Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Best brake line flare tool

What’s the brake line flare tool kit?

A good brake line flare tool kit can make or break your brake line repair job. The kits run from as little as $10 to as much as $400. Since you’ll most likely use this tool on one job, you’ll be tempted to buy the cheapest kit. Don’t. A cheap brake line flare tool kit can turn an already tough job into a nightmare. Cheap flare tools produce substandard flares that leak. But the best brake line flare tool kits produce a perfect double/inverted or bubble flare every time.

It’s a matter of perspective

I’ve replaced lots of rusted brake lines and I’m here to tell you that the hardest part of the job is removing the rusted fittings  and matching the bends in the line. The second hardest part is working in very tight spaces with rust falling in your face. The  last thing you need on an awful job like this is to fight with your flaring tool. You can spend hours wrestling out the old line and matching the bends, only to screw up the last flare because of a cheap tool.

The most common brake line flare tool kit is also the worst

The most common flare tool kits include a holding device, an inverting brake line flare tool kitflare plug and a V-shape flare ram. You can find inexpensive kits at auto parts and tool stores like Harbor Freight. The biggest problem with cheap brake flaring kits is the tubing vice. No matter high tightly you crank on the wingnuts, a cheap vice just won’t hold the tubing tight enough. So the tubing slips away from the punch as you try to invert the tubing. The inverting plugs aren’t very good either. They often don’t sit squarely on the tubing and wind up producing a lopsided inverted flare. Worse yet, they don’t work well in tight spots. Plan on spending at least $30 on this type of kit. If your vehicle has SAE bubble flares or DIN Mushroom flares, plan on spending close to $100 for a kit that does both types.

Here’s how to make an SAE double/inverted flare using this tool

RICK’S take on conventional brake line flare tool kits: I hate these kits. I have a good one made by a top name tool company. It still sucks. If you want to make a horrible job even worse, but this type of flaring kit.

Die and plug brake line flaring kits

I saw this Titan Tools #51535 Double Flaring Tool for 3/16″ brake line on youtube and had to try it. It costs about $50 on Amazon. It produces a better and more consistent flare than the titan tool kit 51535 flare tool kitconventional flare tool shown above. Plus, it has a much faster learning curve. The kit only makes SAE double/inverted flares and only on 3/16″ brake line, so it’s not the right tool if you’ve got a different size or need a bubble flare.

The Titan Tools #51535 Double Flaring Tool comes with a die, handle, depth gauge, lubricant and inversion/flare plug.

Here are the things I like about this flaring tool:

• It’s affordable
• It’s smaller and fits into tight places on the vehicle so you can flare-in-place.
• The depth gauge takes most of the guesswork out of placing the brake line in the die.
• The die clamps down tightly on the brake line—no slipping here.
• The inversion plug does a really nice job folding the tubing over. Then just flip the flare plug around and crank on it again to make the flare.
• Fewer parts to keep track of or lose.

Here’s what I don’t like about this flaring tool:

• It’s clunky. Once you have the brake line set to the right depth, you have to tighten the two piece die. That means you have to wrangle the two piece die while keeping the brake line in place, while also tightening the two die bolts with a wrench or socket/ratchet. If the brake line moves during tightening, you’ll screw up the flare.
• You need multiple wrenches or sockets/ratchet; one size to tighten the die and a larger size to crank on the punch.
• Only works on 3/16″ brake line
• Only makes SAE double/inverted flares
Here’s how to make an SAE double/inverted flare using this tool

RICK’S take on the Titan Tools #51535 Double Flaring Tool. Great tool if you only have to make a few flares and have 3/16″ brake line and need SAE double/inverted flare fittings.

Professional hydraulic brake line flare tool kit

The S.U.R.& R. PFT409 Piston Grip Flaring Tool kit (around $300) has a built in hydraulic ram that produces over 6,000 PSI to form the inverted portion and the final flare. The kit includes 4 dies sur&r piston grip flare tool kitand 10 punches to fit 3/16”, 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8” and 4.75mm brake line. It makes 45° SAE double/inverted, SAE bubble and DIN Mushroom flares on all four brake line sizes. S.U.R.& R. sells additional die and punches to make 37° flares used on some vehicles.

Here are the things I like about the S.U.R.& R. flaring tool:

• Best and most consistent flares of all three types.
• Easiest to use
• Hydraulic ram=less wrist fatigue. If you’re replacing a lot of lines, this is a REALLY important feature.
• Punches just snap into place
• Ram releases quickly.

Here’s what I don’t like about the S.U.R.& R. flaring tool:

• Nothing. I love this tool.

Here’s how to make an SAE double/inverted flare using this tool

RICK’S take on the S.U.R.& R. PFT409 Piston Grip Flaring Tool kit. Cream of the crop. It made quick work out of replacing 6 brake lines and 12 flares. This is absolutely pro grade.

Disclaimer: S.U.R.& R. provided their PFT409 Piston Grip Flaring Tool kit on loan for this story with no guarantee that I would write a favorable post. I purchased the S.U.R&R UltraBEND® Flexible Brake Line Tubing and all flare fittings at my expense.

©, 2019 Rick Muscoplat




Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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