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Noticing your car isn’t slowing down as you expect when you pull down the brakes? It might be because the air bubbles got access to your brake system.
Wait, you don’t need to seek professional help if you need to bleed the brakes. Don’t worry, fixing this issue doesn’t require you to be a repairman.
Let’s look into things that cause the air getting into the braking system and how to bleed brakes by yourself without wasting hundreds of dollars.
What Is Brake Bleeding?
At first, when I heard about this issue, I thought is it something to do with blood? But then I did some research and learned that it refers to the process of making brake fluid a way to escape through a small valve at the caliper.
It is a common problem of brakes due to the air getting into the braking system. To deal with this issue, you need to bring the air out of the system, and that is why it’s called brake bleeding. So basically, you try to bleed the air out from wherever the air is trapped into the brakes.
When Should You Bleed Brakes?
Not every problem with the brakes is relevant to brake bleeding. You can tell whether you have to work for brakes bleeding or not, by seeing particular signs.
When you pull brakes pedal, does it feel spongy, vague or soft? If yes and the pedal makes it all the way down to the floor, then you need to consider bleeding your car’s brakes.
Also, if you have just changed the brakes or brake pads recently and noticed these signs that are mentioned above, installation of the brakes probably was not good enough which left space for the air to get inside.
Additionally, cars that stay idle and sit in a place for a month or more than that, this idle condition can lead to the issue too. Furthermore, if you are someone who pulls hard brake on a regular basis, your car has a high chance to get affected with the problem.
Have you crossed the milestone of driving 24,000 miles or driving for the last two years without dealing with any problem with the brakes? Then you probably need to consider about bleeding your brakes after seeing the signs of having the air inside of the brake system.
Why Does a Brake Bleed?
Typically, brake lines contain brake fluid which is an incompressible liquid. While on the other hand air bubbles are compressible gas and when it gets into the brake lines, it reduces hydraulic pressure to the extent that it feels squishy when you pull the brakes.
Squishy-feeling isn’t the only problem, the air interrupts into the timing also, and the car does not stop whenever the driver wants it to. It delays braking to some extent.
How Does Air Make Its Way to the Braking System?
Likewise, every problem, there are reasons. Here is no exception with the brakes.
The environment plays a significant role in making brakes victim to the problem. Intensive heat, oxidation, and moisture are the common culprits behind getting air into the system.
But mostly, it is caused due to the intense temperature that boils brake fluid components allowing gasses/air to release into the brake hydraulic system.
In addition to that, DOT brake fluids attract water that lowers the fluid’s boil temperature and makes it easy for air to get inside.
How to Bleed Your Car’s Brake
It is fine if you are not a professional. If you have a little knowledge of how to screw and unscrew nuts and bolts and disassemble and assemble things, you can do the fixing yourself. Hang tight because you are going to save hundreds of dollars today.
Things you will need:
- a box-end wrench of 7.9mm
- Brake fluid of about 1 pint
- 12-inch long clear plastic tubing
- A can of brake cleaner
- An assistant
- Disposable bottles
Clean Old Fluid From the Cylinder Reservoir
The very first thing you need to do is to find the master cylinder reservoir. You will find it in the brake pedal inside the engine compartment. if you are not able to locate it then consult with a mechanic or search on YouTube.
Once you find the master cylinder reservoir, you need to remove its cap. Suck out the old inky fluid with the help of a clean turkey baster as much as you can. Put this fluid into a plastic bottle and label the old brake fluid so that you do not get confused with other fluid.
Clean the reservoir further with a lint-free rag. You can also clean up the spilled fluid with soap and water or a brake cleaner fluid. Do not let it fall completely into the reservoir.
The reason for sucking out the old fluid is to make sure only the clean fluid will make its way into the lines.
Fill the Cylinder With New Clean Brake Fluid
Now it’s time to pour clean brake fluid in the cylinder. You will see a filling line in the reservoir when you fill it.
Ensure that, the cylinder does not pull air during the entire process. Therefore, you need to periodically refill it when needed.
After each filling, you must tighten the cap of the reservoir so that the negative pressure during bleeding cannot cause any fluid shooting out from the reservoir.
Pump the Brake Pedal
At this point, you need to pump the brake pedal for 15 times. It will charge the lines through clean new brake fluid. Although it doesn’t remove any air within the lines, it ensures the right amount of pressure when you start bleeding the lines.
Loosen the Bleeder Regulators or Valves
If you do not know the position of the valves in your car, go through car’s manual or search on YouTube to locate the precise location.
Typically, valves are right behind each tire of the brake scheme. So, to get access to the valves, consider removing the tires. They look different depending on the brake types.
Take a box end wrench of 7.9mm that fits well to the bolt of the bleeder. Do not use a crescent wrench. Now, try to loosen the valves.
If you struggle, a little sprayed or drizzled oil can make things easy for you. Spray or drizzle the oil on the bolts a day before starting the process.
If you do not find any luck using oil, then you need to seek professional help only regarding loosening the valves. Because you do not want to spend money on a costly repairing.
The Order for Bleeding
Here comes the tricky part. You can find the information in the manual or online regarding from which tire you should start the bleeding process. However, if you do not find any information, start from the furthest wheel from the cylinder reservoir to the nearest one.
Bleeding in the correct order will make sure the air is being steadily bled from the furthest line when there is no air left within the lines.
Bleeding Each Brake Lines
It is recommended to lift the car up to easily get access to the bleeder screws. Park the car on a plain surface and chock the wheels using a jack.
It would be a lot more comfortable if you remove the tires first. The jack should be on the frame, instead paneling.
Place a spacer to avoid the pedal from touching the floor and causing the cylinder to leak. Now, hook a hose with the bleeder bolt. Make sure it is far away from the reservoir.
Fill a plastic bottle or jar with clean brake fluid and put another end of the tube into it. It will prevent the air to return into the brake lines.
Ask your assistant to get into the car and press the brake pedal and hold it there. Call him down back and forth and ensure he is pressing the brake when needed.
Then, quarterly turn bleeder bolts to its left. It will make the air and old fluid going all the way down the tubing to the bottle.
Note that, pressing the brake will sink when you unlock bleeder bolt with the quarter turn. It is perfectly okay, and your assistant should keep the pressure and hold down until it stops.
Ask him to keep on holding the brake down until you tighten the screw. Close the valve by turning to the quarter right. It will push the pressure outwards and nothing will make its way back into the line after releasing the brake.
Now, you can ask your assistant to release the brake. That is how you complete a cycle of bleeding. It takes up to 8 to 10 cycles to completely clean and makes the line flawless.
Keep repeating the process until you see clear fluid coming from the bleeder tube. And, you should tap off the reservoir with clean fluid after every five times of cycling. Make sure the reservoir doesn’t get too low. Otherwise, it will suck air into the cylinder.
Maintain the order correctly and repeat the process on other brakes. The next brake to bleed should be the one furthest one from the reservoir cylinder. Do not leave any brakes or the air bubbles or the air may move to another line.
How to Bleed ABS Brakes Without a Scan Tool
Although ABS brakes are different from conventional brakes, the process of bleeding is the same. Most people prefer to bleed ABS brakes with a scan tool. However, you can bleed it without using one.
If you can figure out how to bleed typical brakes, then you are good to go with ABS brakes. Make sure you see some video tutorial on YouTube before jumping on to the process.
Was the task too difficult? I guess not. Not every repairing requires you to spend a good amount of money on.
However, if you are someone who didn’t do any repairing before, you should not take any risk with the braking system, instead seek professional help.