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Extended Brake Line Writeup


Now that I lifted my Bronco 4" I needed to swap out the stock brake lines with extended ones. I've had a week to let the many bumps on my head heal from the lift install and just about have all the grease and grime out of my fingernails. It's time to get dirty again.

Beforehand I bought 1 quart of brake fluid, new front brake pads and a vacuum pump to self bleed the brakes. 

First jack up the Bronco and put good jack stands under the frame. With the lift it is surprising how much flex you get. Even lifting the frame about 6" just in front of the skid plate where the frame is flat the tires will still touch when you let the jack down. After placing jack stands on both sides of the frame jack the front axle up just enough to remove the front tires. I had two jacks so I could remove both at the same time. 

The most important item to check - recheck - keep checking on is the fluid level in your brake fluid reservoir. If you overflow it you will make quite a mess and if it runs out, well that requires another write-up. Just keep track of the fluid level. It's easy to do when the brake fluid is this dirty. 

Tools used:
Safety Glasses
Ear Protection
3 ton Jack
3 ton Jack Stands
Large Hammer
Large Hex wrench (to remove the springs holding the brake pads)
Large Channel Locks (to squeeze in the caliper piston)
Metric & SAE socket set and wrenches
Needle Nose pliers Long straight and 90 degree bent
SAE Screwdriver
Brake Line Wrench (Should have used)
Vacuum Pump Self Bleeder

Stuff to have on hand:
Extended Brake Line Kit
At Least 1 Quart DOT 3 Brake Fluid
Rust Remover
Carb or Brake Cleaner

Since I had the tires off anyway I decided to change the front brake pads so I will include it in the write-up. First use a large pair of channel locks to slowly but firmly press the piston on the caliper in enough to take the pressure off the brake pads. 

Next you will have to bang out the two retaining pins holding the caliper in place. Use a pair of pliers to squeeze them and tap the end in with a hammer. "The Book" says to use a punch to drive the pins out but the pliers with the 90 degree bend made it easy to grab and pull them out. 

With the pins removed pull the caliper out and remove the brake pads. The inside pad stays by the rotor and the outside pad comes out with the caliper. Next use the channel locks to firmly squeeze the cylinder until it is completely seated in the base of the caliper. Remember to check the reservoir fluid level. 

Place in the new pads, slide the caliper in place and re-insert the pins. Use a hammer to bang them into place. Do the same to the other side. Congratulations, you now know how to change your own brakes. 

Now on to the brake line replacement. The drivers side brake line is slightly different than the passenger side. It has one additional line connected at the top. Otherwise they are the same. Unless you want brake fluid all over the place  ( you will anyway) get something together to plug up the brake lines while you have them disconnected. I used the tips of a sharpened pencil. I kept sharpening it and cutting off the tip until I had a half dozen. 

Now remove the top 11mm brake line(s) from the line you are going to replace. It is recommended that you use a brake line wrench since they are soft metal and can strip very easily. I didn't and did strip one on the back - more later. Definitely spray some rust remover beforehand. Carefully plug the lines to hold the flow of brake fluid from ruining your favorite clothes. 

Now the fun begins. There is an "easy clip" that is anything but easy to remove. It holds the brake line you are replacing in place. You can't hardly get to it to see how to remove it but you need to pull one end over the end of the brake line and slide it strait out. The pictures included should help a lot since the camera will go where the body wont. Plus having it out helps. It helps to remove the retaining clip on the outside to relieve pressure on the "easy clip" but leave it installed on the new brake line when replacing the "easy clip". I learned this with trial and error so you don't have to. 

Now remove the lower end of the brake line with a 14mm wrench. This is easy compared to the previous part. Place the bottom of the new brake line making sure that the crush rings are removed and replaced (copper washers) tighten it down. Next reconnect the 11mm brake line(s) on top. 

Wasn't that fun? it's time for a break, and oh yeah, have you been watching the break reservoir to make sure it didn't run dry? I know you have. 

OK now on the the back line. Since you worked so hard Ford thought you might need a break. First there is only one line to replace and second the "easy clip" is really an easy clip. The replacement is pretty much the same as the front but slightly different. The top is the familiar 11mm with the easy clip that pulls straight out. It is easiest to do this from the front of the axle. Plug it and move behind the axle to remove the axle breather. I'm sorry I don't know the nut size since previous owner stripped and broke the bolt then siliconed it back on. Use a large pair of vice grips to hold the center section at the end of brake line steady and remove the 11mm brake lines at either end. This is where I stripped one of the nuts and had to get another pair of channel locks to remove and reinstall it. Re-install the top brake line and call this part done. 

Now there is a lot of air in your brake lines and you can't drive to Jiffy-Lube to have them bled. You can have a friend play the old game of pump - pump - hold for hours while you try to get the air out or do it the new way. Buy a $25 vacuum pump for bleeding brakes. If you are unfamiliar with bleeding brakes, start from the rear passenger side, rear drivers side, front passenger side and last front drivers side. This is the most important time to keep track of your brake fluid reservoir level. While you might not pull out that much fluid, you are pulling out a lot of air that is being replaced by fluid. I also wasn't happy with the dirtiness of the current brake fluid and kept pumping until the new clear stuff was showing. I used the full quart and had a second standing buy but didn't need it. The back bleeder valves are 3/8" and the front ones are 11mm. When you feel you have all the air out pump the brake petal and if it feel good and stiff you should be done. drive it a few feet and check the brakes before going full speed. 


Since the write-up I have been asked how well the vacuum pump worked and where did I buy it. I purchased it from Autozone for $25. I have also seen a similar kit at Harbor Freight Tools for $29. They sell it online. The one I purchased has a few more connections to do other things vacuum pumps do but this is what I purchased it for. 

In the past I have bled the brakes on many cars and it can be a chore making sure you and a second person coordinate your moves and it takes a while to get it just right. I was a little skeptical about using this contraption but I can say it worked out perfectly. I was able to bleed the brakes solo and it only took about 1/2 an hour to not only bleed them but completely flush out the old brake fluid.