There’s no question that when modifying a C4 or C5 Corvette, the most overlooked system on the vehicle is the braking system. It’s possible the availability of components is partly to blame for this oversight. After all, for every 50 companies that offer horsepower upgrades, there are probably only 10 that offer proven brake system performance.
Zip excels in packaging C4 Corvette Brake Systems and C5 Corvette Brake Systems. We offer more than just high-end competition brake systems because we understand that not everyone wants to – or needs to – replace their entire system. Sometimes, you simply want to improve the factory system. Zip offers many affordable up-grades ranging from brake pads to a line pressure bias spring to stainless steel brake lines.
To refer to them as brake lines is a bit of a misnomer; they’re really high-tech hoses due to their construction. At the center is a flexible Teflon hose that seals in the brake fluid, just like OE brake hoses. The benefit is found in the outer shell. The Teflon hose is encased by a stainless steel braided shell. This is what gives the hose its strength and durability and is why they’re referred to as lines and not hoses. This strength and durability is precisely why stainless steel lines have been preferred over rubber hoses on race cars. However, just because Corvette Parts are on a race car doesn’t mean they should be on a street car. But it also doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t.
Simply put, stainless steel brake lines are superior to the original equipment rubber brake hoses. Over time, rubber hoses dry out and crack. This leads to leaks and an eventual rupture. Granted, a bad hose is usually discovered long before it bursts and under normal driving conditions, it takes considerable time for a hose to reach failure. So if the most aggressive driving you do with your Corvette is in a car show parade, your factory hoses are fine. Just have them inspected when you get your pads changed out at 60 or 80,000 miles.
But for those of you who are used to changing brake pads at 5 to 10,000 miles (or less), get rid of those rubber hoses and install a set of stainless steel lines.
Whether you’re aggressive on the street or auto-crossing on the weekend, you’ll enjoy the benefits of the stainless lines. Most notable is a firmer and more consistent brake pedal. This comes from the strength of the stainless steel shell. With rubber, every time you stab the brake pedal the hose balloons slightly under the extreme internal hydraulic pressure. You will feel this ballooning as a soft brake pedal. Now add to that the high temperatures generated during heavy braking and the result is braking inconsistency. As the temperature goes up, so does the flexibility of rubber and therefore more ballooning. Compound this with thousands of cycles and that’s why rubber hoses eventually fail when subjected to constant aggressive braking.
In addition to a firmer, more consistent brake pedal, you’ll also realize a higher brake pedal. Simply put, less pedal travel is required to generate the desired brake pressure. When the rubber hose expands, the internal area of the brake system is increased. That is why extra pedal travel is required to bring the system up to a given pressure. All these benefits usually parlay themselves into more confidence in your brakes, resulting in quicker times at the auto-cross.
Follow along with our technical article “1984-2004 Corvette Stainless Steel Brake Hose Installation” as we install stainless brake lines on a new C5 Corvette. However, the steps shown in the article apply to C4 Corvettes as well. There is no significant difference between the brake hoses and connections on C4 and C5 Corvettes.
For more great technical articles covering all Corvette generations, visit corvettemagazine.com, your online source for Corvette know-how!