"Braided Stainless" Brake Line Myth - Busted!

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  1. #1
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    Exclamation "Braided Stainless" Brake Line Myth - Busted!

    If you spend any time searching on brake lines, you'll read lots of opinions about how our cars come stock with braided metal lines and you're an idiot for wasting your $$ on aftermarket braided lines (or something akin to that...) but you won't find any facts to back up those opinions.

    I recently did the A8/TT upgrade (with Tyrol Sport bushings) and replaced my lines with new braided lines from ECS. I came across one of the old lines today and decided to do my own version of Mythbusters...

    Here's the line I used already cut in half:



    Here's the closeup of the cross-section piece I cut out of the center:



    Doesn't look much like metal, doesn't it?

    After peeling away the outer rubber layer, we have the first layer of cloth:



    And with a little careful slicing and separating, here's the second layer of cloth:



    A little more cutting and we now expose the inner rubber brake hose:



    And finally, just for effect, here's the cross section of all 3 pieces:



    **NOTES**

    The brake line is off of my 2001 B5 GLX V6/5M and has ~185,000 on it.

    I used a razor blade (box cutter type) and a small common screwdriver to do all cuts and separations. If it was any sort of braided metal, I'd have never been able to slice it like that!

    Hopefully this helps someone to make an informed decision about replacing their brake lines in the future!

    - Jon

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  3. #2
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    10 plus years and 185k = awesome

  4. #3
    4th Gear hu vw's Avatar
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    Good work, now are you going to start wearing a beret?

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  6. #4
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    Depending on the fibers used, it could even be stronger than steel. (Although I doubt it)

    Very cool though. THANKS!
    Original Club B5 member: 16 Golf R. Missing my 99 B5 & 08 R32

  7. #5
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    Nice picks Jon but why spend money on braided metal brake lines for a DD?

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Parish View Post
    Nice picks Jon but why spend money on braided metal brake lines for a DD?
    For the same reason I have JHM shifter linkage parts and 034 snub, motor mounts, tranny mounts and front upper strut upper bearings Tom. Because I can...

  9. #7
    6th Gear pablitormDub's Avatar
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    ECS here I come The ECS ones have red rubber as the top layer?

  10. #8
    Grinding Gears...gone fishing! ScottPassat2.8's Avatar
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    I have SS lines but never installed them because you cannot see through the braid if the rubber line ever has a problem and to me that is a problem.
    I am not saying for you to do this just my 2¢.




  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullit62 View Post
    For the same reason I have JHM shifter linkage parts and 034 snub, motor mounts, tranny mounts and front upper strut upper bearings Tom. Because I can...
    LOL! Don't we all.

  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hu vw View Post
    Good work, now are you going to start wearing a beret?
    Nope, doesn't look good on me...

    Quote Originally Posted by pablitormDub View Post
    ECS here I come The ECS ones have red rubber as the top layer?
    Yup...

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottPassat2.8 View Post
    I have SS lines but never installed them because you cannot see through the braid if the rubber line ever has a problem and to me that is a problem.
    I am not saying for you to do this just my 2¢.
    I don't understand this Scott. You can't see through the solid rubber/cloth lines and that's ok but not being able to see through the steel braid is a problem?

  13. #11
    Grinding Gears...gone fishing! ScottPassat2.8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullit62 View Post
    I don't understand this Scott. You can't see through the solid rubber/cloth lines and that's ok but not being able to see through the steel braid is a problem?
    if a rubber line on our car gets a crack, like the do over time, I can see it.
    On a braided SS line it is hidden behind the SS braid and dangerous for me with the SC on the car and the BBK.




  14. #12
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    not completely busted, i replaced lines on a 99 1.8t AEB and they were steel lined, i know this cause i cut the shyt out of my hand when i grabbed the line at the split in the rubber, cloth would not cut my hand like it was.

  15. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by vwb5t View Post
    not completely busted, i replaced lines on a 99 1.8t AEB and they were steel lined, i know this cause i cut the shyt out of my hand when i grabbed the line at the split in the rubber, cloth would not cut my hand like it was.
    And that's why I qualified the year and model car mine came from Matt...

  16. #14
    I'm just itching to be Banned NEWMAN'SOWN's Avatar
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    In other words, YMMV?



  17. #15
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    They 1998 1.8T I parted had steel, the 1998 V6 I did was cloth lines

  18. #16
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    Ok so far it's steel for '98, and cloth for '01....

    ...I don't know what I've got but it's not looking good for my '02.

  19. #17
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    I'm shocked that such unsubstantiated claims would be posted to PW....that never happens.

  20. #18
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    really? wheres my turbonator i forgot to reinstall it on my new passat

    but on a serious note, make sure you grease those tyrol sport bushings regularly so they dont lock up, i did it each oil change it takes 2 min to do them

  21. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urlik View Post
    Depending on the fibers used, it could even be stronger than steel. (Although I doubt it)

    Very cool though. THANKS!
    as long as it wasn't the same material on their vacumn tube

  22. #20
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    I'm running aftermarket SS brake lines and they do improve pedal feel. There are three potential problems with these, however. The first, and much discussed, some early designs failed the DOT whip test. Most manufacturers now use some kind of additional support extending slightly onto the flex part. This re-enforces the end sections. Second, also much discussed, is that dirt can embed itself between the SS sheath and the teflon inner tube, causing abrasion. Most now include an additional plastic sheath over the SS sheath to eliminate this.

    Third, and not really discussed, is the clocking (positioning) of the SS brake line when installing, especially on the fronts. Due to a combination of steering lock and suspension travel, the front calipers move through all 3 axis of movement. If one end is rigidly attached to the chassis and the other end moves in three dimensions, you must end up with some twisting of the brake line. By proper clocking, you can minimize when this occurs (extreme steering lock) but you cannot eliminate it. With OE rubber/fiber brake lines, the flexible portion of the line will support a large amount of twisting. However, with SS lines, the metal sheath essentially is rigid in torsion and will transmit this twist directly to the end fittings. Ultimately, the teflon inner tube will slip (rotate) slightly relative to the end fitting. You wont notice this unless you mark the relationship of sheath/tube/swage to end fitting, and then exercise the caliper though full lock and suspension travel. Some manufacturers offer a "swivel" joint at one fitting, which is essentially 1 or 2 extra o-rings inside the swage/fitting assembly. Ultimately, you are depending on a minimal amount of twisting action, and the fact that teflon tube provides just as good seal in rotation as an o-ring would.

    Bottom line, I've searched on this and concluded that improper clocking can result in constant twisting of the brake line, ie, just due to road bumps; and this can prematurely wear the teflon tube at the swage/fitting, creating leaks.

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