While those trying to grow the market for copper-nickel
tubing in automotive hydraulic brake lines often point to
Sweden's Volvo Car Corp. as a big success story, one thing they
often neglect to mention is that while the European automaker
was one of the first to use the product, it no longer does
Anders Larin, Volvo's deputy manager of chassis brake
system/pedals, said that copper-nickel tubing proved to be a
very successful solution to the brake line corrosion problem
that the automaker experienced before switching from uncoated
"Bundy" tubing in 1970 and the potential safety issues that
could have ensued.
Periodic inspections of the brake lines in Volvo vehicles
had revealed corrosion, and Larin said there were concerns that
with such corrosion there could be a leakage of brake fluid and
subsequent brake failure.
"We had no complaints at all with the copper-nickel product,
but it was much more expensive," he said. "Because of that, and
advances in steel tube coatings, we stopped using copper-nickel
in 2002," switching to steel tubing with an aluminum/polymer
epoxy coating. "It fulfilled our requirements but was less
expensive" and more available. Adding to the expense of the
copper-nickel product was the brass nipples that the automaker
needed to use at the ends of the brake line.
"Copper-nickel tubing was also hard to get hold of," Larin
said. "There are very few producers that make it in the
diameters we need."
Volvo isn't having the same problem with
aluminum/epoxy-coated steel tubing, he said. "We are very
satisfied with its performance. We haven't had any failures
with the product. We have no plans to go back to