How Brake Lines Work

Performance Brake Lines

It takes high-performance brakes to stop a high-performance car -- and don't forget to upgrade the brake lines, too.
It takes high-performance brakes to stop a high-performance car -- and don't forget to upgrade the brake lines, too.
©­­iStockphoto/Ken Babione

If you're increasing your car's engine performance, you'd better look at upgrading the braking performance, too. After all, more engine power equals a need for more stopping power. While high-performance brake parts like multi-piston calipers and ceramic brake pads are popular choices, upgrading your brake lines can improve performance too.

As we mentioned earlier in this article, braided steel lines are a good choice for performance brake lines. They keep braking performance strong because they don't swell like rubber lines can. A swollen line decreases the bake fluid pressure, which will compromise the vehicle's overall braking power. A result of this is diminished brake pedal feel: It will be difficult for the driver to modulate the brakes properly because the pedal will feel squishy or sloppy. Braided steel brake lines also protect against nicks and tears from road debris while maintaining flexibility and a firm grip on the brake part it connects to.

Performance brake lines can also come in different materials, like braided carbon fiber (which is very expensive), Kevlar or even Teflon. While these materials add strength, durability and performance, they also add a significant price increase.

Before you decide to upgrade your brake lines, it may be wise to take a good look at the type of driving you typically do. If you routinely take your car to the racetrack or your truck on off-road adventures an upgrade might be worth it. But if you simply use your vehicle to commute to and from work each day, it's probably better to stick with less expensive lines that are easier to maintain.

Whatever you do, don't stop now. The next page is loaded with lots more information about braking, brake components and other related topics -- just follow the links.


Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Maganate, Steve. "Bending Stainless Steel Tubing -- Bend Your Own Brake Lines." Car Craft Magazine. (Jan. 13, 2009)
  • Persson, Drew. "The Double-Flared Brake Line." (Jan. 13, 2009)
  • Spanky. "Hard Brake Lines At Home." (Jan. 13, 2009)­
  • Stu Olsen's Jeep Site. "Brake Line Flaring." (Jan. 13, 2009)
  • Tobolt, William, et al. The Goodheart-Wilcox Automotive Encyclopedia. The Goodheart-Wilcox Publishing Company. 2006.