How to Bleed Brakes

How to Bleed Brakes on Your Car

Have you noticed that your brakes aren’t working as well as they used to as you drive around Irving, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, and Dallas? If your brakes feel squishy or spongy, the air has probably worked its way into your brake lines. This can greatly reduce your brake power.

Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need new brakes. Sometimes, all you need to do is bleed your brake lines to remove the excess air. Read on to learn how to manually bleed brakes from our team at Principle Volkswagen.

What You’ll Need

Brake bleeder hoseBefore you get started, make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to get the job done. To manually bleed your brakes, you’ll need:

  • Brake fluid: check your owner’s manual to ensure you buy the proper kind. Two unopened 8-ounce canisters should be enough.
  • Four jack stands to raise your car off the ground
  • A helpful friend who can sit in the car and press the brake pedal for you
  • Nitrile gloves and eye protection to protect you from toxic brake fluid
  • A clean rag to clean up any spills
  • A box wrench that fits your brake valve bolts
  • A bleeder hose: a quarter-inch plastic tube should suffice
  • An empty plastic or glass jar to collect used brake fluid

When you’re gathering your materials, make sure you don’t use an open canister of brake fluid that has been sitting around in your garage. Once a canister of brake fluid has been opened, it’s only good for a couple of weeks. This is because it absorbs moisture from the surrounding air, which in turn makes it less effective.

Steps on how to Bleed Brakes

Topping off the master cylinder1. Park the car on a level surface and raise it on four jack stands. This will help you easily get under the vehicle so you can access the brake lines, as well as prevent the vehicle from rolling. Check your owner’s manual to find where the bleeder valves are located. Depending on the type of brake, you may need to remove the wheels to access the bleeder valves.

2. Prepare the bleeder valves. Find a box wrench that fits the bleeder valve bolts. Then, make sure you can easily open each one before you start. If you’re having trouble loosening the valves, add a little WD-40 and let it sit before trying again. Once you make sure each valve can be loosened, tighten them again before moving on.

3. Check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder. Make sure it’s full before you start bleeding the brakes, so you don’t end up introducing more air into the system. Then, place the cap back on the master cylinder to prevent moisture from being drawn into the fluid from the air.

4. Start bleeding the brakes. Start with the brake that’s farthest from the master cylinder, unless your owner’s manual tells you otherwise. Usually, the master cylinder is at the front of your vehicle on the driver’s side—which would mean you should start bleeding at the passenger-side rear brake.

Attach one end of the bleeder hose to the valve, and place the other end in your empty jar. Have your friend pump the brakes three times, then maintain pressure on the brake pedal.

While your friend maintains pressure, you should turn the bleeder valve to the left. Two things will happen: On your end, brake fluid will spurt out through the hose and into the jar. Your friend will also notice the brake pedal continue toward the floor.

Have your friend let you know when the brake pedal stops moving. Then, tighten the bleeder valve before they remove pressure from the brake—otherwise, air will be sucked back into the line. Finally, have your friend release their foot from the pedal. Use a rag to wipe up any brake fluid that may have spilled, as it can eat through paint.

Repeat this step until no more air comes out of the line, checking the fluid level in the master cylinder regularly to make sure it doesn’t run dry. Then, repeat on the remaining three brakes, working your way closer to the master cylinder.

5. Top off the master cylinder. Finally, check the brake fluid level one last time to make sure there’s enough in the master cylinder.

6. Take your car for a test drive. Once everything is tightened and your car is back on the ground, take it for a test drive to make sure the brakes work as expected.

You should notice your brake pedal is more responsive than before, now that the air is removed from your brake lines. If this isn’t the case, take your car to a qualified service technician to inspect your brakes and determine the issue.

Let Us Help: Schedule an Appointment Today

If you have any questions about how to bleed brakes using this method, contact the service department at Principle Volkswagen. We’re proud to help drivers in Irving, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, and Dallas get the information and parts they need to do the job correctly.

We’re also available to bleed your brakes for you or provide any other assistance you may need with your brake system. If you want to let our experienced service technicians do the job for you, contact us today to schedule an appointment!