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How To: Bleed your brakes

Discussion in 'Wheels / Tires / Brakes / Suspension (All Gens)' started by Mugen23, Oct 27, 2008.



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  1. Mugen23

    Mugen23 New Member 5+ Year Member

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    How to Bleed Brakes – The Right Way
    by John Comeskey of SPS and James Walker, Jr. of scR motorsports
    StopTech : Balanced Brake Upgrades


    The role of the brake fluid within the braking system is to transfer the force from the master cylinder to the corners of the car…and a vital characteristic of brake fluid that allows it to perform its task properly is its ability to maintain a liquid state and resist compression. In order to keep the fluid in top condition, many enthusiasts have been taught to “bleed their brakes” but many have never stopped to ask the question “why?”


    Why Bleed the Brakes?

    The term "bleeding the brakes" refers to the process in which a small valve is opened at the caliper (or wheel cylinder) to allow controlled amounts of brake fluid to escape the system. (When you think about it, "bleeding" may appear to be a somewhat graphic term, but it aptly describes the release a vital fluid.)

    We bleed the brakes to release air that sometimes becomes trapped within the lines. Technically, "air" only enters the lines if there is a compromise of the system's sealing (as when flex lines are removed or replaced), because when fluid boils, it will instead create "fluid vapor." Vapor in the brake fluid, like air, will create an efficiency loss in the braking system. However, for the sake of simplicity we use the term "air" throughout this article to describe both air and fluid vapor.

    When air (or vapor) becomes present within the lines, it creates inefficiencies within the system because, unlike liquid, air can be compressed. So when enough air fills the lines, input at the pedal merely causes the air to compress instead of creating pressure at the brake corners. In other words, when air is present within the system, the efficiency and effectiveness of the braking system is reduced. Usually, a small amount of air within the brake system will contribute to a "mushy" or "soft" pedal (since less energy is required to compress the air than is required to move fluid throughout the brake lines.) If enough air enters the brake system, it can result in complete brake failure.

    So how does air enter the lines in the first place? Sometimes, it can be the result of a service procedure or an upgrade – such as replacing the stock flex lines with stainless steel braided lines. But often it is the result of high temperatures that cause brake fluid components to boil, thus releasing gasses from the boiling fluid into the brake hydraulic system.


    How-To

    So, now that you understand the need behind bleeding your brakes, let us present just one procedure that can be utilized when servicing your own car. Note that unless you are replacing your master cylinder, the procedure is the same whether you have a vehicle equipped with ABS or not…


    Supplies Required

    You will need the following tools:

    * Box-end wrench suitable for your car's bleeder screws. An offset head design usually works best.
    * Extra brake fluid (about 1 pint if you are just bleeding, about 3 if you are completely replacing).
    * 12-inch long section of clear plastic tubing, ID sized to fit snugly over your car's bleeder screws.
    * Disposable bottle for waste fluid.
    * One can of brake cleaner.
    * One assistant (to pump the brake pedal).




    Vehicle Preparation and Support

    1. Loosen the lug nuts of the road wheels and place the entire vehicle on jackstands. Be sure that the car is firmly supported before going ANY further with this procedure!
    2. Remove all road wheels.
    3. Install one lug nut backward at each corner and tighten the nut against the rotor surface. Note that this step is to limit caliper flex that may distort pedal feel.
    4. Open the hood and check the level of the brake fluid reservoir. Add fluid as necessary to ensure that the level is at the MAX marking of the reservoir. Do not let the reservoir become empty at any time during the bleeding process!




    Bleeding Process


    1. Begin at the corner furthest from the driver and proceed in order toward the driver. (Right rear, left rear, right front, left front.) While the actual sequence is not critical to the bleed performance it is easy to remember the sequence as the farthest to the closest. This will also allow the system to be bled in such a way as to minimize the amount of potential cross-contamination between the new and old fluid.
    2. Locate the bleeder screw at the rear of the caliper body (or drum brake wheel cylinder.) Remove the rubber cap from the bleeder screw – and don't lose it!
    3. Place the box-end wrench over the bleeder screw. An offset wrench works best – since it allows the most room for movement.
    4. Place one end of the clear plastic hose over the nipple of the bleeder screw.
    5. Place the other end of the hose into the disposable bottle.
    6. Place the bottle for waste fluid on top of the caliper body or drum assembly. Hold the bottle with one hand and grasp the wrench with the other hand.
    7. Instruct the assistant to "apply." The assistant should pump the brake pedal three times, hold the pedal down firmly, and respond with "applied." Instruct the assistant not to release the brakes until told to do so.
    8. Loosen the bleeder screw with a brief ¼ turn to release fluid into the waste line. The screw only needs to be open for one second or less. (The brake pedal will "fall" to the floor as the bleeder screw is opened. Instruct the assistant in advance not to release the brakes until instructed to do so.)
    9. Close the bleeder screw by tightening it gently. Note that one does not need to pull on the wrench with ridiculous force. Usually just a quick tug will do.
    10. Instruct the assistant to "release" the brakes. Note: do NOT release the brake pedal while the bleeder screw is open, as this will suck air back into the system!
    11. The assistant should respond with "released."
    12. Inspect the fluid within the waste line for air bubbles.
    13. Continue the bleeding process (steps 11 through 16) until air bubbles are no longer present. Be sure to check the brake fluid level in the reservoir after bleeding each wheel! Add fluid as necessary to keep the level at the MAX marking. (Typically, one repeats this process 5-10 times per wheel when doing a ‘standard' bleed.)
    14. Move systematically toward the driver – right rear, left rear, right front, left front - repeating the bleeding process at each corner. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on the brake fluid reservior! Keep it full!
    15. When all four corners have been bled, spray the bleeder screw (and any other parts that were moistened with spilled or dripped brake fluid) with brake cleaner and wipe dry with a clean rag. (Leaving the area clean and dry will make it easier to spot leaks through visual inspection later!) Try to avoid spraying the brake cleaner DIRECTLY on any parts made of rubber or plastic, as the cleaner can make these parts brittle after repeated exposure.
    16. Test the brake pedal for a firm feel. (Bleeding the brakes will not necessarily cure a "soft" or "mushy" pedal – since pad taper and compliance elsewhere within the system can contribute to a soft pedal. But the pedal should not be any worse than it was prior to the bleeding procedure!)
    17. Be sure to inspect the bleeder screws and other fittings for signs of leakage. Correct as necessary.
    18. Properly dispose of the used waste fluid as you would dispose of used motor oil. Important: used brake fluid should NEVER be poured back into the master cylinder reservoir!




    Vehicle Wrap-Up and Road Test

    1. Re-install all four road wheels.
    2. Raise the entire vehicle and remove jackstands. Torque the lug nuts to the manufacturer's recommended limit. Re-install any hubcaps or wheel covers.
    3. With the vehicle on level ground and with the car NOT running, apply and release the brake pedal several times until all clearances are taken up in the system. During this time, the brake pedal feel may improve slightly, but the brake pedal should be at least as firm as it was prior to the bleeding process.
    4. Road test the vehicle to confirm proper function of the brakes. USE CAUTION THE FIRST TIME YOU DRIVE YOUR CAR AFTER MODIFICATION TO ENSURE THE PROPER FUNCTION OF ALL VEHICLE SYSTEMS!





    How Often do I Need to Bleed My Brakes?

    In closing, here are a few rules of thumb to help you to determine the proper bleeding interval for your particular application:

    1. Under normal operating conditions, and without brake system modifications, typical OEM braking systems have been designed to NOT require bleeding for the life of the vehicle unless the system is opened for repair or replacement. If you're just driving around town or on the highway to work, there is really no need to bleed! There are a few European vehicles which do recommend replacement on a semi-regular basis for other reasons though, so be sure to check in your owner's manual or at your service center for your particular application.
    2. Those who choose to autocross or drive in a sporting manner may choose to upgrade their brake fluid and bleed on an annual basis – this is a good ‘start of the season' maintenance item for low-speed competitors.
    3. If your car sees significant amounts of high-speed braking, or if you choose to participate in driver schools and/or lapping sessions, bleeding prior to each event is a sound decision. More intense drivers at these events may choose to skip right past this step and on to #4…
    4. Finally, dedicated race cars should be bled after every track session.
     
  2. 31dev31

    31dev31 Chillin' Canadian Member Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member

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    :thumbs up Nice write up! I'm going to keep this in mind, I do alot of brakes and brake bleeding at my school's autoshop and all the wannabe muscleheads/jocks are doing it wrong tightening after the pedal is released and break the screws while tightening...:brickwall:
     
  3. Partizan

    Partizan im gay n proud luv my car Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    i gotta do this..
     
  4. immigrant_72

    immigrant_72 immigrant_72 5+ Year Member

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    Nice right up like they said...umm wen r u gonna bleed ur brakes?
    and...change ur leaky caliper..and turbo that s**t haha
     
  5. Mugen23

    Mugen23 New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Thanks when are you going to get that zc?
     
  6. Kaotic_Zeus

    Kaotic_Zeus Most hated man Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member

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    Pretty easy to do if you ask me.
     
  7. Mugen23

    Mugen23 New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Yeah it just takes some time
     
  8. Kaotic_Zeus

    Kaotic_Zeus Most hated man Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member

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    yeah like an hour to two, just depends how much of it you're trying to bleed. I like using a vaccum pump. they sell them for like 30-40 bucks. So you can do it yourself. You can also remove the fluid in the resevoir before actually flushing/bleeding the brakes, so you don't pump that resevoir fluid that was sitting there contaminated into your brakes again.
     
  9. khooper

    khooper New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Always use the manufacturer's recommended brake fluid for your car. Using the wrong fluid (like engine oil) can result in brake failure, which is a very bad thing. If you survive the brake failure you will then have to replace some fairly expensive parts.
     
  10. LowNotSlow

    LowNotSlow Aqua Teen Christmas Force Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member 10+ Year Member

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    An hour or two if your a fucking monkey maybe. It takes less than an hour to flush the entire system.

    Also

    This is wrong. Sequence is important and is noted by the manufacturer. For 7th gens the order is passenger front, passenger rear, driver rear, driver front. There is no set rule that can be followed for every vehicle.

    Also wrong. OEM daily driver or not, brake fluid over time will absorb water and needs to be flushed out. Most dealerships will bleed the brakes every time they replace pads, roughly every 2-3 years.
     
  11. 91civicfreak

    91civicfreak New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    very nice write up!! A+ for you
     
  12. civicsi1215

    civicsi1215 New Member

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    Pumping the brake

    When you are pumping the brake pedal several times does the car have to be on or off??
     
  13. Kensai

    Kensai ♪♫♪♫♪~ Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member

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    I'm sorry but this write-up is pretty poorly written and has a lot of mistakes and misleading statements.

    Here are some mistakes I found just at first glance:

    It is recommended and sometimes absolutely VITAL to depressurize your ABS system by pumping the brakes with the car off up to 50 times.

    Not critical my ass! The sequence is crucial to do the job right and it is NOT always RR,LR, RF, LF. Check your service manual before bleeding to see the correct sequence.

    Or or or...you could be smart about it and use a wire to hang the bottle..

    If you do it right and there are no leaks in the system and the pads/shoes are adjusted propertly, it will make your pedal firm.

    Brakes should be bled AT LEAST every two years, sometimes more often if you do any sort of "competitive" driving and braking. Also check your service manual for brake bleeding intervals.

    [​IMG]

    Btw, whoever bumped this should be hung.
     
  14. qnzbase55

    qnzbase55 New Member 5+ Year Member

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    drum break cylinder

    i was changing the rear breaks pads which are drums of my 99 civic.. and i messed up i took out one of the socket of the drum break cylinder and some break fluid came out >>>I put every thing back together, went to test them out and my break pedal went all the way down to the floor..... my question is should i bleed the break?
     
  15. civexspeedy

    civexspeedy New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    Yes flush/bleed the system completely. The brake system needs to be air and water tight and very clean. You exposed the system to air when you messed with the wheel cylinder. Get a large bottle of brake fluid and be sure to flush the system.
     


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