Blog Car Care Advice How to Bleed Brakes (Step-By-Step Guide + 4 FAQs)
Car Care Advice

How to Bleed Brakes (Step-By-Step Guide + 4 FAQs)

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Does your brake pedal feel spongy? 
Does it take longer than usual to stop your car? 

Over time, brake fluid can lose its moisture resistance. This loss causes air bubbles to develop inside the brake fluid, reducing performance. 

But don’t worry. 
You can fix this with brake bleeding

In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to bleed brakes and highlight what you need to be aware of when you go about doing it. We’ll also cover some FAQs, including the different ways to bleed brakes and when bleeding brakes is not the solution to fixing your car brakes. 

This Article Contains:

Let’s brake in!

How to Bleed Brakes (Step-by-Step)

Bleeding your car brakes requires the right technical know-how. 
If you’re unsure, it’s best to call a certified mechanic who can perform the brake service for you.

But if you wish to do it yourself, here are the steps to bleed brakes: 

Note: We’ve covered the two-person manual method here, but there are other methods to bleed brakes. 

However, before we dive into these steps, there are a few precautions to observe.

Precautions for a Brake Bleed:

Now, let’s dive into how to bleed brakes: 

Step 1: Get the Right Brake Fluid 

The most common fluid is DOT 3, but you should always consult the owner’s manual to get only the specific brake fluid type your vehicle needs. 

Good-quality brake fluid isn’t expensive, and you can easily find it at an auto parts store. You may require two or three 12-ounce cans of new fluid to bleed your brake system.

Step 2: Mount the Car and Remove the Tires

Jack up your vehicle on level, solid ground (preferably a garage floor or driveway). 

Here’s how: 

Step 3: Loosen the Bleeder Screw

Locate each of the four caliper bleeder screws (also called a bleeder valve or caliper bleed screw). You’ll typically find the bleeder screw at the bottom of the brake caliper assembly in a disc brake. 

In drum brakes, it’s on the rear of the backing plate (attached to the wheel cylinder inside the drum brakes). 

The size and location of a hydraulic brake bleeder valve may vary according to the make and model of your vehicle.

Here’s what you do next: 

You’ll bleed one brake at a time, so every other caliper bleed screw should be closed to prevent air bubble entries into the brake system. 

Note: If you snap off or strip a bleeder bolt, stop immediately and call for professional help. 

Step 4: Check the Brake Fluid Level

While bleeding brakes, ensure that the brake fluid reservoir stays full at all times. 

To do that: 

Step 5: Cover the Screw Opening with Tubing

Fit one end of clear plastic tubing (¼-inch in diameter) over the first bleeder screw.

You should start with the most distant brake (passenger rear wheel) from the master cylinder, but some cars require a different order. Check that in your owner’s manual or ask your dealer’s service department.

Now, put the other end of the plastic tubing into a disposable bottle containing some clean brake fluid. This measure will prevent air from being sucked back into the brake caliper, wheel cylinder, or brake master cylinder.

Step 6: Get an Assistant to Engage the Brake Pedal

Ensure that your car’s engine stays off while you bleed brakes. 

Here’s how you should bleed the brake: 

Tip: Place a small block of wood underneath the brake pedal to prevent pushing the pedal more than halfway to the floor. 

Step 7: Repeat On Each Brake 

After you’ve bled your first brake successfully, repeat Step 6 for the remaining brakes. 

In most cars, a brake bleeder sequence starts with the passenger rear wheel, the driver rear wheel, the passenger front, and finally, the driver front. However, always follow your owner’s manual for the correct sequence. 

Also, check the fluid level in the cylinder reservoir after working on each brake bleed. Top it up with clean brake fluid if necessary.  

Once done, securely close each bleed valve and fill the cylinder reservoir with fresh brake fluid.

Next, reinstall the wheels and lower your vehicle to the ground. 

Step 8: Observe The Master Cylinder Reservoir

Ask your partner to press the brake pedal firmly and then release it abruptly

Observe the motion of the fluid in the brake fluid reservoir. A slight agitation in the brake fluid indicates that you’ve done the job right

However, if you notice a significant fluid eruption, the brake system still has some air bubbles. In that case, you‘ll have to repeat the brake bleeding process. 

Let’s go over some questions on bleeding brakes next. 

4 FAQs on Bleeding Brakes 

Here are answers to common questions you might have about the bleeding process: 

1. What are the Other Ways to Bleed Car Brakes?

Other brake bleeding methods include: 

2. When Do I Need to Bleed My Brakes?

A hydraulic brake system works by applying hydraulic pressure as liquid can’t be compressed. However, when air bubbles enter a brake line, and you push the brake pedal, it only compresses the air with minimal force reaching the brake pads. 

When that happens, you get spongy brakes, and you’ll have to bleed them out. 

Here’re the other situations when a brake repair requires bleeding your brakes: 

3. When is a Brake Bleed Not the Solution?

Certain brake issues aren’t linked to trapped air bubbles in the brake system. 

These include: 

4. Is a Brake Fluid Flush Better Than Bleeding Brakes?

Well, it depends. 

A brake fluid flush involves draining all the old, dirty fluid out of your brake system. In contrast, a brake bleed involves removing troublesome air bubbles from your brake fluid.

If the brake fluid in your brake system hasn’t been changed in a while and has become old, a brake fluid flush is the better option.

If the brake fluid in your system is relatively new, but you’re having braking problems from air bubbles, a brake bleed will be much more helpful.

Final Thoughts

Bleeding your car brakes involves several steps, and it’s crucial to do this brake repair right.
While you could follow our guide to bleed brakes yourself, it’s best to leave this brake service to a professional, such as AutoNation Mobile Service.

AutoNation Mobile Service is a convenient mobile auto repair and maintenance solution offering competitive, upfront pricing.

Our expert mechanics can bleed your car brakes right in your driveway and take care of all your automotive maintenance needs.
Fill out this form for an accurate cost estimate for bleeding brakes or any other brake repair!