Tutorial: How to Bleed Your Brakes

The main purpose for bleeding your car brakes is to relieve any air pocket that may have built up in the brake lines or brake master cylinder. This could be from changing your EBC brakes, low brake fluid, replacing your brake fluid, or if the brake fluid is fairly old. Getting the air out of the brake fluid will restore the brakes to their full strength. Air pockets will create uneven braking.

The first step to bleeding your brakes is to jack the vehicle up and remove all four wheels. You need to be able to access each brake rotor or brake drum where the brake lines are located. A solid jack and four jack stands would make this job very easy. It is ideal to bleed all four corners at the same time. If you are upgrading to EBC brakes, removing the wheels is necessary as well.

If you are replacing your brake fluid, this is the right time to remove the master cylinder cap and empty the brake fluid. This can be done using a turkey baster. Suck out all of the old fluid and when it is removed, clean out the inside of any contaminants. Make sure not to spill any brake fluid on the paint, as it will damage it. At this point, pump the brakes about 15 times or so. This will push the brake fluid towards the calipers.

Bleeding your brakes must be done in specific order. Some cars require the brake farthest from the master cylinder to be done first, but others are different. This information can be found in your vehicle owner’s manual. Once you have figured out which one needs to be bled first, proceed with finding the bleeder valve. If they are very tight, you can spray some penetrating oil to loosen them up. Do not take the bleeder valves off; just loosen them so they still remain closed. These are located on the brake calipers.

Filling the master cylinder with the correct brake fluid is a must. The owner’s manual will have this information for you. Fill it to the correct level, while keeping the cap on, but unscrewed. Grab a piece of clear tubing and fit it on the bleeder valve. On the other end of the tube, place a catch can or small container to catch the brake fluid. To avoid air from entering the tube, place the container above the brake caliper.

The next steps will require a helper. This helper needs to sit in the driver’s seat and depress the brake pedal while you release the bleeder valve. This process is done slowly by the helper. Once the brake pedal is depressed to the floor and cannot go any further, close the bleeder valve. The catch can or container should have dirty brake fluid compared to the new fluid. You will also notice air pockets flowing through the clear tube. This is a good sign.

Once you have closed the bleeder valve, check the brake master cylinder and see how much fluid is there. If it is below the fill line, then add some more brake fluid. You and your helper will have to repeat this process until clean brake fluid is flowing into the catch can or container. This can take anywhere from 5 to 10 times, depending on how old the brake fluid is, or how much there is.

Move from one brake to the next, making sure to tighten back up the bleeder valves once you are finished. Once finished, leave the wheels off and double check the brake master cylinder. While your helper pumps the brakes, check the fluid to see if any vibrations or eruptions occur. This will happen if there is still air in the brake lines. You will then have to go back and continue to bleed the brakes again until the air pockets are gone. Also, never let the brake fluid in the master cylinder get too low during this process. If it gets too lower, it will suck in air and you will have trouble. Always check the level after every step.

Once you have double checked that all brake bleeder valves are tight and the master cylinder fluid is free of air pockets, put your wheels back on and remove the jack stands. You have now bled your brakes and will experience the top-notch stopping power. Fresh brake fluid combined with EBC brakes is the perfect setup.

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