(Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures. Too busy wrenching. Here, have a file photo.)

Don’t ya just hate it when a repair has to be done twice?

My father’s Lincoln Town Car (’97) was experiencing some brake fluid loss recently. But it wasn’t leaving any puddles... so I helped him investigate.

Well, he must have been really babying it on the road, because a forceful application of the brakes was all it took to reveal a leak by the LR wheel. Upon closer inspection, it was one of the hard lines.

(Again, not the actual car in question. Wrong color, even. But that red sure is sexy, isn’t it?)

It soon became clear that under its previous owner, most of the car’s brake lines had already been replaced with that green-coated (Poly-Armour?) steel tubing. Which is fine, except that they never bothered to remove the original stock tubing. They just cut off the last foot or so to make room to connect the new stuff.

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Of course, this also means that they were unable to use the plastic retainer clips to hold the new line in place along the frame. Instead, they just routed them nearby, secured with zip-ties. Which, again, should have been fine, if only they had done something to keep the new lines from rubbing against each other...

Yup, that’s how it sprung a leak. A couple of steel lines, chafing over time, severely shortening the life they would otherwise have had. Hell, they probably would have lasted as long as the car if done right.

(Here’s another pic I found online. Much better match of the car in question, right down to the grey trim at the bottom.)

So we got to work, pulling the damaged line out (somehow, one line took the brunt of the chafe-damage, and we were able to leave the other one alone). We also made sure to take the time to remove the original remnants, so that we could use the proper retainer clips. That’s when we noticed a second leak- the RF hard line, running under the engine. This one wasn’t chafing, though. It was the one original line still in service, the only one not yet replaced.

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So now two lines had to be replaced, one because it finally succumbed to 20 years of salty Michigan roads, and the other because a shop got lazy.

We picked up some fittings, NiCopp tubing, and brake fluid from the local parts store, and spent the afternoon replacing lines. Bled all four corners, and luckily didn’t have to do anything special to bleed the ABS module. The end result- a good, firm pedal, much better braking, and zero leaks.

Sorry I didn’t take any pictures. If you want to see just how rusty brake lines tend to get around my neck o’ the woods, DT’s got you covered:

“NOT for use in Automotive Brake Line Systems.”

BTW, quick little anecdote:

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The rear line was more-or-less L-shaped, running from the front to the rear, then across to the wheel on the other side. So to facilitate installation, we decided to make two straight-ish runs, and connect them with a union.

When we went to the local AutoZone for parts, the guy up front went in the back to gather my parts, and returned to the counter with a compression fitting.

He was aware that I was working on brake lines, and a compression fitting was his first instinct.