How to Bleed Brakes by Yourself

Mechanic checking brake fluid


Bleeding brakes is a fairly simple job, but it’s definitely time-consuming and you have to be detail-oriented to get it done right. You do not want to drive around Bismarck or Williston with improperly bled brake lines, as your car brakes are one of the most important safety features, and brakes that don’t work can cause serious accidents. So, with that in mind, here’s a guide on how to bleed brake lines the right way, brought to you by Ideal Auto. Have questions as you read? Contact us anytime!

Why is Bleeding Car Brakes Important? 

Bleeding your car’s brakes is an essential maintenance step. Why? A car’s brake system consists partially of brake lines that are filled with brake fluid. Over time, the moisture resistance of this fluid wears down, losing efficacy. This means that the fluid absorbs water, and sometimes, air. 

When air is trapped in the brake fluid, the brake pedal will have a spongy feel and can give way at any time, resulting in an inability to stop. If, then, you’re attempting to bleed your own brakes, you need to ensure that you bleed them properly. It’s with that in mind that we present the following information.

Here’s How to Bleed Brakes at Home

Ideal Auto is here to help with your DIY car care questions. So, how do you bleed brakes? The first thing to know is that you will not want to attempt this by yourself. You’ll also need all the right supplies, which include brake fluid, a box-end wrench, a fluid holder and tubing, and an assistant to help you. Once you have all of the above, you will do the following:

Step 1: 

Ensure you have the right brake fluid by checking it against your car’s owner’s manual. Your recommended brake fluid replacement intervals should also be listed there.

Step 2: 

Jack up your car and make sure it’s on secure, solid, level ground. 

Step 3: 

Locate the four caliper bleeding screws and loosen them. If you cannot untighten these, do *not* force them. Instead, spray them with penetrating oil and wait about half an hour. Then, try again. (If a screw strips or snaps, DO NOT go any further — bring your car to a service center right away.)

Step 4: 

After the screws are loosened, tighten them again. Bleeding your brakes is a slow process and you need to bleed one brake at a time; the other three screws need to be tight to avoid air bubbles. 

Step 5: 

Locate your brake master cylinder reservoir’s brake fluid level, usually located under-the-hood. Ensure that your car has the appropriate amount of fluid. While you’re bleeding the brakes, you’ll want to be sure that you leave the master cylinder cap unscrewed but rest it on top of the reservoir. Next, bleed the brake furthest from the master cylinder. Check your owner’s manual or ask a brake expert for guidance as this is usually the case, but some cars require a different order of brake bleeding.

Step 6: 

Put a piece of clear tubing that’s around ¼ inches in diameter over the first bleeder screw. Then put the other end into a fluid collection reservoir — even an old plastic bottle could do nicely. You can also buy a brake bleeding kit. The idea is that you want a piece of tubing that is long enough to put the container above the bleeder screw’s height so air caught in the tube won’t move back into the caliper.

Step 7: 

It is during this step that you’ll want to bring in your trusty assistant. Turn the car off. Then have your assistant pump the brake pedal several times until they feel resistance pushing back against the pedal. Tell them to keep pressure on the pedal. 

Next, open the bleeder screw a little. Fluid should move through the tube and the pedal will start dropping closer to the floor. Make sure your assistant keeps on applying pressure to the brake pedal.

Step 8: 

Have your helper tell you right away as soon as the pedal has nearly reached the floor. Then, close the bleeder screw immediately. Next, check the fluid level in the master fluid reservoir. You might need to add more fluid to top off. 

Step 9: 

Repeat steps seven and eight about five times for the same bleeder screw, or until the fluid stream no longer has any air bubbles in it. 

Step 10: 

Repeat steps seven through nine on the other three bleeder screws in the correct order for your vehicle — normally starting with the screw further away from the master cylinder and moving to the one closest to it. 

Step 11: 

After you’ve finished bleeding your brakes, tell your helper to apply the brakes, then quickly release the pedal. While they do that, watch the fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir inside your vehicle’s engine bay. If the fluid is bubbling a lot, there’s likely still air in the system and you’re not done with the job yet. That said, if the fluid is moving only a little bit, then you’ve bled the brakes fully. 

Step 12: 

Tighten each of the bleeder screws fully, but don’t use all of your strength — you just want to apply enough pressure to make sure they’re secure. Then, put the calipers back on.

Ideal Auto is Your DIY Car Care Source

Looking to learn more information about other pertinent DIY car care topics? We can help! Ideal Auto is your DIY car care source near New Town. Just see what our customers are saying about us!

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