How To Bleed Brakes By Yourself With and Without Special Tools

When you are first starting out as a home based mechanic you often find yourself in a position of working alone and sometimes without all the proper tools. However, a shadetree mechanic quickly learns how to get by with what they have. Many jobs can be done without the perfect tool for the job although it does usually make it much easier.

Brake Bleeder

What Does It Mean To “Bleed The Brakes”?

“Bleeding the brakes” refers to the process of removing air from the brake system. Air in the brake system can reduce braking performance and cause a soft or spongy feel in the brake pedal. Bleeding the brakes helps to restore the proper brake feel and performance by removing the air from the system and ensuring that only brake fluid is present.

The Typical Process Of Bleeding Brakes

The process of bleeding the brakes typically involves the following steps:

  • Locate the brake bleed valve: Each brake caliper or wheel cylinder has a bleed valve, which is used to release the brake fluid and air from the system.
  • Attach a clear tube to the bleed valve: A clear plastic tube is attached to the bleed valve to catch the brake fluid as it is released. The other end of the tube is placed in a container to catch the fluid.
  • Have a helper press the brake pedal: While one person operates the brake pedal, another person opens the bleed valve to allow the brake fluid and air to escape. The brake pedal should be pressed and released several times to ensure that all the air is removed from the system.
  • Close the bleed valve: After the brake pedal has been pressed and released several times, the bleed valve is closed to prevent the brake fluid from escaping.
  • Repeat the process for each brake: The process is repeated for each brake caliper or wheel cylinder, starting with the brake farthest from the master cylinder and working toward the closest.

How To Bleed Brakes By Yourself Without Special Tools

Bleeding brakes typically requires two people and special tools, such as a brake bleed kit or vacuum pump, to remove air from the brake system and ensure proper brake performance. However, if you don’t have access to these tools, you can still bleed your brakes using a simple gravity method, although it may be more time-consuming and less efficient than using a brake bleed kit or vacuum pump.

Here’s how to bleed brakes using the gravity method:

  • Gather supplies: You’ll need a clear plastic tube, a container to catch the brake fluid, and fresh, clean brake fluid.
  • Locate the brake bleed valve: Each brake caliper or wheel cylinder has a bleed valve, which is used to release the brake fluid and air from the system.
  • Attach the plastic tube to the bleed valve: The clear plastic tube is attached to the bleed valve to catch the brake fluid as it is released. The other end of the tube is placed in a container to catch the fluid.
  • Fill the brake fluid reservoir: Open the brake fluid reservoir and fill it with fresh, clean brake fluid.
  • Open the bleed valve: Open the bleed valve to allow the brake fluid and air to escape. As the brake fluid flows out of the valve, air will be displaced and rise to the top of the brake fluid reservoir.
  • Repeat the process for each brake: The process is repeated for each brake caliper or wheel cylinder, starting with the brake farthest from the master cylinder and working toward the closest.

Note: This method is less efficient and may require more time and patience than using a brake bleed kit or vacuum pump, as it relies on gravity to remove the air from the system. Additionally, if you don’t have access to a helper, you may need to use a piece of wood or other object to keep the brake pedal pressed down while you open and close the bleed valve.

Tools That Make Brake Bleeding Easy

Bleeding brakes with a vacuum brake bleeder is a relatively simple process that can be done with one person. Here’s how to do it:

  • Gather supplies: You’ll need a vacuum brake bleeder, fresh, clean brake fluid, and a container to catch the brake fluid.
  • Locate the brake bleed valve: Each brake caliper or wheel cylinder has a bleed valve, which is used to release the brake fluid and air from the system.
  • Attach the vacuum brake bleeder: The vacuum brake bleeder is attached to the bleed valve using the appropriate adapter.
  • Fill the brake fluid reservoir: Open the brake fluid reservoir and fill it with fresh, clean brake fluid.
  • Create a vacuum: Turn on the vacuum brake bleeder to create a vacuum in the brake system. This will draw brake fluid and air out of the system and into the brake bleeder.
  • Open the bleed valve: Open the bleed valve to allow the brake fluid and air to escape into the brake bleeder. The vacuum created by the brake bleeder will pull the fluid and air out of the system and into the brake bleeder.
  • Repeat the process for each brake: The process is repeated for each brake caliper or wheel cylinder, starting with the brake farthest from the master cylinder and working toward the closest.
  • Check the brake fluid level: After each brake has been bled, check the brake fluid level in the reservoir to make sure it stays full. If necessary, add more fresh, clean brake fluid to the reservoir.

Note: The process of using a vacuum brake bleeder is quick and efficient, and it can help to minimize the mess that can occur when bleeding brakes manually. Additionally, using a vacuum brake bleeder can reduce the time and effort required to bleed the brakes, as only one person is needed to perform the task.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vacuum Air Brake Bleeder Kit

It’s important to use fresh, clean brake fluid when bleeding the brakes, as contaminated or old brake fluid can cause issues in the brake system. Bleeding the brakes should only be performed by a trained professional, as improper bleeding can cause reduced braking performance or other issues.