Install Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines On A Lotus Elise Or Exige
Learn how to replace the brake lines on a S2 Lotus Elise. This article likely applies directly to the Exige and other S1, and S3 cars with some slight changes (I know the Exige is much more difficult to access on the front).
If you need to replace your brake lines or are looking to upgrade to a stainless braided set, this article should get you there.
Braided Stainless steel lines have a PTFE inner line that prevent them from expanding under braking unlike aged rubber lines do. This leads to a slightly firmer feel.
- Hydraulic Jack
- Jack Stands
- Metric Open end wrenches 10mm, 13mm, 15mm, 17mm
- Torque Wrench
Preparing The Car
Jack up all 4 corners of the car and place on jack stands.
If you don't have an impact wrench, you'll need to break the lug nuts loose now. You won't be able to use the car's weight or the brakes to stop the wheels from rotating later.
Remove front access panels
Remove Front Radiator Exit Grills.
Remove Radiator Grill brackets.
Front Passenger Side Brake Line (LHD)
We'll start with the hardest first!
If your car doesn't have air conditioning, you can skip steps 5, 6, and 7.
Loosen passenger side fuse box from the panel it screws onto. Take care not to lose the screws or any of the plastic bits. It screws on with 2 Philips head screws.
Remove fuse panel mounting panel. It screws on with 2 Philips head screws.
Disconnect the wiper motor harness.
Locate theend of the flexible brake hose where it connects to the hard lines on the chassis.
The couplings on both front lines are hidden inside a chassis housing that makes them very difficult. To help understand what you're looking at here's a quick description of the junction.
Each is arranged in this order:
- Flexible brake line
- Flexible brake line nut (15mm)
- chassis housing bracket (line passes through)
- Flexible line jam nut (17mm tightened against the bracket)
- Flexible line end's thread
- Hard line female coupler (13mm)
This arrangement is used at every corner of the car.
Loosen the 17mm brake line jam nut (5). Use a 15mm wrench on the brake line nut (2) to keep it from turning.
Now you can see why we removed the fuse panel and wiper motor connectors.
Loosen the female coupling from the flexible brake line. Use a 15mm wrench on the flexible line's nut (2) and a 13mm wrench on the female coupling (7).
Expect brake fluid to leak out. I placed several paper towels under the fittings.
Take a break. If it took you as long as it took me, you're tired of leaning over the car.
Remove the wheel.
Remove 10mm nut holding the brake hose to the A-Arm.
Remove any brackets connecting the abs wires to the brake line.
Remove brake hose from caliper using a 15mm open end wrench.
Expect brake fluid to leak out.
Install new brake line into the caliper and tighten.
You must start by installing the line into the caliper first. Trust me.
Slide the new brake line into the hole in the chassis bracket.
Slide the washer and jam nut on the other side of the bracket. Keep it loose so its easy to move.
Screw the hardline's female coupler onto the flexible brake hose and tighten.
Note this is why we installed the caliper's end first - the female coupler can spin around the brake line.
Tighten the jam nut against the chassis brackets.
Install the a-arm hose retaining brackets with a 10mm nut.
Add cable ties as needed to hold the abs line to the brake line if needed.
Front Driver's Side Brake Line (LHD)
We'll follow the same steps as the passenger side. This side is a little different. We can access the couplers directly through the access hole - but not from behind as the brake booster is in the way.
Loosen the Jam Nut
Loosen the Female coupler
Everything from here on is just like the other side.
Remove the retaining brackets on the a-arm
Remove the flexible line from the brake caliper
Install the new brake line into the caliper, and tighten.
Route the end of the line through the chassis.
Slip on the washer and jam nut.
Screw the flexible line into the female coupler.
Tighten the Jam Nut
Add brake line retaining bracket and add any zip ties needed for the ABS sensor lines.
Both Rear Lines
The rear wheels are downright simple compared to the fronts. They work exactly the same as the fronts, but the inner couplings are easier to access.
Go through all the same steps you did for the fronts on each rear corner.
Bleeding the Brakes.
You'll need to aggressively bleed all 4 corners of the system. Due to the fact that we introduced air at all 4 corners, you will likely experience quite a bit of sponginess at first.
I pumped an insane amount of fluid through the system to remove all the air. Time after time, they would barely stop the car from rolling down the driveway.
The final time, I resorted to removing the front calipers and turning them upside down (along with a few tappy-tappy-taps from a small hammer.
The story is that the air gets trapped in them and can't escape without turning them upside down. It sounded a little strange to me, till I had to do it.
I trust you can assemble everything that's left, there shouldn't be any surprises.
Wheel Lug Torque: 77 ft-lbs. or 104 Nm