How Do You Know Your Brake Bleeding Is Successful?

September 12, 2023

 

Brake fluid is crucial in the braking system by transmitting force from the master cylinder to the vehicle's corners. An essential attribute that enables brake fluid to execute its role effectively is its capacity to retain a liquid form and withstand compression. To ensure the optimal fluid state, numerous enthusiasts have learned the practice of "brake bleeding." However, many have overlooked the question, "Why is this necessary?"

Why Bleed the Brakes?

Brake bleeding involves opening a caliper or wheel cylinder valve to release controlled amounts of brake fluid. Its purpose is to eliminate trapped air that can infiltrate the brake lines. The term "air" signifies compromised seals that allow air or fluid vapor to enter. Both affect braking efficiency, as air can compress within lines, reducing braking effectiveness. Even a small amount of air leads to a soft pedal feel, while excessive air can cause brake failure. Causes include servicing, upgrades, and high temperatures causing fluid boiling and gas release into the brake system.

How to Bleed Brakes

If you're interested in learning the process of brake line bleeding, you'll need a set of materials, including brake fluid, a box-end wrench, a fluid container with tubing, and a helper. Here are the steps to conduct a brake bleeding procedure on your own:

  • Step 1: Begin by consulting your owner's manual to identify the correct brake fluid type and understand the recommended intervals for brake fluid replacement. The manual will also guide the proper sequence for bleeding the brake lines.
  • Step 2: Ensure your vehicle is parked on a level surface, then use a jack to lift the car off the ground and remove all four wheels.
  • Step 3: Locate the four caliper bleeding screws and gently loosen each one. Avoid applying excessive force; if encountering difficulty, apply penetrating oil and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Do not attempt to force the screws, as this could cause damage. Seek professional assistance if screws are stripped or broken.
  • Step 4: Once the screws are loosened, retighten them. It's essential to bleed one brake at a time, meaning only one screw should be loosened at any given moment.
  • Step 5: Open the vehicle's hood and check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir. Ensure the fluid level is at the recommended amount. Leave the master cylinder cap unscrewed while bleeding the brakes. Begin by bleeding the brake that is farthest from the master cylinder.
  • Step 6: Place one end of a clear tube (with a diameter of ¼ inches) over the first bleeder screw. The other end of the tube should lead into a plastic bottle or a brake bleeding kit, which can be obtained from an auto store or online. Ensure the tube's length allows the catch container to be positioned above the bleeder screw's level.
  • Step 7: Turn off the vehicle's engine and ask your assistant to pump the brake pedal until they sense resistance pushing back against the pedal. While they maintain pressure on the pedal, slightly open the bleeder screw. Fluid should flow through the tube, causing the pedal to lower. Confirm that pressure is sustained.
  • Step 8: Your assistant should alert you when the pedal nears the floor. Swiftly close the bleeder screw, then examine the fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir. Add fluid if necessary.
  • Step 9: Repeat steps 7 and 8 five times or until no air bubbles are present in the fluid stream from the bleeder screw.
  • Step 10: Repeat steps 7, 8, and 9 for the remaining three screws in the specified sequence, concluding with the screw closest to the master cylinder.
  • Step 11: After bleeding all brakes, ask your assistant to apply and quickly release the brakes. Inspect the reservoir fluid for any bubbles. Minimal fluid movement indicates a successful procedure.
  • Step 12: Tighten each bleeder screw securely, then reattach the wheels to your vehicle.

Mastering the art of brake bleeding isn't a complex endeavor. Nevertheless, it demands patience and determination to ensure the successful completion of the task.

How to Ensure Your Brake Bleeding Is Successful

Understanding and adhering to the guidelines for bleeding brakes is one aspect. Yet, achieving successful and efficient brake bleeding is a separate matter altogether. However, there's no need for concern, as we're here to assist you. We'll offer our top recommendations for effectively removing air bubbles from the brake system during the brake bleeding process.

#1. Check Your Manufacturer's Recommendations

Vehicles vary in terms of bleeding sequences, making it advisable to consult the owner's manual to determine the accurate order.

Bleeding brakes in an incorrect sequence could potentially result in air retention within the brake line. This has the potential to negatively impact your car's braking efficiency.

#2. Ask for Help

In many instances, an extra pair of hands proves invaluable. When undertaking brake bleeding, having one or two friends around can significantly reduce both the time and effort required for the car owner. Remember, you'll need someone to operate the pedal.

Furthermore, this assistance can serve as a safeguard against potential mishaps. So, asking for a little help doesn't seem like a bad idea, does it?

#3. Ignore The Bleed Block

Brake bleeding is ideally performed using a bleed block, yet skipping this step can significantly expedite the process, which is particularly advantageous when time is of the essence.

However, the driver must be cautious while addressing air bubbles near the brake pads. Any contact between the brake fluid and the pads can render the pads ineffective. Additionally, be mindful of brake fluid levels. As caliper pistons extend during the bleeding process, fluid may become overfilled. Releasing excess fluid becomes necessary to facilitate piston retraction.

Although not without risks, this time-efficient approach can be quite potent when speed is a priority.

#4. Protect Your Surrounding

DOT brake fluid possesses a high level of aggressiveness, particularly towards flooring. Spills of this corrosive fluid can rapidly damage carpets and even laminate wood surfaces. Therefore, if you opt to learn the brake bleeding process in your kitchen or living room, it's important to safeguard your environment. Placing a few layers of newspapers or mats can serve as effective measures to prevent any unwanted consequences.

#5. Degas Your Brake Fluid

During the brake bleeding process, it is crucial to perform degassing, which involves the elimination of small air bubbles.

Mechanics are familiar with this method as it effectively expels most of the air from newly introduced brake fluid. While some drivers might not perceive its significance, degassing is actually the primary motive behind bleeding the brakes.

#6. Always Remember To Clean Up

Lastly, but certainly not of lesser importance, is the cleanup phase. This tip is paramount, considering that cleaning up afterward often becomes a pressing concern.

To wrap up the process seamlessly, it's imperative to meticulously wipe down the brake surfaces. This action will effectively eliminate any residual fluid. Our recommendation involves using paper towels for initial wiping and a damp cloth to thoroughly clean the area.

Final Take Away

One common issue that many face is: "brake pedal goes to floor after bleeding." This occurs when air is trapped in the brake lines, reducing braking performance. If you encounter this problem, it's crucial to address it promptly by re-bled the brakes to ensure their optimal functionality.

Remember that brake bleeding is an important safety procedure. If you're not comfortable performing it yourself, it's recommended to have a professional mechanic handle the task to ensure the brakes are bled properly, and the vehicle is safe to drive.

 

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