Need to make sure your brakes are performing their best? Well, If that’s the case, then bleeding your brakes is definitely a task you shouldn’t ignore. The good news is I’ve got your back with a super easy and clear-cut guide that’ll make sure you get it done perfectly!
What Tools Are Needed To Bleed Brakes
To get the job done correctly, you will need a few essential tools. Let’s dive into what tools you’ll need to bleed your brakes effectively.
- A tool to open the bleed valve: This tool will help you open the bleed valve, which is usually located on the brake caliper or wheel cylinder. An appropriate size wrench or line wrench is best for the job. The most common bleeder valve size is 10mm.
- A catch pan: You don’t want to dump brake fluid all over the garage floor, and that’s where a catch pan comes in handy. It will collect the drained brake fluid and keep your workspace clean.
- New brake fluid: To ensure the replacement of the old brake fluid being flushed out, make sure to have new brake fluid available. It is crucial to use the appropriate type of brake fluid for your vehicle as it is essential to its braking system.
- A vacuum pump: Using a vacuum pump is not mandatory; however, it can simplify and optimize the task. It will enable you to effortlessly remove the used brake fluid and promptly refill it with new fluid.
- A brake bleed kit: This kit contains syringes, bleed adaptors, and a how-to guide for bleeding your brakes effectively. A kit is especially useful if you’re new to bleeding brakes.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Bleed Brakes
Although bleeding your brakes might appear intimidating, it’s actually a straightforward process that can be accomplished effortlessly with proper tools and some patience.
Step 1: Get the right brake fluid
Before you get started, make sure you’re using the right brake fluid for your ride. Don’t leave your ride’s brake fluid to chance! Your owner’s manual is key here. There are several types of brake fluid and they don’t always play nice together. So, be sure to use only the specific brake fluid type that your vehicle calls for! Always good to have a healthy brake system.
Step 2: Mount the car and remove the tires
To get started, jack up the car and remove the wheels. This will give you easy access to the brake components you need to work on.
Step 3: Loosen the bleeder screw
Fit one end of a piece of clear tubing tightly over the end of the bleeder screw of the first brake you’ll be bleeding, and put the other end into a catch container. This will help you avoid spilling brake fluid everywhere.
Step 4: Check the brake fluid level
Make it a point to monitor the fluid level in your brake master cylinder to avoid having air in your brake lines by not letting it go too low.
Step 5: Cover the screw opening with tubing
Again, make sure to use that clear tubing to cover the screw opening tightly. This will help prevent air from getting into your brake lines.
Step 6: Get an assistant to engage the brake pedal
Have your assistant sit in the driver’s seat and apply full effort to the brake pedal, followed by an abrupt release of that effort. This will push old brake fluid out of the brake lines.
Step 7: Repeat on each brake
Move systematically toward the driver – right rear, left rear, right front, left front – repeating the process until all four brakes have been bled. It’s worth noting that the correct sequence for bleeding brakes is generally to start with the brake that is the most distant from the master cylinder.
Don’t freak out if you’re feeling a bit inundated with all these brake bleeding methods. If you’re not diggin’ the whole gravity bleeding thing, you can try pressure bleeding instead. It’s a quick fix and can make the whole brake bleeding process less daunting. If you’re still feeling apprehensive about the process, it’s totally cool to pass it off to the experts and let them handle the brake service.
What Is The Difference Between A Gravity Bleed And A Pressure Bleed
There are two methods of bleeding brakes: gravity bleeding and pressure bleeding.
If you’re looking for a simple brake bleeding technique, gravity bleeding might do the trick. Essentially, this involves cracking open the bleeder screws on your vehicle’s brakes so that brake fluid can slowly drip out.
One perk is that the brake fluid evenly distributes to all four calipers, ensuring reliable and safe stopping power. However, it’s worth noting that this method may not be the most efficient way to solve air bubbles in your brake system. Since the fluid flow can be pretty slow, it may take a bit longer to remove all the air compared to other braking bleeding methods.
On the other hand, pressure bleeding uses a pressurized tank of brake fluid to force the fluid through the brake system. This is considered the best method for bleeding brakes since it more effectively removes air from the system. Pressure bleeding can be done using a pressure bleeder tool or by pumping the brake pedal.
While gravity bleeding has its uses, such as ensuring that brake fluid reaches every corner of a vehicle, it may not be effective in removing air from the brake system. Therefore, pressure bleeding is generally considered the best option. And don’t worry if you don’t have a pressure bleeder tool – just pump the brake pedal with a bit of force and you’ll get similar results.
How Often Should You Bleed Your Car Brakes
So, you are wondering how often you should bleed your car brakes? Well, the answer is not as straightforward as you may think. There are several factors that can affect how frequently you need to bleed your brakes.
Firstly, what type of car do you have? Different cars may require different bleeding intervals. Secondly, how often do you use your brakes? If you drive in heavy traffic or use your brakes more frequently, you may need to bleed them more frequently too.
Generally speaking, the recommended interval for brake bleeding is every two years. However, if you notice any of the following signs, then it’s time to bleed your brakes:
- Soft or spongy brake pedal: This is usually indicative of air in the brake lines, and bleeding the brakes is the solution.
- Low brake fluid: If your brake fluid level is low, then there may be air in the system, and bleeding may be necessary.
- Brake warning light: If your brake warning light comes on, then there could be several causes, one of which is low brake fluid due to air in the system.
- Brake performance: If your brakes are not as responsive as they used to be, then it may be time to bleed them.
What Are The Signs That Your Car Brakes Need Bleeding
Here are some of the tell-tale signs that your braking system needs bleeding:
- Soft pedal feel: If you feel your brake pedal sink to the floor almost as if it were made of sponge material, then it could indicate air in the braking system. When your brakes are functioning correctly, the pedal should feel firm, and there should be little to no play before they engage.
- Longer stopping distance: If you notice that your car is taking more time to come to a complete stop than usual, this could signal that air has entered the brake lines. The air hinders hydraulic pressure in your braking system, which can cause your car to have a longer stopping distance.
- Need to pump brakes: You should never have to pump your brakes to make them work effectively. When the braking system’s air coverage is significant, you may need to pump the brakes continually to maintain any consistent pressure. This is a hazardous state that could lead to brake failure at any time.
- Brake fluid leaks: When you notice leakages in your brake fluid, they cause continuous air to go into the system, forcing you to repeatedly refill or bleed your brakes. Leaks could occur due to aging or worn-out parts and should be fixed before attempting to bleed the brakes.
- Spongy brakes: When you press on your brake pedal, and it feels spongy or goes all the way to the floor without much resistance, this is an unmistakable sign that you might be losing pressure in the braking system. When brakes feel spongy, you must diagnose your car’s braking system before hitting the road.
What Are Some Common Mistakes To Avoid When Bleeding Your Car Brakes By Yourself
So, some peeps prefer to let the pros handle brake bleeding, while others like to diy it. But, if you mess up, you could end up shelling out a lot of cash for repairs or putting your safety on the line. Here are some boo-boos to steer clear of when giving your car brakes the ol’ bleed by yourself.
Mistake #1: Mixing Brake Fluid Types
The type of brake fluid used in your car is a crucial factor that must not be overlooked. Different types of brake fluid have different chemical compositions, making them unsuitable for mixing. Make sure you read the owner’s manual to determine what type of brake fluid your car requires.
Mistake #2: Introducing Dirt into the System
Another critical mistake to avoid when bleeding your brakes is to ensure that you remove any dirt, debris or contamination from the brake fluid system. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs water, so keep the system sealed when working on it. Also, use a clean cloth to wipe down any exposed parts before you proceed.
Mistake #3: Stripping the Bleeder Bolt
When loosening or tightening bleeder bolts on your brake calipers, use the correct-sized wrench to avoid stripping them. Also, ensure that you do not overtighten as it can damage the bolt or cause it to shear off.
Mistake #4: Getting Brake Fluid Everywhere
Spills of brake fluid can pose a double threat, as they have the potential to cause harm and extensive harm. They have the capability of peeling or discoloring paint surfaces and leaving a slick residue, which can be unsafe to handle. Minimizing spills is important, so it is recommended to always have rags or paper towels nearby, use protective gloves, and approach the task with caution.
Other Tips for Bleeding Your Car Brakes
In addition to the mistakes mentioned above, there are a few other things to keep in mind when bleeding your car brakes:
- Bleed the brakes afterward, being careful with the bleeder screw. Any air bubbles in your braking system can cause inconsistent performance, so take the time to ensure all bubbles have been removed.
- Keep an eye on the brake fluid reservoir and top it off when necessary to ensure a constant supply of fluid.
- Use a box wrench that fits the bleeder bolt to avoid stripping it.
- Pump the brakes back up after turning the car on to rebuild pressure in the braking system before taking a test ride.
Bleeding your brakes is a necessary maintenance task to ensure your vehicle’s braking system is working to its fullest potential. With the help of some essential tools, including a brake bleed kit, new brake fluid, and a catch pan, bleeding your brakes can be done easily and quickly.
Whether you choose gravity bleeding or pressure bleeding, it’s crucial to monitor your brake fluid levels regularly and pay attention to any warning signs that may indicate the need for bleeding, such as a soft brake pedal feel or longer stopping distances. Staying on top of your brake bleeding intervals can help keep you safe on the road.