How to Bleed Brakes By Yourself

Brake fluid check


Do your brakes feel “spongy” when you come to stops in Palm Beach County? Do you suspect that your brake lines may have a buildup of air or moisture inside them? Then you might be in need of brake service. We offer a variety of brake maintenance and repair services at the Earl Stewart Toyota Service Center, including but not limited to, brake bleeding. Although this process can be tedious, it’s not overly complicated for the average West Palm Beach driver. You can always feel free to schedule a service appointment to have your vehicle’s brakes bled. However, if you’d prefer to learn how to bleed brakes from the comfort of your Palm Beach Gardens driveway, we’ve included a step-by-step DIY guide below! 

How to Bleed Brake Lines: Step-by-Step Instructions

Ready to learn how to bleed brakes by yourself? You’ll need the following tools: 

  • A friend
  • Fluid holder and tubing
  • Box-end wrench
  • Brake fluid

Once you’ve got all the necessary equipment and people together, just follow these steps below to successfully bleed your brakes: 

  1. Consult Your Owner’s Manual: First, check your owner’s manual to make sure you have the correct brake fluid. There are many 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. 
  2. Remove the Wheels: On solid and level ground, jack up your car. Remove all the wheels. 
  3. Loosen the Bleeding Screws: 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.
  4. Re-Tighten the Screws: 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. 
  5. Inspect Your Brake Fluid Levels: 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. 
  6. Connect Clear Tubing to the Bleeder Screw: Secure the end of a piece of clear tubing (about 1/4 inches 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 parts store. 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. 
  7. Apply Pressure Via Brake Pedal: 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. 
  8. Close the Bleeder Screw: 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. 
  9. Drain Fluid on Same Bleeder Screw: Repeat the previous two steps about five times at the same bleeder screw, or until the fluid stream no longer has any bubbles. 
  10. Rinse and Repeat on Three Other Screws: 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. 
  11. Check the Master Cylinder Reservoir’s Brake Fluid: 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. 
  12. Check Bleeder Screws Again: 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 Your Brakes Serviced at Earl Stewart Toyota!

A soft, spongy feeling when applying pressure to your brake pedal is the biggest indicator that you need your brakes bled. Knowing how to bleed brakes is important, but if you’d prefer to leave it to the certified experts, you can always contact us at Earl Stewart Toyota to set up a time to visit. Just be sure to check out our service specials before you stop by to save money on your upcoming brake service.

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