You probably already know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But even though a straight line may be the shortest path, it may not always the best way -- or even possible in some cases. That's especially true when it comes to brake lines.
Let's say there's a straight line distance of just 3 feet (0.9 meters) between two brake parts that you need to connect -- your car's master cylinder and one of the brake calipers. Three feet of brake line is all you need, right? Not so fast -- brake lines need just a little bit of slack so they're somewhat flexible. Think about it: If the brake line can't flex and move along with the car, it will put stress on the connection points and eventually break. Broken brake lines mean that you're not going to be able to stop the next time you apply pressure to the pedal. On the other hand, you don't want so much extra brake line that it's practically dragging the ground.
Bends in the brake lines are important for another reason, too. Logical routing of the brake lines can provide just the right amount of clearance around other engine compartment and chassis components, tucking them neatly out of the way where they won't become damaged.
Of course, it is possible to bend brake lines on your own. All you really need is the proper tube-bending tools; however, figuring out just where to bend the lines and how far to bend them can be rather tricky. It takes a lot of measuring (and patience) to make a brake line accurately connect to a specific brake part.
To save time, a lot of people rely on pre-bent brake lines. These brake lines come pre-measured and pre-bent in all the right places to specifically fit your vehicle. Pre-bent brake lines take a lot of time and hassle out of the installation process because they're already flared and bent for the best possible route through your car. In contrast to straight brake line material, which auto parts stores almost always have in stock, you'll need to special order pre-bent brake lines for your vehicle.
Up next, find out why some drivers might need the added strength of steel brake lines.