How to bleed brakes—plus extra tips & tricks to make it easier | Hagerty DIY

Hemorrhaging brakes is just one of the easiest means you can work on your own car in the comfort of your own garage or driveway. It calls for simple devices that the majority of us already have in our toolbox. Adhere to along as Hagerty's Davin Reckow offers you a step-by-step guide (along with a couple of handy tips/tricks) on how to obtain the air bubbles out of your brake lines as well as obtain your brake system performing like new.

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29 Replies to “How to bleed brakes—plus extra tips & tricks to make it easier | Hagerty DIY”

    1. @James Rochester I made one with a windshield reservoir and pump , then make the wiring with a button and about 4m of wires. And used a actual brake fluid reservoir cover with an adapted hose. Works like a charm!
      I live in Brazil, the cheapest pressurized bleeder costs around R$ 200 and I something about R$15 to R$20 in materials to make mine.

  1. Tip: make sure the bleeding tube routes upward immediately from the bleeding screw. This encourages air bubbles to continue their journey upward and outward. Flashlight (or droplight) and reading glasses help in most instances too for certainty of visual observation. Start with some fluid in the bottle so that air cannot enter the bleeding line from the bottle end. Question for Davin: Are there any parts (I presume a master cylinder is one) that can somehow allow air into the lines without leaking fluid? I currently have this condition on an old Toyota that I’ve went around each corner 4 times, the pedal hardens up, but after a test drive it softens up without losing any fluid anywhere. I am baffled. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks, Great video!

    1. Master cylinder could be bypassing. I have had many Toyota brakes where this has happened, seemed to be common. But probably a good place to start. Also check any connections that loop up. If you have a leak up there it might not leak as bad and not see it until you inspect it closer.

    2. This is why in Europe mechanics use a hand vacuum pump to extract that air bubbles well. It’s easier and quicker.

  2. One tip: If you have to do it by yourself, use something sturdy, and wedge it between the pedal and the dash to hold the brake pedal down ( I use the handle from a small bottle jack). Then you can loosen the bleeder as usual. Release the pedal, check the master cylinder, fill it if needed, then repeat. Takes awhile having to go back and forth, but will get the job done.

  3. On my old rail buggy, i used gear oil in the brakes becouse it leaked slower.
    Most of the time it had no brakes. No i never fixed them. I just sold it.

    1. My first car, 59 Bug had ‘X’ brake applications till the fluid ran out. I fixed them, but still drive to this day with a level of caution, and not reliance on four wheel discs and ABS.

  4. I am reminded of the George Carlin line: “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” Brake systems are not immune to stupid people as David alluded to.

  5. New system/fluid, pour the fluid thru a coffee filter & reuse! If using a vacuum bleeder smear grease around the bleeder screw to not draw in air.

  6. My first adventure into brake bleeding was when I did a full rebuild on the rear drums, 1996 Jeep XJ. Used speed bleeders. Where do I rank in the cheater scale?

  7. When bleeding the brakes, does it do any difference with the car on or off to bleed them on certain type make and model of the car?

    1. Same here. Never know. I might learn something.

      Like they have a bottle just for bleeding brakes. I always cut a hole in a coke bottle and used that. 🙂

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