When Do You Need To Bleed Your Brakes? 3 Ways To Bleed Your Brakes Correctly

Air bubbles in the brake fluid can cause your brakes to stop working. To remove bubbles, you need to bleed brakes. But when do you need to bleed your brakes? How often should you do it, and do you need to bleed all at once? Answers to these questions coming up!

The braking system is a critical component of your vehicle. We are sure you have heard multiple times that you should bleed your brake system for maintaining your braking system. 

Bleeding brakes involves bleeding air out of the braking system and getting rid of air bubbles that might have formed before adding fresh brake fluid. 

Brake system bleeding is easy to overlook, but if you don’t do it, it will slowly but surely start showing up while you drive. You will start noticing a sinking or softer pedal or excessive brake steer. 

Perhaps people don’t do it so often because they think bleeding brakes is difficult. This article will answer when you need to bleed your brakes and other questions that will help you get over this lethargy. 

When Do You Need To Bleed Your Brakes

When Should I Bleed My Brakes? 

How do I know if I have air inside my brake? Napa online writes that if you experience or observe any of the points listed below, you must consider bleeding your brakes. 

  • Every time you get your brake rotors and pads changed
  • A leak that will let the fluid out and let the air in. After repairing the leak, you must bleed your brakes to ensure that your system does not have an air bubble. 
  • When your brakes start to feel ‘spongy’ or a loose brake lever
  • The vehicle takes longer periods to stop than usual, and you can notice the sudden change. 

Do you have to bleed your brakes when you are changing your brake pads?

Yes, ideally you do need to bleed your brakes each time you change your brake pads. When you bleed the brakes, it helps to remove the residue that might have developed in the braking system over time. 

You might like to read: Do I Have To Bleed Brakes Changing Pads?

Step Wise Process To Bleed Your Cars Brakes

Below is a general procedure to bleed brakes, however, a lot can vary by car, model, and make.

  • Firstly, remove the master cylinder reservoir cap and filter. Stir the reservoir fluid to allow the sediment to float in the suspension and then remove them by employing a vacuum bleeder. 
  • Now, use a lint-free rag cloth to wipe the master cylinder reservoir and remove dirt. If required, one must repeat this. 
  • Refill the reservoir with new brake fluid.
  • Most cars have four bleeder screws, one at each caliper. Begin the process with the caliper farthest from the master cylinder, working your way to the closest one while ensuring to top off the master cylinder to avoid running dry periodically. So, the sequence of dealing with calipers would be: right rear, left rear, right front, and lastly, left front. 
  • There are four methods for bleeding brakes: single-person manual bleeding, two-person manual bleeding, pressure bleeding, and vacuum bleeding. The first two methods can be easily carried out at home, while professionals best do pressure bleeding with professional equipment. Vacuum bleeding is cheaper than pressure bleeding, requiring a specialized vacuum pump and even an air compressor. 

When Do You Need To Bleed Your Brakes

#1. Single Person-Manual Bleeding

This method requires a piece of vacuum hose and a clean, transparent plastic bottle. Fill this 20-ounce bottle with about 2 inches of clean brake fluid and connect the vacuum hose to the brake caliper bleeder fitting. 

Next, insert the hose into the bottle such that the hose touches the bottom and is fully drenched in the brake fluid. Sit on the driver seat and pump the pedal approximately 25 times using slow, controlled movements while ensuring you do not force the brake pedal more than halfway when you are bleeding the brakes. 

This can be disastrous enough to spoil your master cylinder so much that you will have to invest in a new one asap. Place a little square of wood under the brake pedal to guarantee this doesn’t occur. Repeat the above procedure for each caliper in the same sequence. 

You might like to read: No Brake Fluid To Rear Brakes When Bleeding: 6 Reasons Why This Happens

#2. Two Person Manual Bleeding Method 

  • The Two-Person Manual Bleeding method is the most widely used for bleeding brakes. The best part is that one can carry it out in your garage without specialized tools. All you need is a team of two. 
  • Initiate the process by cleaning the already present brake fluid in the reservoir. Once you are done cleaning, refill the reservoir with fresh brake fluid. 
  • Let the other person sit inside the car. He will need to pump the pedal many times. This will help to create pressure on the braking fluid. 
  • Open the bleeder valve and ask the other person to siphon the pedal multiple times, holding it down on the fourth siphon until you re-fix the valve shut. Try not to take off that pedal until the valve’s fixed. Ensure the vacuum line channels into a bucket and repeat until a constant flow of liquid streams from the valve. 
  • Play out this progression at each corner a few times until new liquid can be seen. The interaction cleanses the air from the framework and, as such, will spray and murmur liquid out until drained. A strong stream of clean liquid shows the task is finished at that specific corner. 
  • Do not try to push the brake pedals further than half of what they can when you are bleeding the brakes. 

When Do You Need To Bleed Your Brakes

#3. Pressure Bleeding 

Professionals best carry out pressure bleeding. It is a quick method but requires the use of expensive equipment. Begin by connecting an air hose to the pressurized bleeding machine, regulating brake fluid pressure. 

It works by forcing new brake fluid into the master cylinder while pushing out the old fluid through a hose that seals to the reservoir top of the master cylinder. 

The machine accomplishes the work, but one must still go through the conventional bleeding procedure. 

This includes opening the bleeder valves and removing the old brake fluid using the machine’s short suction line usually provided with the machine. The procedure is easy and rapid, but it is also costly and impractical.

You might like to read: Can’t Build Pressure When Bleeding Brakes – What to Do?

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. When you bleed brakes, do you have to bleed all four?

Do you have to bleed all 4 brakes when changing a caliper? Bleeding all four brakes when one brake line is opened is quite common. However, one may wonder if it is always needed. If the brake line that has been opened is independent, there is no need to bleed all brakes. 

#2. How often should you bleed disc brakes?

Riders who race and hence put their brakes under harsh conditions may consider changing the brake fluid every year. Those who do not use their cars as frequently may consider changing it less frequently. 

It would be enough to change your brake fluid once every two years, especially if the brakes employ high boiling point DOT fluid. DOT-certified brake fluids are also of four types, and one must be careful of choosing the right one. 

When Do You Need To Bleed Your Brakes

#3. What happens if you don’t bleed your brakes?

What happens when air gets into the brake lines and if you don’t bleed the brake system? Air bubbles in the braking fluid will not allow it to exert pressure on the brake pads. 

This will cause your brakes to become unresponsive, and you will find it harder to brake your car when you drive on the road. 

#4. How much does it cost to bleed your brakes?

As per Repairpal, the average cost for bleeding your brakes is between $81 and $102. However, this price is exclusive of the fees and taxes and will likely vary according to your location. 

You might like to read: What Size Tubing For Bleeding Brakes

A Few Final Words

Braking efficiency is not a joke. Nearly 300,000 accidents happen every year due to failed brakes. If your brakes are not functioning well, or you feel that the pedal is going straight to the floor, you should check your brake fluid for air bubbles. If you find any, please bleed your brakes immediately.

Did we miss out on something? Did you find the answer to the questions that brought you here? Share your thoughts and experiences related to the above in the comments section. Also, do consider sharing this write-up with friends and family.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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