How to Bleed Brakes

Mechanic checking brake fluid

Brake service encompasses a variety of smaller repairs that help keep the overall brake system fine-tuned. Brake bleeding is one of those repairs. If there’s air trapped in your car’s brake system, you may be wondering how to bleed brakes to release it. The process itself isn’t overly complicated, but it can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t consider yourself to be the “handy” type. While we highly recommend scheduling an appointment at the Major World Chevrolet service center, we believe knowing how to bleed brake lines is important information every Long Island City driver should know. 

 


Why is Bleeding the Brakes Important? 

Bleeding the brakes may sound like a serious undertaking, but it’s really just an important part of caring for your car’s brakes. Over time, the moisture resistance of brake fluid wears down, and the fluid will begin to absorb water. Air can also get into the brake system, causing the brake pedal to feel “soft” or “spongy” when you press it. Bleeding the brakes helps remove any trapped air, giving your brake pedal a firmer feel. 

How to Bleed Brakes By Yourself 

If you want to try bleeding your brakes at home, you’ll need brake fluid, a box-end wrench, a fluid holder and tubing, and an assistant to help you. After you’ve gathered the materials you need, follow these steps: 

Step 1: 

First, check your owner’s manual to make sure you have the correct brake fluid. There are many different types of brake fluid, so it’s important to know which is right for your vehicle. The owner’s manual will also tell you what the replacement intervals are for brake fluid. 

Step 2: 

On solid and level ground, jack up your car. Remove all of the wheels. 

Step 3: 

Next, find the four caliper bleeding screws and loosen them. (If they don’t loosen immediately, don’t twist hard with the wrench. Instead, spray the screw with penetrating oil and wait about 30 minutes. Then, give it another try. If the screw strips or snaps, don’t go any further — bring your car to our service center right away.)

Step 4: 

After the screws are loosened, tighten them again. Bleeding your brakes is a slow process and you need to bleed one brake at a time; the other three screws need to be tight to avoid air bubbles. 

Step 5: 

Pop the hood and check the master cylinder reservoir’s brake fluid level. Make sure your car has the appropriate amount of fluid. While you’re bleeding the brakes, leave the master cylinder cap unscrewed but still resting on top of the reservoir. To start, you’ll want to bleed the brake furthest from the master cylinder, but your vehicle may require a different order. You can check your owner’s manual or ask a technician for guidance. 

Step 6: 

Secure the end of a piece of clear tubing (about 1/4 inch in diameter) over the first bleeder screw. Put the other end of the tubing into a receptacle of some sort, such as a plastic bottle. You can also purchase a cheap brake bleeding kit from any auto store — or order one online — that’ll have these items. In any case, the tubing needs to be long enough that you can place the catch container above the bleeder screw’s height. This way, any air caught in the tube won’t move back into the brake caliper. 

Step 7: 

You’ll need an assistant for this next step. Make sure the car engine is off, and ask your assistant to pump the brake pedal several times until they feel resistance pushing back against the pedal. Instruct them to keep pressure on the pedal. Meanwhile, open the bleeder screw a bit. Fluid will move through the tube and the pedal will start dropping closer to the floor. Make sure your assistant continues to apply pressure. 

Step 8: 

Have your helper notify you immediately before the pedal reaches the floor. When they do, close the bleeder screw right away. Then, inspect the fluid level in the master fluid reservoir. You may need to add 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: 

After you’ve finished bleeding your brakes, instruct your helper to apply the brakes, then quickly release the pedal. While they do that, watch the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir. If the fluid is bubbling significantly, there’s still air in the system and you’re not quite done. However, if the fluid is moving only slightly, you’ve bled the brakes fully. 

Step 12: 

Before putting the wheels back on your car, tighten each of the bleeder screws. Again, don’t use all of your strength — just apply enough pressure to make sure they’re secure. 

Get Brake Service at Major World Chevrolet!

Does your car’s brake pedal have a spongy feel when you press down? If so, your vehicle likely needs its brakes bled. If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, the team at Major World Chevrolet near East Hills is ready and willing to help! Schedule a brake service visit online, or give us a call at 347-466-9380 to learn more about our brake services. While you’re here, be sure to browse our service specials for opportunities to save! 

 

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