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Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
1997 - 2000 S70, S70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70, V70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70-XC
1997 - 2004 C70

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jreed
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Volvo Repair Database Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by jreed » Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:38 am

Front Flex Brake Line Replacement – Volvo 850

Introduction:
This DIY guide shows how I replaced the front flexible brake lines on a 1997 Volvo 855 GLT at 166k miles. I benefited greatly from the write up by Vjaneczko who included very helpful information on how to repair stuck and stripped flare fittings – check out his write up here:
http://www.matthewsvolvosite.com/forums ... le=desktop

I put the whole DIY in a PDF:
Front Brake Line Replacement Volvo 850 Jason Reed.pdf
How I knew I needed to do this job:
The brake lines had visible cracks in the rubber near the metal fittings.
Brake Line 01.jpg
Later after removal of the lines, when I did a little inspection of the parts, I found signs of brake fluid seeping through one of the bulged areas.
Brake Line 25.jpg

I never observed any significant leakage from the lines, but they are done.

Procedure Overview:
A) Clean dirt from fittings
B) Remove old brake line
C) Install new brake line
D) Do other side of the car
E) Bleed brakes


Time: about 2 hours including jacking up the car, stopping to take photos, and cleaning up and putting away the tools afterwards.

Tools:
11mm and 14mm flare wrenches – these are indispensable for loosening the fittings on the brake lines without rounding off the corners.
Brass brush to loosen up dirt on the fittings
Torque wrench for wheel lug nuts
Pressure Bleeder (or vacuum bleeder, or a second person to hold down the brake pedal while you open the bleed screw)

Materials:
Brake fluid (I used about ½ liter of ATE Typ 200 Amber DOT4+)
Brake cleaning spray to remove dirt, grease and oil from fittings and in case any grease or fluid gets on the brake rotors.
P’Blaster or other penetrating fluid to help break loose the flare nut fittings.
Pan to catch and hold brake fluid

Parts:
I got the lines from Darryl Waltrip Volvo, part 3546813. ATE made the lines, like the rest of the brake system components on this car.
Brake Line 09.jpg
Repair Procedure—
Slightly loosen front wheel lug nuts. Chock rear wheels. Jack up front of car. Place jack stands under car. Remove front wheels.

Once you get the wheels off, you can get a good look at your brake lines. To improve access to the flare fitting I pulled the rubber grommet holding the ABS sensor line out of its bracket and moved the line aside.
Brake Line 05.jpg
I sprayed brake cleaner on the fittings at the hard line end and at the caliper. Put a catch pan under the fitting to hold the cleaner, P’Blaster and brake fluid that will start dripping out once you loosen the fittings.
Then I loosened up the dirt with a brass brush.
After reading Vjaneczko’s tale of woe surrounding stripped flare nut fittings, I applied P’Blaster and let it soak in overnight. {Pictures of these parts of the job are included in the PDF}

When I tried loosening the fittings the next day I was relieved to find that they were not stuck. Just a little force was needed and they loosened smoothly. Use two flare nut wrenches: a 14mm to counterhold the flex line and a 11mm to hold the flare nut on the hard line.
Brake Line 02.jpg
If you put the wrenches on at the right rotation, you can squeeze them together with one hand and avoid twisting the hard line.

Over at the caliper end, use a 14mm flare wrench to loosen the fitting. This one also came out smoothly.
Brake Line 08.jpg
Once you get the flare nut loose, you don’t need to counterhold any more. You may be able to use a regular open end 11mm wrench at this point without risk of damaging the flare fitting. I opted to keep on using the flare wrench until I could turn the nut with my fingers.
Brake fluid will start to drip out of the connection but I found that it was a slow steady drip. If your master cylinder is full when you start, you will have a long time before you will deplete the reservoir from the drip.
Brake Line 13.jpg
Once you fully loosen the nut, you can separate the flex line from the hard line. Brake fluid will continue to drip out of the open hard line. Take your time and don’t worry—it’s a slow drip.
Brake Line 19.jpg
Move the old flex line forwards and raise it up and unscrew it from the caliper. If you already loosened it up, you can probably unscrew it by hand. Otherwise, use a 14mm flare or open end wrench.
Brake Line 15.jpg
At this point I opted to ‘clean out’ the new brake line by pouring a small amount (20-50mL) of fresh brake fluid through the line. I don’t think this is necessary with brand new lines straight out of the bag from the dealer. You probably don’t need to do it but it can’t hurt.

Install the new brake line on the caliper end first. You might be tempted to install the line on the hard line end first because that is the end that is dripping, but don’t do it. Install the line on the caliper end and tighten it up to final torque so that when you connect to the hard line you won’t have to twist the line.
Brake Line 16.jpg
VADIS specifies 18 N⋅m / 13 ft-lbs as the torque for the brakes lines. I don’t have a torque wrench that would fit these lines, so I just tightened them up “snug plus a little more to be sure” but not too tight.
Be careful to keep the open end of the line away from the wheel well wall so that dirt doesn’t get in.


Then bend the new line over along the same route as the old line took (behind the strut tower) and fit the line into the hexagonal cutout in the bracket. Insert the hard line into the end of the flex line. Slide the clip and flare fitting up into the flex line.
Brake Line 20.jpg
Keep the line straight and tighten it by hand. Go easy: to get the threads to engage you have to apply a little pressure while keeping the line aligned with the fitting:
Brake Line 21.jpg
Once the flare nut fully engages the threads of the flex line, use the two flare wrenches again to tighten it up. When you get it tight, the dripping of the brake fluid should stop.
Brake Line 17.jpg
Clean up the excess brake fluid now. This will make it easier to detect a fluid leak when you test the brakes later.
Be sure to put the ABS grommet back into its bracket if you moved it out of the way during this job. When you finish, double check the markings along the flex line. There should not be any twist in the line.
Brake Line 18 (finished).jpg
You’re done here. After you do the first side, it will be easier to do the second side.

Bleeding the air out of the hydraulic lines:
There are several ways of bleeding brakes, including vacuum bleeding and ‘two-person’ (one to hold the brake pedal down while the other opens the bleed screw). I like using a pressure bleeder, which seems easiest to me. There are commercial versions available (such as the one by Motive). I built a simple one for under $20 with a garden spray bottle and an extra ATE brake fluid reservoir cap.
Brake Line 22.jpg
Make sure the brake fluid reservoir at the master cylinder is full of brake fluid (if you want to flush out your old brake fluid, this is an ideal time to remove the old fluid from the reservoir and refill it with fresh new fluid before bleeding the lines). Connect and pump the pressure bleeder up to about 5psi. Open the bleed screw about ¼ to ½ turn using a 11mm flare wrench.
Brake Line 23.jpg
Some people recommend putting a short length of tubing on the end of the bleed screw. This may be required if you’re doing the “two-person” style of bleeding and is helpful here but not necessary. Just keep your face away from the screw because brake fluid will come shooting out when you loosen it.
Allow the air to bubble out. When bubble-free clean fluid is trickling out, you’re good. I made a short video clip of bleeding the air out of one of the calipers.



After I got the car back together with the wheels on and lug nuts torqued to 81 ft-lbs, I started the car up and then just held my foot on the brakes to see if the pedal was firm or if it would sink to the floor, indicating a big leak.
I also checked the fluid reservoir to see if the fluid level was dropping and I inspected the fittings to see if there was any sign of leaking brake fluid.

It all seemed OK so I gave it a short test drive. The brakes worked fine. The brake pedal seems a bit firmer than it was before, but this is subjective.

Inspection of the old lines:

For reference, I cut a cross section through the original line in an area that did not appear damaged. You can see the black inner plastic tube core that contains the brake fluid, the brown woven wrapper in the center layer and the black rubber exterior sheath.
Brake Line 26.jpg


Then I cut a cross section through the bulged part of the line near the fitting. Here you can see the woven wrapper is soaked with brake fluid and the outer rubber is bulging outwards.
Brake Line 27.jpg
I sliced along the line through the bulged section and could see where the rubber outer casing had separated from the woven middle sheath.
Brake Line 28.jpg
I couldn’t find the source of the leak in the inner core but there must have been a split or a hole that allowed brake fluid to escape.

I’m glad to have new brake lines on the car!
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1997 855 GLT (Light Pressure Turbo) still going strong. Previous: 1986 240 GL rusted out in '06, 1985 Saab 900T rusted out in '95, 1975 Saab 99 rusted out in '95, 1973 Saab 99 rusted out in '94

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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by JDS60R » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:53 am

Wow- Great pictures !!!
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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by deepsouth » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:52 pm

Great write-up. I just did this on my 1998 S70 and even using the 11mm and 14mm flare wrenches managed to strip the metal brake line fitting. Original hoses and car is originally from up north and has a lost of rust. Lines were frozen solid. Ended up using vice grips and a 14mm flare wrench. Worked well but a serious PITA.
Eric
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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by jreed » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:30 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys! I appreciate it.
I too was expecting my lines to be frozen solid. They are original to the car (I'm pretty sure) and the car was up north for its first ten years. I was relieved when they all loosened up smoothly. Maybe I just got lucky. I did soak them all overnight with penetrating oil.
1997 855 GLT (Light Pressure Turbo) still going strong. Previous: 1986 240 GL rusted out in '06, 1985 Saab 900T rusted out in '95, 1975 Saab 99 rusted out in '95, 1973 Saab 99 rusted out in '94

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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by cn90 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 5:14 am

Nice photos!

As a rule, any cars over 120K or 12 years or so, the brake hoses usually develop a crack near the caliper, where there is most flexing/bending. Best is to replace these hoses at the first sign of rubber crack.
I often rebuild the caliper using new seals at that age.

For reference purpose, I will link to another DIY (brake hydraulic overhaul):

DIY: 98 V70 Brake Hydraulic Overhaul (Hoses, Seals, Parking)...
http://www.matthewsvolvosite.com/forums ... hp?t=37721
2004 V70 2.5T 100K+
2005 XC90 2.5T 110K+

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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by matthew1 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:07 pm

This now in the Volvo Repair Database. Thanks Jason!

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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by xHeart » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:47 pm

jreed wrote:Thanks for the feedback guys! I appreciate it.
I too was expecting my lines to be frozen solid. They are original to the car (I'm pretty sure) and the car was up north for its first ten years. I was relieved when they all loosened up smoothly. Maybe I just got lucky. I did soak them all overnight with penetrating oil.
A benchmark write-up Jason.
You and cn90 have raise the MVS grades in past 12 months.
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Past: German Shepherd | 1989 Volvo 740 GL | 1979 Volvo 240

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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by loub » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:42 pm

Great write-up Jason.I live in a Chicago suburb and they use tons of salt, like deepsouth I use vice grips but I cut the old rubber line and use a 14 mm box wrench on the fitting.

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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by MrPc » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:28 pm

I just did this to my car, and did the rear hoses as well.

Before I began, I put a layer of saran wrap over the mouth of the fluid reservoir and then re-capped it with the "modified-extra-ATE-reservoir-cap". I did this to eliminate an entry point for air, and hopefully reduce the amount of fluid loss while the system was open. I'm not sure if it helped or not, but one way or the other hardly any brake fluid leaked out when I removed the hoses.

Of course, I'm not sure why I bothered, because when I was done, I completely replaced the old brake fluid while bleeding the system....
=====================
Red Red '96 855R, 169k

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Re: Volvo 850 DIY: Front Flexible Brake Line Replacement

Post by matthew1 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:09 pm

MrPc wrote:Before I began, I put a layer of saran wrap over the mouth of the fluid reservoir and then re-capped it with the "modified-extra-ATE-reservoir-cap". I did this to eliminate an entry point for air, and hopefully reduce the amount of fluid loss while the system was open.
Like a true DIY'er. :D
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1997 850 T5, MSD ignition coil, Hallman manual boost controller, injectors, R bumper, OMP strut brace [gone]
2004 V70 R [gone]

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