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STAINLESS STEEL BRAIDED BRAKE LINES:
by Dan Roth

Many Volvo enthusiasts have touted the benefits of stainless steel brake lines. These lines are said to improve pedal feel and resist stones and other sharp objects as well as looking really nice. One would never think that people would look at brake hoses and get excited, but then again, people aren't supposed to modify Volvos, either.

Stainless brake hoses are available from iPd and probably other sources. If you want to source your own, two reputable brands are Aeroquip and Russel. They aren't cheap, but if they are of high quality manufacture, they could well outlast your car. If you can afford them on your daily driver, they're probably the last set of hoses you'll ever buy.

A couple of precautions need to be taken when using these brake hoses. First; make sure the hoses aren't rubbing anything. If they are in contact with a nearby structure, the stainless braiding could rub through, exposing the teflon inner hose. If you have the lines installed on your Volvo, you should inspect them on a more regular basis. This inspection is important because its possible for the steel braid to flex and fatigue and puncture the teflon part of the hose. Also, most of these brake hoses are not DOT approved. A few might have a kevlar liner between the braid and the teflon core so that they are indeed, DOT approved. DOT approved hoses could prove difficult to find, however. The DOT is reluctant to accept braided stainless brake hoses because the condition of the inner hose isn't easy to inspect and a worn line can fray and cut the inner hose.

A few other things to consider.
Automobile manufacturers invest lots of time and energy into designing the bends of brake hoses to minimize the stresses on them from flexing and bending. Volvos already have excellent and redundant brake hardware. About the best and most noticeable upgrade you can do to the brakes on your Volvo is use a different brake pad. Stainless braided hoses also aren't very forgiving when hit or bent, and if they develop a leak, you may not see it because the lines are pretty well hidden behind everything.

Stainless hoses do have the advantage of firming up the pedal to its maximum amount. They also look really cool. If carefully installed and regularly inspected, you shouldn't have any problem running stainless steel brake hoses. You may not notice much of an improvement over a normal Volvo braking system in good repair, though. As with many upgrades, this one bears a big blinking neon sign that says Caveat Emptor.
 

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