Lotus Elan Central
Replacement of the Stock Rubber Brake Hoses w/ Stainless Steel Braided Lines

This material contained on this page is informational in nature only, and does not imply all knowledge needed to safely work on the braking system of your Elan! I did not author this section, I will not warranty the contents, nor will I take responsibility for your actions if you should attempt to work on your Elan's brakes based solely on these instructions. See DISCLAIMER. Brake pads may contain Asbestos dust which can cause cancer, and proper mask/ventilation should be followed. Brake fluid is caustic and should be handled and disposed of properly.


The following write-up discusses replacement of the Elan’s stock hoses with the SMC Stainless Steel Brake Hose Kit purchased through Bill Luton at Isuzuperformance. If a different kit is used, please check all hoses to ensure the exact same lengths as stock. Also verify the kit includes new sealing washers (8) or you will want to buy new ones (Lotus part #A100J6038F – or from most auto stores, I imagine). Please also read Doug’s excellent write-up of bleeding your brakes, as you will have to clear your entire system as you replace your hoses.

The stock Elan brake system consists of metal piping and rubber hoses leading from the master cylinder to each of the four calipers. Rubber hoses are used in the Elan, and in almost all other brake systems where flexibility is needed (i.e., around moving suspension points). Unfortunately this same flexibility can hinder the feel and effectiveness of the braking system. As the brake pedal is depressed, fluid within the system is forced into the calipers and pushes the pistons out. These pistons press against the brake pads which, in turn make contact with the rotors, and voila…the car (hopefully) stops. As the fluid is forced into the caliper, the pressure can expand the rubber hoses, resulting in a softer brake pedal feel. Steel-braided lines nearly eliminate this expansion and result in a firmer brake pedal and better “feel”. These lines consist of a rubber or Teflon hose surrounded by braided stainless steel that is usually encased in clear plastic tubing to keep debris and moisture out. This construction allows for flexibility but not expansion.


What's Needed

Essential Parts:

  • Stainless braided hoses (six to a set)
  • Four jack stands (highly recommended)
  • (see also Bleeding your Elan’s brakes-parts needed section)

Tools Needed:

  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • 11mm & 7/16” open-end wrenches
  • 10mm and 11mm sockets

Brake lines

Installation Procedure.

The steps are simply to remove fluid, remove stock lines, replace lines, replace fluid, and bleed. I highly recommend purchasing, borrowing, or otherwise acquiring a set of four jack stands before you begin to expedite the whole job. If not, you will need to lift each corner separately and remove the wheel to replace the hoses, then return later to lift and remove the wheel again to bleed the system. For me, the timesaving was well worth the small investment of the stands. Besides, I will use them again and it was fun poking around under the car to safety inspect and to dream of other modifications later down the road.

Whichever method of levitation you use, before removing any hoses you should first remove all fluid from the line to be replaced. As cautioned in the brake bleeding write-up, PLEASE be careful when handling brake fluid and disposing of it. The fluid will ruin your car’s paint, and it can ruin the environment if not properly handled. I drained the fluid through the bleed screw using another Griot's Garage product (similar to Doug’s). This was their “One Man Brake Bleeder”, item #35700, $164 (thankfully, it was a gift). It works off an air compressor and makes a usual brake bleeding about a 20-minute job. Very slick. I found this was faster, easier, and cleaner than removing one end of the hose and letting all the fluid drain out. It also makes removal of fluid in the reservoir easy: drop the end of the hose in and suck it out.

Stock front lines

I do not believe a specific order needs to be followed for the replacement, but I used the same ordering as a normal fluid replacement for consistency sake (For LHD - passenger rear, driver rear, passenger front, and driver front). When clearing the first line, you will need to first remove as much fluid from the reservoir as you can, then drain the line. The stock rubber line is then removed by carefully unscrewing each end and gently removing the retaining clips (Lotus part #A100J6039F – if one breaks). These can be stubborn, but some Liquid Wrench helps. Pliers worked in most instances for me, but I also lightly tapped one off using a hammer and standard screwdriver. The stock banjo bolts going into the calipers are 11mm and 10mm for the new SMC bolts. I used a socket for these. The metal line-side screw is 11mm and the stock hose “bolt-collar” is 19mm. I used an open-end wrench on the 11mm and just a pair of pliers to hold the hose side. The SMC hose “collar” is 7/16”, or you can use pliers again.

Front lines

Be sure to save the banjo bolts that go into the calipers and purchase some new sealing washers if your replacement set does not come with them (the SMC set comes with all new hardware). Also pay attention to the stock orientation of the brake line. These positions keep the lines out of the way of any moving parts. Be sure to install the new lines in the EXACT SAME position. When removing the rear lines, note there are TWO lines to each side. Not exactly Chapman’s “less is better” theory, but oh well. There is one at the caliper and one under the car near where the lower wishbone meets the frame. Make sure to compare the stock line upon removal to the replacement line to verify the new line is the correct length (the inner and outer rear hoses are slightly different lengths). Position the new hose and loosely tighten each end to hold it in place. Gently reinstall the retaining clips and then fully tighten the ends.

Rear lines 1      Rear lines 2

Rear lines 3

Once all six hoses have been replaced and are properly tightened, you can refill the master cylinder reservoir and bleed the system per Doug’s write-up. As always, while you have everything apart, check the condition of your pads, suspension components, belts and anything else you can get to. A little inspection now can save another job (or a big problem) later.

Write-up by David R. Meyers

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