Within 10,000 miles of driving, you hit your brakes approximately 60,000 to 70,000 times. Despite being important for your safety, brake fluid is widely regarded as the most neglected fluid in your vehicle. Replacing your brake fluid is an easy procedure you can do yourself. Here are the tools you need: brake fluid, brakes for your car, brake bleed pumps, catch bottles, gloves, rags and safety goggles. I am Larry Kosilla, Pro Detailler and Trainer for the last fifteen years, but I am a student when it comes to. Follow me because experts teach me how to diagnose, fix and repair cars Autoblog Ranched.
How often should brake fluid be changed?
It depends on the type of vehicle you drive, how you drive and the climate you are in. The latter can be a really big factor for your brake fluid. There are different types of brake fluid that have different boiling points, so be sure to replace the old one with the same grade or liquid suitable for your driving purpose (for example some liquids are good for track duty). Check your owner’s manual for more information specific to your vehicle. In our case, we are using DOT 4, easily available in any auto parts store.
Brake bleeding two ways
As I came to learn, there are two main types of brake bleeding techniques. The two-person procedure, known as “pedal bleeding,” is when one person is pumping the brakes and the other is bleeding at the brake line at the same time. But today, I will learn the quick and easy method of one person known as “pressure bleeding”. The goal of bleeding at the break line is to squeeze or push old fluid without returning any air to the system. If air enters the system, it can be a big problem.
How the brakes work and why the bleeding brakes make a difference
The brakes are hydraulic, which means that when you put your foot on the brake pedal, the brake fluid, which does not compress easily under this pressure, transfers the paddle ball to the calipers through the brake line, which presses the rotors and stops the car. If air enters the system, either through a bad brake leak mechanism or a leaky brake line, the paddle force compresses the air, not the liquid. This is why the brakes can sometimes feel squeaky and don’t stop as they should.
How it started
Before opening the brake fluid cap, clean the surrounding area so that no dirt accidentally enters the system. Keep in mind that brake fluid will damage the paint during contact, so wear gloves, protect your eyes and be sure to cover the paint and avoid any spots. Now, take off the cap and use a turkey buster to remove most of the old liquid from the master cylinder. Do not remove all liquids. Leaving some liquid in the master cylinder will help prevent air bubbles from entering the system.
Next, use a tool called Power Bleeder, which uses pressurized brake fluid to force air and old fluids out of your brake line. Simply pour your designated brake fluid into the pressure tank, attach the screw cap to the brake reservoir, and use a hand pump to push the system about 15 pounds into the gauge. With the pressure of the brake system, now is the time to go to a corner of the car farthest from the master cylinder. Attach the brake bleed catch bottle to the caliper lead valve, located on or near the caliper.
Now you always start with the caliper farthest from the master cylinder. In our case, it is the passenger side rear. Temporary bottles can be made at home, but for ten to twelve dollars online, these bottles are airtight, have a magnet and a protection line that are well priced. Depending on the wrench you are using, it may be necessary to put the hose in place before attaching it. Tightly attach the hose, open the bleeder valve until you can see the old brake fluid dripping out of the system and into your catch bottle.
Look for clear liquids and air and repeat
Watch the brake fluid change from an old brown to a new or clear color, the line filled with new fluid. Then, close the valve, no need to tighten here, just snag. Make sure your power bleed has enough pressure and brake fluid to continue. You will probably need to give it a few pumps to add more pressure up to 15 pounds. Be sure to check your power bleeder after each corner, you want to avoid running out of brake fluid during bleeding as it will inadvertently add air to your system. Repeat this process on the back of the driver’s side, then on the front of the passenger’s side, and finally on the driver’s side closest to the master cylinder, in that order. Keep in mind that some high-performance calipers have multiple bleeder valves attached, so contact the manufacturer for the recommended bleeding sequence or suggested tips. When you have completed the four angles, check to make sure your pedals are firm before driving.
If not, repeat the process until a stiff paddle returns. Then, slowly release the pressure from the power bleeder, then open the bleeder cap, top the master cylinder reservoir with brake fluid, and replace the cap. And remember, brake fluid contains polythene glycol, which is found in some paint solvents and is extremely corrosive. Be sure to remove your gloves before getting in the car or touching the paint as you may have some old brake fluid left in them which will probably quickly re-color the brake flash. As soon as the project is completed, we have all the fluids used that need to be disposed of now. Be sure to do it properly. Check with your local auto parts store to see if they recycle, or if they can take you to a local collection facility. For more videos on car repair, visit autoblog.com/wrenched. I thank Larry Kosilla from ammonyc.com for visiting, as always.
See us all Autoblog Ranched Video of more tips on how to diagnose, fix and repair a car from professional dealer Larry Kosila. While you’re at it, watch the video series of Larry’s other car cleaning and maintenance Autoblog Details!