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How to Bleed Brakes

Mechanic Working On Brakes

Over time, air can get trapped in your vehicle’s brake system, leading to issues that can impact your car’s performance on Birmingham roads. Brake bleeding service is designed to allow that air to escape and can be performed at your preferred local service center any time. However, skilled auto maintenance DIYers might venture to bleed their brake lines at home. Learning how to bleed brakes is definitely more involved than other maintenance tasks and can pose a challenge for even the most experienced car owners. Read on to find out what’s entailed so you can confidently decide whether this is something you can take care of in your own garage. 

Why Bleed the Brake Lines? 

The brake fluid in your car contains moisture resistance properties to prevent moisture from entering and causing rust in the brake system. Over time, the moisture resistance breaks down and the brake fluid may start to absorb water. Another issue that can occur with time is air entering the brake lines; this usually causes the brake pedal to feel soft or spongy. Bleeding the brake lines removes that trapped air, so your brake pedal feels sturdy again. 

How to Bleed Brake Lines

Learning how to bleed brakes by yourself is no small undertaking. The steps below will provide an idea of what to expect if you’re thinking about performing this service in your own Vestavia Hills garage. Before you get started, you will need brake fluid, a box-end wrench, a fluid holder and tubing, and an assistant to help you throughout the process. 

Step 1: 

You may need to top off your brake fluid during this process, so your first step should be to check the owner’s manual to make sure you’ve got the proper type of brake fluid. 

Step 2: 

Jack your car up on level ground, then remove all four wheels.

Step 3: 

Locate the four caliper bleeding screws and loosen them. If you don’t feel the screws loosen immediately, don’t try to force it with the wrench. Spray the screws with penetrating oil and wait 30 minutes. Return to the car to try loosening the screws again. If you still can’t loosen the screws, bring your vehicle to our service center for help.

Step 4: 

Once the screws are loosened, retighten them. You must bleed your brakes one brake at a time, so the screws you’re not currently working with need to be tight to prevent air bubbles. 

Step 5: 

Pop the hood. Check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir. While bleeding the brakes, the master cylinder cap can be left unscrewed, resting atop the reservoir. Bleed the brake furthest from the master cylinder to start (your vehicle might require the brakes to be bled in a different order; your owner’s manual should have this information). 

Step 6: 

Place the end of a ¼-inch-wide section of clear tubing over the first bleeder screw. Place the other end of the tubing into a receptacle. 

Step 7: 

Ask your assistant to pump your brake pedal a few times, continuing until they feel resistance. Once they feel resistance, they should maintain that pressure on the pedal while you open the bleeder screw. Upon doing so, fluid will make its way through the tube and the brake pedal will automatically start dropping near the floor; your assistant should continue to apply pressure. 

Step 8: 

Your assistant should let you know when the pedal is about to reach the floor. At this point, you need to act fast to close the bleeder screw immediately. After doing so, check the brake fluid level in the master fluid reservoir; you might need to top it off with some 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: 

When you’ve completed bleeding the brakes, your assistant will need to press the brake pedal one more time. This time, they can quickly release it instead of holding the pressure. As they do this, monitor the master cylinder reservoir; if the brake fluid is bubbling, there is still air in the system. If it’s only moving slightly but is not bubbling up, then you’ve successfully bled the brakes. 

Step 12: 

Make sure to tighten all bleeder screws again before putting the wheels back on your vehicle. Don’t apply too much pressure, just enough that they’re secure. 

Schedule Brake Service in Hoover

After learning how to bleed brakes by yourself, are you thinking it may be best to leave it to a professional? For trusted brake service near Bessemer, schedule a service visit at Hendrick Chevrolet Hoover! Our service department in Hoover offers rotating service specials on brake service and much more.

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Main 205-383-1619 Sales 205-383-1619
1620 Montgomery Hwy
Hoover, AL 35216
Hendrick Chevrolet Hoover 33.3999, -86.80624.