Over time, air and contaminants build up in your Honda Civic’s brake lines, causing the brakes to feel soft or spongy. Bleeding the brakes flushes the system with fresh fluid to restore braking performance. Follow this step-by-step guide to properly bleed the brakes on your 7th to 10th generation (1992-2000) Honda Civic.
Why Bleed Your Brakes?
Brake fluid is hydraulically incompressible, meaning it transfers pressure from the brake pedal to the calipers efficiently. Air, on the other hand, is highly compressible. Air bubbles in the brake lines reduce braking power and create a soft, spongy pedal feel.
Contaminants like dirt and moisture also make their way into the brake fluid over time. This can corrode the brake components from the inside, causing further problems. That’s why it’s important to periodically bleed the old fluid out.
Symptoms of air in brake lines:
- Soft or spongy brake pedal
- Increased stopping distance
- Brake pedal almost reaches the floor before slowing the car
By bleeding the brakes, you flush the old contaminated fluid and air bubbles out of the system. This restores proper brake pedal feel and stopping power.
What You’ll Need
- 1 liter of new brake fluid (DOT 3 or DOT 4)
- 8mm & 10mm box end wrenches
- Clear plastic tubing
- An empty bottle/container
- Turkey baster or brake bleeder (optional)
Step-By-Step Brake Bleeding Process
Follow these steps to safely bleed the brakes on your ’92-’00 Honda Civic:
1. Check Brake Fluid Level
Before opening the system, check that your brake fluid reservoir under the hood has an adequate level. Top it off with fresh fluid if low.
2. Loosen Bleeder Screws
Start on the passenger rear wheel first. Using an 8mm or 10mm box end wrench, crack open the bleeder screw about a quarter turn. Don’t remove it fully.
3. Connect Tubing
Attach one end of the clear plastic tubing to the bleeder screw. Submerge the free end into your empty bottle.
4. Pump Brakes
If you have a helper, have them pump the brake pedal several times then hold light-to-moderate pressure on it. Avoid pushing the pedal all the way to the floor, as this can damage the brake pistons.
5. Open Bleeder
While pressure is held on the pedal, open the bleeder screw a full turn. Fluid will flow out carrying air bubbles and contaminants.
6. Close Bleeder
As soon as the stream of fluid stops or you see clear fluid, close the bleeder screw. Then have your helper release the pedal and repeat steps 4-6 until no more bubbles come out.
7. Repeat All Wheels
Follow this process for each wheel, moving in sequence from the right rear, left rear, right front, and finally left front.
8. Check Master Cylinder
After bleeding all wheels, remove the reservoir cap and ensure the fluid level is up to the “MAX” line. Top off if needed.
9. Test Brakes
Start the engine and pump the brakes to build pressure. Check that the pedal feels firm – not spongy. Take it for a test drive and make sure the brakes are functioning properly.
And that’s it! With fresh fluid flowing freely throughout the system, your Civic’s brakes will feel crisp and responsive again.
- Monitor fluid level in reservoir – don’t let it empty.
- Don’t pump pedal to floor when bleeding.
- Use a brake bleeder tool for one-person operation.
- Flush fluid every 2-3 years or 30,000 miles.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of brake fluid should I use?
Use DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid. Don’t mix fluid types.
How often should I bleed the brakes?
Plan to bleed the brakes every 2-3 years or 30,000 miles. Do it more often if you notice brake problems.
Why start on the right rear brake?
Bleeding the rear brakes first helps purge more air bubbles from the system. Starting on the passenger side ensures any remaining air gets pushed to the left front brake – the farthest point from the master cylinder.
Can I drive with some air in the brake lines?
It’s not recommended. Even small amounts of air can greatly reduce your braking power and make the car unsafe to drive.
Why does my Civic’s brake pedal go to the floor?
If the brake pedal sinks all the way to the floor when pressed, you likely have air trapped in the hydraulic lines or a leak. Bleeding may fix it, but have your brake system inspected immediately.
Bleeding the brakes is one of the easiest ways to restore that solid, confident brake pedal feel in your Honda Civic. Just follow the steps above to flush out old fluid and bubbles for improved brake performance.