How to Bleed Brakes

Mechanic Adjusting Brake Pad


Your brakes are one of the most important parts of your vehicle, and brake service is made up of a variety of smaller repairs that keep the overall system fine tuned. One of those repairs is brake bleeding. Brake bleeding is the process of removing air that’s been trapped in the hydraulics of your vehicle’s brake system. But you may still be wondering how to bleed brake lines.

The process isn’t too hard, but it can be time consuming. If you don’t know your way around a car, or you don’t consider yourself “handy,” scheduling an appointment at the Auffenberg Dealer Group service center isn’t a bad idea. If you want to learn how to bleed brakes by yourself, keep reading, and we’ll show you everything you need to know to keep safely driving on O'Fallon streets!

Why Should You Bleed Your Brakes?

Bleeding your vehicle’s brakes may sound like something serious, but it’s actually a fairly routine part of caring for your car’s brakes. But why do you need to do it? Well, with time, the moisture resistance of brake fluid wears down, and the fluid can begin to absorb water. That water can evaporate, or other air can also get into the brake system. This will cause the brake pedal to feel “soft” or “spongy” as the hydraulic system is no longer operating properly. When you bleed the brakes, you remove the trapped air and give your brake pedal a firmer feel as you drive around Caseyville.

How to Bleed Brakes By Yourself

Before you attempt to bleed your brakes at home, you need to gather the necessary materials. These include:

  • Brake Fluid
  • A Box-End Wrench
  • A Fluid Holder and Tubing
  • An Assistant to help

Once you have the necessary materials, simply follow the steps below and you will have bled your brakes:

Step 1:

First, check your owner’s manual to make sure you have the correct brake fluid. There are many different types of brake fluid, so it’s important to know which is right for your vehicle. The owner’s manual will also tell you what the replacement intervals are for brake fluid.

Step 2:

On solid and level ground, jack up your car. Remove all of the wheels.

Step 3:

Next, find the four caliper bleeding screws and loosen them. (If they don’t loosen immediately, don’t twist hard with the wrench. Instead, spray the screw with penetrating oil and wait about 30 minutes. Then, give it another try. If the screw strips or snaps, don’t go any further — bring your car to our service center right away.)

Step 4:

After the screws are loosened, tighten them again. Bleeding your brakes is a slow process and you need to bleed one brake at a time; the other three screws need to be tight to avoid air bubbles.

Step 5:

Pop the hood and check the master cylinder reservoir’s brake fluid level. Make sure your car has the appropriate amount of fluid. While you’re bleeding the brakes, leave the master cylinder cap unscrewed but still resting on top of the reservoir. To start, you’ll want to bleed the brake furthest from the master cylinder, but your vehicle may require a different order. You can check your owner’s manual or ask a technician for guidance.

Step 6:

Secure the end of a piece of clear tubing (about 1/4 inches in diameter) over the first bleeder screw. Put the other end of the tubing into a receptacle of some sort, such as a plastic bottle. You can also purchase a cheap brake bleeding kit from any auto store — or order one online — that’ll have these items. In any case, the tubing needs to be long enough that you can place the catch container above the bleeder screw’s height. This way, any air caught in the tube won’t move back into the brake caliper.

Step 7:

You’ll need an assistant for this next step. Make sure the car engine is off, and ask your assistant to pump the brake pedal several times until they feel resistance pushing back against the pedal. Instruct them to keep pressure on the pedal. Meanwhile, open the bleeder screw a bit. Fluid will move through the tube and the pedal will start dropping closer to the floor. Make sure your assistant continues to apply pressure.

Step 8:

Have your helper notify you immediately before the pedal reaches the floor. When they do, close the bleeder screw right away. Then, inspect the fluid level in the master fluid reservoir. You may need to add fresh fluid.

Step 9:

Repeat the previous two steps about five times at the same bleeder screw, or until the fluid stream no longer has any bubbles. 

Step 10:

Then, repeat steps 7, 8, and 9 on the other three bleeder screws in the correct order — starting with the screw further away from the master cylinder and moving to the one closest to it.

Step 11:

After you’ve finished bleeding your brakes, instruct your helper to apply the brakes, then quickly release the pedal. While they do that, watch the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir. If the fluid is bubbling significantly, there’s still air in the system and you’re not quite done. However, if the fluid is moving only slightly, you’ve bled the brakes fully.

Step 12:

Before putting the wheels back on your car, tighten each of the bleeder screws. Again, don’t use all of your strength — just apply enough pressure to make sure they’re secure.

Come to Auffenberg Dealer Group and Get Brake Service!

Did you successfully bleed your brakes, or does your car’s brake pedal still have a spongy feel when you press it? Or maybe you’ve realized that you would rather have someone else do it? Schedule service with us, and we’ll be able to quickly bleed your brake lines for you. We’re proud to offer quality service deals to East St. Louis area customers, so don’t forget to check our service specials either. Still have questions? Contact us, and we’ll be happy to help.

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