Are Copper-Nickel Brake Lines Safe?
Rumors about the questionable impact of copper and brake lines continue. But today, there is no longer a reason for the negative connotation. We are no longer living in the mid-1900s.
So are copper-nickel brakes lines a good thing today?
Today's copper-nickel brake lines exceed the quality of stainless steel brake lines. This article will update you on the latest in copper-nickel safety and success.
What is Copper-Nickel Brake Lines?
In the olden days, copper brake lines were a hazard waiting to happen. In 1965, brake lines were the cause of 251,000 car accidents. The Society of Automotive Engineers determined the corrosive deterioration of the steel brake line was at fault.
The industry switched to brake lines made from 100% copper. These lines burst from the pressure causing even more accidents. People demonized the copper brake lines.
Fast forward into the new millennium. Then came the invention of a new alloy that was 90% copper and 10% nickel. This was superior to steel and could handle far more pressure than a 100% copper line.
The copper-nickel brake line was:
- Rust and corrosion-resistant
- Easy to form
- Stronger than 100% copper
- Longer lasting
- Easier to damage when not handled right
The cutting and bubble flaring of copper-nickel is easier than steel. Although you'll want to use a sharp tube cutter. This is one of the reasons copper-nickel is ideal as a brake line replacement.
Are Copper-Nickel Brake Lines Safe?
Sweden has conducted vehicle inspections since the mid-1960s. They tested how corrosion affected steel brake lines with various coatings. They also compared them to coatings on copper brake lines.
Regardless of the combination, the brake lines had 20% failure rates.
In the late 1970s, copper-nickel tests showed no corrosive impact for 12-years. This led to more studies to determine the ideal proportions of copper and nickel.
The first copper-nickel tubing included:
- 87.8% Copper
- 10% Nickel
- 1.4% Iron
- 0.8% Manganese
Each manufacturer has since altered the composition.
This initial copper-nickel brake line burst pressure was better than steel. Since then, copper-nickel materials are even stronger.
The refining process hasn't stopped. Science has reviewed everything that might impact the tubing. Studies included brake fluid viscosity, operating temperatures, tube length, and fluid flow rate.
All tests prove copper-nickel brake lines provide superior reliability to steel.
Are Copper-Nickel Brake Lines Legal?
Due to the terrible history, the use of copper brake lines became illegal. Since the release of the new copper-nickel solution, the product is legal to use.
The Copper Development Association is now opposed to copper brake pads. They are trying to reduce the amount of copper used in automobiles. This battle is not related to copper-nickel brake lines.
Brake Line Kits
To simplify the installation process, copper-nickel brake line kits are available. These self-contained kits are single-walled and come in 3/16” and 1/4" sizes. The materials are rust-proof and can handle both hot and cold temperatures.
Here are the burst pressures based on the line size:
- 3/16" is 11,909 PSI
- 1/4" is 8,932 PSI
- 5/16" is 7,146 PSI
- 3/8" is 5,955 PSI
The materials are 90% copper and 10% nickel.
Brake Line Replacement
Most vehicles come off the production floor with steel brake lines. The lines are difficult to access because they get placed on the frame early in the assembly process. The mass-production process means that the brake lines don't last long.
This is due in part to the cheapness of the parts. After all, the manufacturer wants to make a large profit. But this means owners living in the road salted north will need replacement parts sooner.
Attaching Brake Lines
Brake lines tend to snake around the entire car. The lines have to move between several systems. Here is one route the brake line travels:
- From the master cylinder down along the firewall
- Past the suspension
- To the anti-lock brake modulator
- Then to the proportioning valve
- To the rear wheels
The original brake lines are hard to get at. They are hard-baked into the frame. Getting to the lines means getting into the engine compartment.
Trying to replace the brake line with a steel part causes kinking problems due to the angle of the firewall. The steel brake line is not flexible enough to make the bend. This is where copper-nickel flexibility is the hero.
Zero Rust with Full Flexibility
Copper-nickel alloy does not rust. It is also flexible and bends by hand to work around obstacles, including firewalls.
Steel brake lines can bend in the right circumstances. But if the line needs reworking several times, the line becomes fractured. This makes it volatile to snap or kink.
Copper-nickel brake lines are always flexible. You can rework the lines many times without concern.
Fuel Tank Issues
One of the most difficult areas to work a replacement brake line is the fuel tank. The area has little room to maneuver and forces steel brake line users to remove the tank.
Copper-nickel brake lines are flexible enough to go over the top of the tank. You can push the line into position above the tank with little effort.
The one concern is making sure you tape the ends of the tubing off before pushing the line through. This will stop any dirt from getting into your brake lines.
Since the copper-nickel brake line never rusts or kinks, it's easy to apply a lifetime warranty. This alone is enough to consider the product. But its flexibility to get around crowded engine compartments is a bigger reason.
Copper-Nickel Brake Line Tubing Coil
The copper-nickel brake line tubing coil meets all SAE and ISO specifications. It is flexible, versatile, corrosion and rust-resistant, and comes with a lifetime warranty. The product is legal and exceeds stell specifications.
The product has longevity and can handle all high pressures used in braking. The metal composition protects the line from all weather conditions. It is also protected from winter salted streets.
Contact us to learn more about copper-nickel brake line tubing coil and brake line kits.