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Discussion Starter #1
2003 ZX3...was a California car...no visible rust on body...minimal underneath. Was driving away from house and about the 3rd stop...no brakes to speak of.

Haven't gotten into it much yet...but it looks like the brake line going to the rear brakes has rusted thru. Strangely enough it is in a place where it is far away from the wheels and road salt and up behind an alum exhaust shield...the last place I would expect serious rust damage.

Wondering is this typical for these years of Focus?
 

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2003 ZX3...was a California car...no visible rust on body...minimal underneath. Was driving away from house and about the 3rd stop...no brakes to speak of.

Haven't gotten into it much yet...but it looks like the brake line going to the rear brakes has rusted thru. Strangely enough it is in a place where it is far away from the wheels and road salt and up behind an alum exhaust shield...the last place I would expect serious rust damage.

Wondering is this typical for these years of Focus?
The line most likely rusted from the inside out. Brake fluid is hydroscopic (absorbs water) and this cars fluid probably was never flushed which should be done every 1-2 years.

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #3
At the point where it is leaking fluid there is obvious outside rust on the line. I think I might have seen this area before but dismissed it as not a probable leak area.

At any rate the line needs replacing....was just hoping I wouldn't have this issue with this car.

Car was made in Mexico and sold in Calif...has been in the rust belt for at least the last 8 yrs or so and almost 50K miles....so the suspension underneath is showing some rust.
 

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]the last place I would expect serious rust damage.
Up behind stuff is the first place things rust. You have been driving it in a salt belt for the last 8 years. Salt and road spray get everywhere and being up behind a heat shield actually makes it worse because when you go through car washes and get a under spray or try to wash it in the winter your self you cant get as good at the undercarriage or the spots at least that have heat shields.

Glad nothing bad happened.

This has happened a to a few people that I have seen on the forum.
 

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Definitely lucked out as far as no accident...I usually actually use the brakes on this car...expecting them to work when needed. When they went out I was driving easy and used the poor emergency brake to get it home a couple of blocks.

I'll go thru the lines and replace anything questionable.
 

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Everything is bend to make now. there is a place that make pre bent out of stainless but IIRC those don't fit right, or run the chance of them not fitting right since there were a few different bends and ways the rear lines were routed.

I went to the junk yard and found a clean set when I was redoing my SVT and had the whole under bits removed.
 

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Braided stainless is for the parts that flexx at the suspension joints. You really want proper hard lines for the parts that go along the body, which will be bent steel,

Also, if the corrosion wa bad enough to eat through the brake lines, you want to check the frame steel as well.
 

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Braided stainless is for the parts that flexx at the suspension joints. You really want proper hard lines for the parts that go along the body, which will be bent steel,

Also, if the corrosion wa bad enough to eat through the brake lines, you want to check the frame steel as well.
 

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Braided stainless is for the parts that flexx at the suspension joints. You really want proper hard lines for the parts that go along the body, which will be bent steel,

Also, if the corrosion wa bad enough to eat through the brake lines, you want to check the frame steel as well.
I did not say braided stainless, there is a company that makes stainless steel hard lines. https://www.sstubes.com/collections/brake-lines/Ford-Focus-2003
 

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My mistake.

Stainless steel is rigid, but can also be brittle for tube. I would not do this if you drive where they put gravel on the road in winter, or if you EVER need to drive on gravel roads. Where a steel line will dent, a stainless one might crack, and then you're right back where you started with non-working brakes.
 

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copper-Nickle looks like its the best "new" material to use for life long use.

https://www.copper.org/applications/automotive/brake-tube/brake.html

https://www.copper.org/applications/automotive/brake-tube/brake.html

But dont think the SS would have the problems you discuss but don't have any knowledge of that. The fact that Dorman and Summit and others sell stainless steel line stock and also prebent line for OEM replacement also would lead me to belive its safe replacement. the flaring is a bit more difficult to get right from what I have quickly read.
 

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the flaring is a bit more difficult to get right from what I have quickly read.
Flaring stainless brake lines is a bugger. It takes more force and the stainless wants to split, in my experience. Maybe with a hydraulic flaring tool, it would go better. Maybe.
 

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Flaring stainless brake lines is a bugger. It takes more force and the stainless wants to split, in my experience. Maybe with a hydraulic flaring tool, it would go better. Maybe.
Again no actual experience on my end with SS hard lines. but the descriptions do recommend having a professional do the flair. Some also specify that the SS hard lines are annealed multiple times to aid in the flaring and reduce the splitting. so what you say makes sense and someone like me who has flared a total of 6 fittings on steel line is likely not up to the task. (That’s where the SStubes would be nice since they are bent and flared by professionals, however some have reported that depending on year the bends, trim and body type the bends may not be accurate)

But per my limited Google searching if you want to do the brake lines and never worry about them again and have easier flange making the copper nickel appears to be the way to go. don’t know about cost on any of these.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Still working on this job. Needed a 3/16" 51" bubble flared tube with a bubble flare union....driver's side. A 40" tube and union of same type for pass side.

Getting them bent and routed is a bear...but doable. Did not try to duplicate the OEM bends...just minimum bends needed to hit mounting tabs.

Needed to remove resonator and heat shield to get to the line...driver's side. Will replace resonator with a length of ss flex pipe...stuff lasts forever. Will hang using OEM rubber mounts and thin bar stock and clamps. Pass side involves getting under the fuel filter to get to the line....can remove enough mounting points to get to it.

All other steel lines look OK...with only light rust even near wheels.

All I can say is if you have this gen of Focus (2003)...take a look...might not be so purty... Unexpected. Job not for the faint of heart.

Due to the supposed split system there were minimal brakes left...but probably not enough to stop in an emergency.

Complain all you want about the weak rear drums...the brakes on this car are typically damned good....well balanced.
 

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I dont think our 03 is going to make it much longer, it's getting pretty bad.

Lost a brake line at the wheel cylinder, there was nothing left to even think about trying to remove and repair. It's all like the Titanic at this point.


I'm going to have to replace the spindle it does not sit flat anymore had a lot of rust behind it.

This is the drivers side, I did the whole backing plate, shoes, wheel cylinder, e brake cables, (pass side is not available).

Had to free up the manual adjuster at the top, might have had 10k on these brakes shoes were pretty soaked with fluid.

I had never done a e brake cable thru the backing plate, once I figured out what I was doing wrong it went smooth, some of the tabs center the part the actual cable runs thru, and the others help hold it in place. There is a small ridge on that part.

I think we will get another few months out of it but, it's getting pretty bad underneath.

I sprayed up what I could with some rust prevent stuff.
 

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Thats pretty typical for here in the northeast. My 02 wagon isnt quite that bad but definately has its issues. The brake line from the MC to the front R (passenger) brake hose rotted thru just under the R strut tower and I had to replace that entire line. Luckily for me it let go in my own driveway!

Paul
 
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