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How To Bleed Brakes / Flush Brake Fluid

Brake Bleeding

Brake fluid needs to be changed (flushed) for three reasons:

Procedures

1-2 hours

Tools required:

Procedure:

  1. Place the vehicle on jack stands on a flat surface. If you don't have enough stands you can do one wheel at a time. Remove the wheels.
  2. Syphon off the old brake fluid in the master cylinder reservoir under the hood.
  3. Fill the reservoir with new brake fluid (don't reuse old fluid as it holds moisture and will corrode your brake system).
  4. Start with the brake farthest from the master cylinder, usually rear wheel, passenger side. Pull off the rubber cover on the bleeder valve. Attach the aquarium air line to the nipple on the bleeder.
  5. Have your assistant pump the brake pedal up and down 3-4 times, then hold the pedal down fairly hard.
  6. Open the bleeder, let fluid flow out through the air line into a waste container. (preferrably a clear bottle so you can see any air bubbles escaping the system). When the fluid stops and your assistant's foot hits the firewall (brake pedal all the way down), close the bleeder valve immediately!
  7. Go to step #5 above and drain more fluid out of the bleeder valve until clean fluid comes out. Check the master cylinder everytime and top it up as necessary. This procedure uses lots of fluid.
  8. Now move to the rear brake on the driver's side. Go to step #5 and repeat the same procedures above until clean fluid comes out of the bleeder valve and no bubbles.
  9. Next is the front brake, passenger side, same procedure.
  10. Last is the driver's side front brake, same procedure.
  11. When finished check for any leaks, remount rubber covers on the bleeder valve nipples. Remount all wheels, re-torque lug nuts after 50-100 miles of driving.
  12. Start vehicle and depress the brake pedal. It should feel much less spongy than before this procedure. If not, there is air in the system, start over. Bleed everything again.

Note: if you assistant releases the brake pedal before you can close the bleeder valve then air will be introduced into the brake lines. This is no good! Before you start tell your assistant you will tell him/her PUMP, HOLD DOWN, RELEASE commands.

That's it, you're done. Congratulate yourself on saving some cash instead of handing it over to a mechanic.


You can also do this procedure by yourself using a hand operated "power" bleeder. Basically this is a hand-pump device with a brake fluid reservoir. You siphon off as much oil as you can from the master cylinder, then connect this device with a hose to the wheel cylinder/brake caliper bleeder nipple, open the nipple and pump the unit to force fresh brake fluid up to the master cylinder. Repeat for each wheel and occasionally drain the master cylinder of old oil.

Peter Ferlow from FordF150.net assisted in producing this article. Thanks!