Braided 4WD Electronic Shift on-the-fly Replacement Lines

October 30, 2005
Written by: E. Long
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This article shows you how to replace the rubber 4WD electronic shift on-the-fly (ESOF) replacement lines with braided lines. This "how to" article was performed on a 4x4 2000 Ford Excursion. The concept outlined in this article may also be applied to other 4x4 vehicles, too.


The goal of this install is to show how to replace the OEM rubber ESOF lines which often times become brittle and cracked, causing vacuum leaks in the ESOF system. Braided lines will not deteriorate like rubber lines.

Required Tools:

(1) 7/16" wrench
(1) Utility knife
(4) Zip ties
(1) Ruler

Purchase tools online from with your SuperMotors subscriber discount!

Products needed:

(2) Replacement braided ESOF lines

Time Requirements

15-20 minutes


1 out of 10 (1 being easiest, 10 being hardest)

Where to Buy

I purchased these braided lines through Here is a direct link to this product on

Step 1: Remove existing rubber hose

1.) Jack up the front end of the vehicle and remove each wheel.

The photos in this article show the driver's side hose replacement. Wheels will need to be removed to gain access to the rubber hose.

2.) Locate the rubber ESOF hose.

The hoses are bundled with the ABS and brake lines.

3.) Peel back wheel well covering to gain access to the entire ESOF line.

The wheel well covering is held to the wheel well by tabs that can be popped out by pulling away from the frame.

4.) Pull the rubber line off of the nipple of the ESOF line (mounted on the frame).

5.) Remove the hose from the steering knuckle.

Make a vertical cut on the ESOF line at the nipple on the steering knuckle and pull the rubber hose off.

6.) Remove the rubber hose completely.

Simply fish it out of the plastic hoops and set the hose aside (you will need it again in step #2).

7.) Using a 7/16" wrench, remove the nipple at the steering knuckle.

Step 2: Install braided line

1.) Start by installing the threaded end of the braided line into the steering knuckle.

This is a little tricky because the braided line is not very flexible. Curl the line up like I did in the photos below and then thread it into place.

2.) Cut a 2" - 2-1/2" piece of rubber hose from the old rubber line to connect the braided line to the nipple mounted on the frame.

Make sure to cut off the ends of the rubber hose first. Ideally, you want to cut off a 2" - 2-/12" section from the middle of the hose. The ends will be hardened and brittle.

3.) Connect the 2" rubber hose at the nipple on the frame and the nipple on the end of the braided line.

4.) Use 2 zip ties to secure the braided line to the ABS and brake lines.

5.) Cut extra rubber hose and keep them in your glove box just in case the installed 2" rubber hose becomes cracked or brittle -- you will have an easy replacement available.

6.) Start the vehicle, switch to 4x4, and check for leaks. If 4x4 engages, your installation is a success!


This is one of the easier replacements you can do with basic tools in your garage. While I didn't have any leaks in my previous rubber lines, the ends (at the steering knuckle) were very brittle. This is a great preventative maintenance item.

Additional Questions or Comments?

Do you have additional questions or comments about this install article? Please discuss them in this forum thread.

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