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MG MGB Technical - Brake Hoses

To all,

I am sharing an experience that I feel will be important to everyone who regularly drives their MGB.

About 10 years ago I replaced the 20 yr old original brake hoses in my '73 B.

In the course of maintenance (greasing, etc.), I normally take a visual inspection of various components under the car. My brake hoses still look new and they are flexible.

The other day I had to do an EXTREME panic stop because some idiot ran a stop sign and pulled out in front of me while I was going about 45 mph.

The brakes haven't had much attention in the past few years as they have been working fine. I was quite happy with the way the car was hauled down to a stop. Although some rear locking occurred, the car basically came to a halt straight and I was in complete control the entire time.

However, couple of hours later, the pedal had fallen to a dangerously low level. Checked the fluid level and it was almost gone. Topped the system up and tested the brakes with firm pressure on the pedal. The pedal was firm but fell slowly indicating a leak somewhere.

Well, that leak turned out to be the left front brake hose! The hose is still flexible and visually in very good condition but has a small pin hole in it now. Based on this I would never have worried about the possibility of failure but fail it did.

It appears that I was very lucky! Suppose I had had a catastrophic hose failure at the time of the panic stop? I probably would have plowed right into the other car.

Moral: Just because they look and feel OK do not assume they are. You might want to consider straight replacement if they are approaching 10 yrs in age.
Richard Smith

I recall, from back in my navy aircraft mech days that rubber hoses installed on a plane had a finite life and had to be replaced. Can't remember the exact interval, but I think it was either seven or ten years. Your conclusion is very correct that all rubber hoses should be replaced regularly--I had a similar thing happen with the gas lines on mty car back around the tank and fuel pump when I first bought it about seven years ago. Brakes are your first line of defense and no corners should be cut, or assumptions made about condition.
R. L Carleen

Richard. Glad you were stopped safely and that all remained well. As RL mentioned, all rubber parts have a finite life and should be replaced on some form of scheduled basis. Here in Arizona, rubber parts do not last as well as they do in places having less summer heat and more humidity. I use my MGBs as daily drivers, but the tires will demonstrate side wall cracks, due to the UV radiation, long before they have to be replaced due to treadwear. I find that the tires seem to last about five years, regardless of the number of miles driven. Hence, I use that same figure for replacing brake hoses. Coolant hoses, because they are more visible, get replaced on as "as needed" basis or about every two years.

If others, as you have, can document when they changed their brake hoses and when they noticed problems with them, perhaps we can come up with a rough guide as to how frequently they should be replaced as "preventive maintenance". Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It is well done. Les
Les Bengtson

Yes, brakes ARE the first line of defense. For logisitical reasons, I have not yet been able to replace the hoses (ALL of them will be replaced!) and, as a result, my car has not been driven at all. And it will not be driven until the hoses are replaced.

For Les,

An interesting observation about rubber and less summer heat and more humidity. I would agree with you were it not for my experience of 3 yrs. living in Singapore. Being on the equator, Singapore's temp is pretty constant in the low 90's. Humidity is in the stratoshpere! Makes New Orleans seem like a dry place! Due to the humidity, UV is filtered much more than in a place like Arizona.

One of the very curious things I noted while living there was the wiper blades were always totally shot after six months. For decent wiper performance the replacement cycle would be about 3-4 months! I could never pin anything down as to what caused this.
Richard Smith

This thread was discussed between 26/04/2005 and 27/04/2005

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