Periodic replacement of your brake fluid is a maintenance exercise that is highly recommended by most automotive companies. Replacing the fluid once you notice some braking difficulties is a good idea as it improves the efficiency of the braking system.
The most common clue of an early break is a spongy brake pedal. This happens when you have to use a lot of energy when braking. This tired exercise is mainly brought about by compression of the brake fluid. Being a hydraulic fluid, brake fluids are not supposed to compress.
There are several ways to drain brake fluid and replace it. First, you can use gravity feed; where you undo the bleeder valve and perforating it so as to drain the fluid. This saves you time as the process is faster and cost-effective.
Second, you can choose to use an actual vacuum pump. You will have to dig deep into your pocket as this method is a bit expensive compared to the first method. You are required to purchase a brake bleeding kit. Nevertheless, the result will be worth the expenses.
We have compiled a detailed outline of how to change your brake fluid using brake bleeding kit. You can use this guide as your reference when undertaking the activities; either at the garage or at home.
How Much Does A Complete Kit Cost?
Before I further delve into the details of how everything works, it’s important that I first inform you of the average price of a full Brake Bleeding Kit. A full Kit ranges from US$30 – US$50. If you haven’t got yourself a kit, you can buy one at Sunbright professional automotive tools at only US$50, tax included.
Image Source: Sunbright tools
The image above is an accurate reflection of how a Brake Bleeding Kit looks like. The contents include the main pump, a small container which holds brake fluid., several connectors and hoses. In contrast to gravity, a vacuum pump will help us draw the fluid out in a fast-paced process.
Specific Safety Rules
Most often, we react quickly when trying to rectify a problem, but sometimes we don’t have the full context and can make mistakes. To fix that, we have outlined some of the basic safety measures to take note off when using the brake bleeding kit.
- First, maintain a safe working environment and keep the work area well lit. Make sure there is enough workspace and that the area is not occupied by obstructions such as oil, trash, grease, and other debris.
- DO NOT operate the pump near flammable chemicals or vapors.
- If new to the procure, of which most of you are, always maintain labels and nameplates.
- Keep the handles of the Brake Bleeder completely dry, clean and free from brake fluid, oil, and grease.
- Be alert for hot engines parts to avoid accidental burns.
- Prior to using the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump, make sure to place the vehicle’s transmission in “PARK” (if automatic) or “NEUTRAL” (if manual). Then, block the tires with chocks.
- Use the Brake Bleeder only with brake fluid. Do not attempt to use the tool to siphon any other liquids. Damage to the internal chamber and seal, or future brake fluid contamination may result.
- Brake fluid is corrosive. Avoid spilling it on the vehicle’s exterior, it can harm automobile paint.
- Always apply caution and common sense.
Assembly and Operating Instructions
Assembly Diagram (1)
To Bleeder Brakes
- Attach a 3” vacuum hose to the bottom of the Jar Lid 2a. This will prevent fluid from being pumped into the Vacuum Pump; we only need air in the Vacuum Pump.
- Attach a 23” vacuum hose to the top of the Jar Lid 2a marked ‘TO PUMP’, then attach the other end of the same 23” hose to the Vacuum pump (1). The 23” vacuum hose is being used in this case because not only will it be easier to work with, but it will also ensure that fluid is not pumped into the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump. In case of an overflow, the length of the hose will allow us to clearly detect the fluid overflow.
- Firmly attach the Jar lid 2a to the Reservoir Jar (3).
- Before you go down to the brake caliper and start trying to suck everything out, it’s important to NOTE that the system is already under pressure; the system already has a vacuum in it.
- Removethe cap from the vehicle’s master cylinder and check to make sure the master cylinder is full of brake fluid. If not, fill the master cylinder with clean, new brake fluid.
NOTE: Use only the kind of brake fluid recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
NOTE: The brake fluid is very corrosive, hence make sure you don’t spill it anywhere around the master cylinder. You can get a towel and set it around the master cylinder, especially during the refilling process.
- NOTE: Determine the proper brake bleeding sequence from your vehicle service manual (i.e. right rear wheel, left rear wheel, right front wheel, left front wheel).
- Connect the 23” vacuum hose to the remaining port on the jar lid 2a and then connect the other end to the Brake Bleeder Screw Adapter (9).
- Squeeze the Handle of the Vacuum pump (1) 10 to 15 times to create a vacuum in the Reservoir Jar (3).
NOTE: The Gauge on the Vacuum pump should read approximately 10 in/Hg. Do not exceed 20 in/Hg. A greater vacuum could damage the vehicle’s brake system.
- Once the Vacuum pump (1) is ready, check for leaks at the Reservoir Jar (3) and at all vacuum Hose (4, 5) connections. If there is a leak, release the vacuum in the Vacuum pump with the Vacuum Release Control.
CAUTION! Never remove the Jar Lid 2a before releasing the vacuum in the Vacuum Pump.
Correct the leak, and once again create a vacuum in the Vacuum Pump to approximately 10 in/Hg.
Assembly Diagram (2)
- Open the Vehicle’s wheel caliper bleeder screw and allow brake fluid into the Reservoir Jar (3). Then, tighten the wheel caliper bleeder screw after bleeding.
NOTE: The Bleeder valves only need to be turned a quarter turn at most to get the fluid running.
- Release the vacuum in the Vacuum Pump (1) with the Vacuum Release Control. Then, disconnect the Brake Bleeder Screw Adapter (9) from the vehicle’s wheel caliper bleeder screw.
NOTE: When necessary, release the vacuum in the tool and empty its Reservoir Jar (3) of old brake fluid. To assist in transport, this set includes a leak-resistant Lid 2b without hose connections. After the brake fluid is disposed of properly, resume bleeding the brakes. The goal is to keep on pumping until the liquid runs clear.
- Dark and watery fluid indicates that the process has never been done before.
- Remove the cap from the vehicle’s master cylinder and refill the master cylinder back to its normal capacity with clean, new brake fluid. Keep replenishing until the whole process is complete. Then, replace the cap on the master cylinder.
NOTE: Always keep an eye on the brake master cylinder reservoir making sure it doesn’t run dry. If it does run dry, you’ll have to start over and re-bleed the entire brake system.
- After pumping for some time, you’ll notice that the liquid coming out of the tube is cleaner than when you started the whole process. Once this happens, stop pulling out the liquid; further action will result in wastage.
- Proceed to the vehicle’s next wheel and perform the same steps as above. The process will be a lot faster for the other three wheels because the bad liquid in the reservoir was already replaced.
- When finished using the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump, clean the tool and store it in a clean, dry location out of reach of children.
WARNING! Before driving the vehicle, carefully check for leaks and test for proper brake operation. Also, be sure to pump the brakes until stiff before getting the vehicle into motion.
Inspection, Maintenance, and Cleaning
- WARNING! Always release the vacuum in the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump before performing any inspection, maintenance, or cleaning.
- Before each use: Inspect the general condition of the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump. Check for misalignment or binding of moving parts, cracked or broken parts, damaged Hoses, loose connections, and any other condition that may affect its safe operation. If a problem occurs, have the problem corrected before further use. Do not use damaged equipment.
- When cleaning: Do not clean the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump with cleaners or other solvents not intended for use with plastic components. Use a clean cloth and, if necessary, a mild detergent. Do not immerse the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump (1) component in any liquid.
- When Storing: Never Store fluid in the Reservoir Jar (3) of the Brake Bleeder/Vacuum Pump.
- WARNING! All maintenance, service, or repairs that are not mentioned in the article are only to be attempted by a qualified service technician.
How Often Do I Need to Change My Brake Fluid?
The life of Brake fluid revolves around a closed system and may remain intact for several years. However, after a while, moisture and other contaminants from the surrounding environment will find their way in through hoses and other parts of the brake system. Contaminated brake fluid usually changes the way the brake system operates; the brake pedal may feel spongy and heat dissipation may encounter recurrent stops. Over time, the moisture will trigger off internal corrosion in the master cylinder, brake lines, calipers, and other related components.
Every manufacturer has their own recommended intervals for changing the brake fluid. The interval might be as often as every two years; the interval might also be as rare as never. Mercedes-Benz necessitates fresh fluid every two years or 20, 000 miles. Honda and Volkswagen recommend a brake fluid change every three years. On a majority of its models, Chevrolet requires a brake fluid change every 45, 000 miles. Quite the reverse, Toyota, Ford Escape, and Hyundai Elantra have no recommendations for replacing the brake fluid; they only recommend a periodic inspection. Therefore, it’s up to the owner to seek the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule or have confidence in the advice of a trusted repair shop.
Car ownership entails great responsibility as well as additional expenses. Every now and then, various car fluids need to be replaced. However, unlike engine oil, brake fluid doesn’t usually get the attention it deserves; it’s often the most neglected car fluid. Most individuals know about topping off brake fluid, but changing it comes as a surprise to most car owners.
To shift the habitual mentality to a more positive perfective, let’s pinpoint a few facts. The average motorist drives 10, 000 – 15, 000 miles every year. During this period, most motorists use their brakes approximately 75, 000 times. Intriguing, right? It doesn’t end there. According to Car Council care Survey, half of these motorists, for the most part, are afraid of brake failure.
Therefore, it’s very vital that every car owner learns to change their brake fluid. The Brake Bleeding Kit was designed to make the process of draining or changing your brake fluid far much easier. As seen above, changing the brake fluid is not particularly difficult. It is, however, a fairly messy and time-consuming undertaking.
Anyone who is willing and brave enough to learn to do the job will save themselves a great deal of money. Nevertheless, if the problem persists after completing the brake bleeding procedure, it’s probably best if you seek a qualified service technician. Moreover, the local mechanic is always available with the necessary tools and resources to accomplish the job for you; if you are a busy person, you could use this time to do something more productive.
In case of any queries, feel free to post your concern on the comment section below and will gladly address them.