper) to renew, but by their nature they are usually easier to gain access to. Pipes can disappear over fuel tanks and 'invisible to the eye' areas that make life for the MOT inspector pretty difficult. I remember a specific model of French manufacture some years back that required new brake pipes at its first MOT (3 years old FFS!!). £300 seemed a bit unreasonable at three years old, but that was quite a few years back.

Try a reliable independent who will inspect closely and advise of the actual requirement to get you back on the road. Brake 'pipes' can be made to measure with copper or copper nickel pipe, which will not corrode in the future. If major work is needed to get to the failed pipe, it'll be the labour charge that'll boosts the bill, more than the cost of the pipe(s).

Hope that helps.

 

meninblack

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Modern cars have dual-circuit brakes, which are SUPPOSED to protect you from total failure of the braking system due to failure of a single pipe or joint!

 

Vinyl Art

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Surprised at a total loss, dual circuit design should cope with a major hydraulic loss and still apply brakes to two wheels. Glad all was ok though, as above my money would be on corroded lines. These can suffer from wall thinning and pin hole leaks and then rupture with little warning.

Bugger your impeccable timing MIB and my tardy posting:D

 

moggy58

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Replacing brake pipes should not be too expensive for parts, if it’s just the pipes that have gone.

The big expense can be in fitting pipes that are difficult to get too. A small local friendly, low charge per hour, garage would be the best bet.

If you try it yourself and end up stripping a thread (very easy with old rusty pipes) It can be a pain in the arse if you don’t have the right tools to sort it.

MOT’s are not a guarantee that your brakes won’t fail within a year,

They will only reveal a leaking pipe or cylinder if they can be seen at the time of the MOT.

The rolling road brake testing will only show that your brakes are stopping the car within a given tolerance,

this could show your brakes are working ok, even when the pads are down too the metal.

I'm just pleased Mrs VB arrived home safely and didn’t become another statistic.

 

Valvebloke

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Thanks for the advice folks, it's much appreciated. Reading around this, it seems that the Mondeo pipes do tend to fail exactly where mine have gone i.e. above the rear subframe. The originals (which ours are) are steel and unjointed so unless you're really trying to save every last penny you have to replace the whole thing. To be fair the leak seems to have been relatively small while Mrs VB was driving - sufficient to drop the fluid level in the reservoir enough to trigger the warning light but not so bad that the brakes failed altogether. The more dramatic leak developed on our drive when I went out to check things out. Even now I don't know if there's zero braking though. Maybe the dual circuit is still giving me some ? But as far as I can see a lot of fluid has leaked out and there's none at all now visible in the reservoir. So it's hard to see how any section of the hydraulics can be unaffected.

As far as fixing it is concerned the main grumble that internet commentators have is that the pipes travel over the fuel tank and this has to be dropped out of the car if they are to be replaced along their original course. It's suggested quite widely that the replacements can be re-routed around the tank rather than over it and that the only problem with this is finding appropriate and acceptable securing points for them. Maybe I'll need to get the work done by the same people as will next MOT it !

VB

 

moggy58

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Because the brake cylinder was completely empty, air can get into the pipes.

If you do get the pipes repaired, a simple check, to make sure the mechanic has completely removed any air

that may have got into the system…when you push the brake peddle hard it should feel solid and stop when fully applied.

If you keep your foot hard down on the peddle and it slowly sinks further, then there is still air in the system.

Hope the repair isn’t too expensive.

 

JPG

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If the pipe are replaced with fabricated ones (rather than bought-in Ford parts) specify Cupro-Nickel (AKA Cunifer or Kunifer). Steel corrodes, as you've found out, and copper can work harden, but cupro-nickel is resistant to both. It's been OE fit on volvos for going on 40 years, and the brake pipe corrosion rate on those is vanishingly low.

Personally, I'd replace all the flexible brake hoses at the same time; they shouldn't be expensive, and they can perish or - in some cases - the end fittings can corrode.

 

karlinamillion

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....my BMW is a '95 with 170k on the clock. It's failed twice on corrosion of the rear copper brake pipes as they're exposed to spray from the back wheel, which I've had to rub down and paint, but they've never failed... Normally corrosion would lead to a small leak, which would drop the level in the master cylinder and trigger the warning light. For it to lose so much at once sounds like it's snapped or a union has come away...
Errr, rub down & paint a brake pipe? That corrosion, or it's effects, are still there. It's a brake pipe, not a bit of rust on the wheel arch. Theres only one condition a brake pipe should be in, & thats perfect.

Maybe corrosion might cause a 'small leak', but it would turn into a major rupture as soon as you braked even slightly hard, and that is very bad news, as you only brake hard when you really need it.

remember, the pressure in a brake system can be 1000's of PSI

- - - Updated - - -

If the pipe are replaced with fabricated ones (rather than bought-in Ford parts) specify Cupro-Nickel (AKA Cunifer or Kunifer). Steel corrodes, as you've found out, and copper can work harden, but cupro-nickel is resistant to both. It's been OE fit on volvos for going on 40 years, and the brake pipe corrosion rate on those is vanishingly low.Personally, I'd replace all the flexible brake hoses at the same time; they shouldn't be expensive, and they can perish or - in some cases - the end fittings can corrode.
I concore.

 

listenup

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Be very, very happy - that this occurred sitting on the drive and not braking on the motorway.

If the pedal goes to the floor, then there are now no brakes even if dual circuit should give some it appears there are none.

If the reservoir has emptied, its likely that air has been pumped into the system, and air can easily be compressed when you exert pressure by pressing the brake pedal.

You probably need to trailer the car to the garage.

Sell the hifi and invest in good brakes!

When I had a little rally car, I got to the end of a stage and pressed the pedal to stop at the marshals post - and it went to the floor. More frightening than having a crash, my extremely loud air horns scattered marshalls spectators and competitors and I slalomed round cars people and trees, eventually stopping 200 metres from the designated place.

Never skimp on brakes. Always go to experts. It's not an area to tinker around with.

 

Valvebloke

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Well I nursed the car on the handbrake only (at a VERY quiet time of day) 500 metres or so to the very nearest garage and they've done the business. The replacement sections are in kunifer. They did both sides and showed me the wreckage. The unburst one was rusted so thin at one point that he could push it flat with his finger. £240 all in which, given the circuitous path the pipes have to take, and also given the very short notice, was good I thought. It might have been a bit more but fortunately there were no issues with the bleed nipples (inclined to snap off, leaving the stump in the slave cylinder, if they haven't been turned for a while) or with the master cylinder (inclined to leak past the piston seal if the latter has been pushed out of the shiny part of the bore and into the normally-unused-hence-a-bit-rough part). Phew. I've done 320 miles up a lot of motorways today and having let things cool I can now see that the fluid level in the reservoir is exactly where it was when I set out this morning. Phew encore. Looks like the fates smiled on us this time.

VB

 

Papa Lazarou

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I've driven a car around for months using only the handbrake and engine braking. Does wonders for your anticipation.
Then you were a serious danger to other road users and pedestrians, you should be ashamed of yourself!

I can't believe you think this was clever. Possibly the most idiotic and pathetic post I've ever read on the 'Wam.

 
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take5

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I've driven a car around for months using only the handbrake and engine braking. Does wonders for your anticipation.
Julian, if thats not a joke.......................you have got to be joking.

What if your "handbrake and engine braking" technique doesnt quite make it some day when a kid runs out in front of you. Anticipation might not be sufficient.

Please tell me you are joking !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edit, beaten to it by Phil

 

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