Two ways to bleed brakes yourself
Two best ways to bleed brakes yourself
There are many ways to bleed brakes yourself, but I’ll show you the two best ways that don’t require expensive tools
What you need to bleed brakes yourself
Handheld vacuum bleeder kit
You can buy a handheld vacuum bleeder kit for under $20 or rent one from an auto parts store. The kit allows you to bleed your brakes without calling in help from a friend.
This Thorstone Brake Bleeder kit from amazon can be used to bleed brakes, master cylinder, clutch slave cylinder and clutch master cylinder. It can also be used to remove brake fluid from the reservoir.
The kit comes with a handheld vacuum pump, vinyl tubing, a catch bottle and bleeder screw rubber fittings.
Two-man bleeder kit
If you decide not to buy or rent a vacuum bleeder kit, then you’ll need a length of 3/16″ and 5/16″ vinyl tubing to fit the bleeder screw. You can use an empty water
bottle as catch bottle or buy a kit from any auto parts store or amazon.
Brake bleeding method 1 — One-person bleeding using a vacuum bleeder tool
A handheld vacuum bleeder is the easiest and most productive way to bleed your brakes. It only takes one person and is easy to do.
1) Rent or buy a handheld vacuum bleeder kit
2) Using the vacuum tool, remove most of the old brake fluid from the master cylinder reservoir
3) Refill the master cylinder reservoir with fresh brake fluid
4) Following the brake bleed sequence shown in the shop manual, remove the protective rubber cap from the bleeder screw. Then loosen the wheel cylinder or caliper bleeder screw at the first wheel in the sequence. Use a box end wrench to avoid stripping the bleeder screw.
5) Attach the tubing and catch bottle to the bleeder screw.
6) Using the hand pump, apply vacuum to the bleeder screw and then open it slightly until you see fluid flowing into the drain tube. Continue pumping until you see fresh fluid coming into the catch bottle.
7) Ignore the air bubbles you see entering the tubing. That is simply air that is being sucked in around the bleeder screw threads.
8) Once you see fresh fluid, close the bleeder screw and tighten.
9) Place the protective rubber cap on the bleeder screw
Brake bleeding method 2 — Two-person brake bleeding procedure
1) Using a turkey baster or any type of suction device, remove most of the old fluid from the master cylinder reservoir.
2) Refill the master cylinder reservoir with fresh fluid
3) Following the brake bleed sequence shown in the shop manual, remove the protective rubber cap from the bleeder screw. Then loosen the wheel cylinder or caliper bleeder screw at the first wheel in the sequence. Use a box end wrench to avoid stripping the bleeder screw.
4) Connect one end of the drain tube to the bleeder screw and the other to a catch bottle.
5) Have a friend pump the brake pedal until it is firm. Tell them the pedal will go to the floor once you open the bleeder valve and that they should hold the pedal on the floor until you tell them to release it
6) Open the bleeder valve and drain the fluid.
7) Close the bleeder valve and tell the friend to release the brake pedal.
8) Repeat steps 5-7 until you see fresh brake fluid exiting the bleeder screw.
9) To complete the job, have the friend press the brake pedal as you open the bleeder valve and close it before the brake pedal reaches the floor.
10) Tighten the bleeder screw and add the protective cap
What to do if the bleeder screw is seized
Never use an open end wrench on a brake bleeder screw. That’s the single best way to strip the hex flats.
Pin the stuck bleeder screw using a drill bit or rod
1) Choose a drill bit that fits snuggly into the hole in the bleeder screw.
2) Leaving about 1/2″ of the bit extending from the top of the bleeder screw, cut off the rest of the drill bit.
3) Apply rust penetrant to the thread of the bleeder screw.
3) Smack the cut end of the drill bit with a hammer to shock and break up the rust, allowing the rust penetrant to seep into the rusted threads.
For more information on how to remove a rusted brake bleeder screw, see this post
©, 2023 Rick Muscoplat
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