Bleeding Your Brake Lines
Everyone knows that there comes a time when you have to change the oil on your car, if you don't you run the risk of causing serious engine problems and damage. In fact, one time I...ah well, we don't need to get into that. The point is that you should also periodically change your brake fluid. This process includes bleeding your brake lines.
Bleeding your brake lines is a project anyone can do, and takes a relatively short amount of time to accomplish. You need a few items before you begin, but once you have these you are good to go.
Tools and Materials:
- A helper
- Plastic hose
- Plastic bottle (preferably an empty milk jug)
- Replacement brake fluid (DOT 3 or DOT 4, check your owner's manual for the proper type and amount)
- Adjustable wrench
- Screwdriver set
- Jack stands
- Brake cleaner
- Raise. Raise your entire car. Either have your car put onto a lift or you use jack stands, always exercising caution.
- Remove. Remove all of the tires and place them off to the side. Keep the parts for each tire located with that tire so you don't loose anything.
- Bleed. Start with the wheel furthest from the driver's side (which would be the right rear) and work your way toward the driver position in this order: right rear, left rear, right front, left front. When you get to that location you need to find the brake assembly (for some vehicles it is going to be calipers and for others it is going to be drums). Look near the rear of the assembly and you should see a screw., which is called the bleeder screw. Remove the rubber cap from this screw (make sure that you don't lose it). Attach one end of the plastic hose to the bleeder screw (there should be a plastic nipple) and place the other end into the fluid container. While you are doing that have your helper pump the brakes three times, keeping the brakes depressed fully after the third time. Once they have done that, turn the bleeder screw Ľ turn with an adjustable wrench and allow the brake fluid to drain fully. Close the bleeder screw again. Your helper can now release the brakes. Repeat this process at each wheel in the order listed above. This is also a good time to check the brake fluid reservoir. You might need to refill this a few times during the process to ensure that there is no air bubbles in the lines. Once you have bled each wheel, clean the wheel area of any stray brake fluid using the brake cleaner.
- Reassemble. Prior to reassembling everything, double—or triple—check to make sure that you have completely filled the brake fluid reservoir to the manufacturer's recommended level. Reassemble everything but make sure that you are replacing the bleeder screw caps!
- Test. Before you begin driving, take the time to properly test your brakes. Whenever you conduct any major system maintenance you should check to make sure everything is working the right way. In this case, drive slowly around your neighborhood a few times using "stop and go" driving to make sure that brakes are working. The brakes should not feel soft or spongy but properly firm when they are depressed. If not, then try pressing down on the brakes several times to help the fluid move through the system. If that does not work, then check the reservoir levels again.