How to Bleed Brakes at Home

Mechanic Working On Brakes


When you take your car in for some routine maintenance, one of the steps that keeps your brake system operating is brake bleeding. Bleeding your brakes is a process of releasing trapped air within the brake system to improve performance. If you are wondering how to bleed brake lines, or how to bleed drum brakes, it is easy enough; however it can be quite time-consuming. If you aren’t particularly handy, then you can come to our service center at Vermilion Chevrolet GMC to have your brakes bled by scheduling service today. 

How to Bleed Brakes: Why is it Important? 

Regularly bleeding your brakes is essential for maintaining your vehicle’s braking system. It’s normal for your brakes to wear down. Eventually, the brake fluid will start absorbing water and this could also cause air to get into the brake lines. The feeling when you brake that comes when air gets into the braking system is “soft” or “spongy,” and bleeding your brakes can replace that with a firmer feeling while braking.

How to Bleed Brakes By Yourself 

You’ll need brake fluid, a box-end wrench, a fluid holder and tubing, and an extra pair of hands. Once you have all of these, here’s how to bleed brakes by yourself (or with a friend):

1. Proper Brake Fluid

Look in your owner’s manual to confirm you have the proper brake fluid as there are many types. You can also find the proper replacement intervals for your specific vehicle. 

2. Solid Ground

Be sure your vehicle is on a flat, level surface. Jack up your vehicle, and remove all of the wheels.

3. Caliper Bleeding Screws

You’ll want to locate the four caliper bleeding screws and loosen them. It’s important not to force the screws, but to instead use penetrating oil like WD-40 and wait some time before trying again. At all costs, you want to avoid stripping or snapping your screws. 

4. Tighten Again

Once the screws are loosened, you’ll have to go back and tighten them again. This is a slow process, and you’ll need to bleed one at a time, keeping the screws tight to avoid air bubbles.

5. Getting Under the Hood

Under the hood, you’ll want to check the master cylinder reservoir’s brake fluid. Confirm that your vehicle has the correct amount of fluid, and throughout the bleeding process, leave the cap unscrewed and resting on top of the reservoir. You’ll want to start bleeding the furthest brake from the master cylinder. Confirm what your vehicle needs in the owner’s manual or ask our experts at Vermilion Chevrolet GMC in Tilton.

6. Connect Tubing to Bleeder Screw

Now, using a clear, ¼-inch tubing, connect it over the bleeder screw. Place the opposite end in a plastic bottle or some sort of receptacle. Another option is buying a brake bleeding kit online or at your Champaign auto parts store. The tubing needs to be long enough that you can put the catch container above the bleeder screws height, and prevent air in the tube from moving into the brake caliper. 

7. Pump the Brake Pedal with Help 

This is when you will need help from another person. With the engine off, have someone pump the brake pedal multiple times until there is resistance pushing back. Then, have them maintain the pressure on the pedal while you open the bleeder screw a bit. Fluid will move up through the tube and the pedal will move towards the floor. Be sure to maintain the brake pressure. 

8. Close the Bleeder Screw

Before the brake pedal reaches the floor, have your helper inform you, and immediately close the bleeder screw. Inspect the fluid level in the master fluid reservoir to see if you need more fresh fluid. 

9. Repeat and Be Patient 

How to bleed brake lines: be patient. That’s right, you will have to repeat the last two steps about five times. Stay at the same bleeder screw until the fluid stream no longer has any bubbles. 

10. Repeat on the Other Bleeder Screws

On the other three bleeder screws, repeat steps 7, 8, and 9. Start with the screw further from the master cylinder and then move closer. 

11. Apply and Release 

Once you’ve bled your brakes, have your helper apply the brakes and quickly release the pedal. As they do this, you should keep an eye on the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir. If you see significant bubbles there is still air in the system, but if the fluid is moving only a bit then the brakes are fully bled.

12. Tighten the Bleeders and Replace your Wheels 

Tighten each of the bleeders with just enough pressure that they are secure, but not full force. Then you can put your wheels back on your vehicle. 

How to Bleed Drum Brakes

Learning how to bleed drum brakes isn’t much different from the process of how to bleed normal brake lines. The process behind bleeding your brakes involves a jack stands, brake fluid, automotive jack, plastic or glass jar, lug wrench, wrench set, clear plastic tubing, time, and probably some extra hands.

  1. Use your automotive jack to lift up the rear of the vehicle and then support it with jack stands. Loosen the rear wheels with your lug wrench. Then, remove them and set them aside. 
  2. This part is actually the same as if you were bleeding disc brakes. Begin with the wheel farthest from the master cylinder and work toward it.
  3. You’ll find the bleeder screw on the rear of the backing plate, near the top. Remove the plastic or rubber cover protecting the screws, place your hose over the screw and into a container. 
  4. With the help of a friend, have them gently press on the brake pedal. Once the fluid stops leaking, you can close the bleeder and release the pedal. 
  5. Continue doing this process until there are no more air bubbles, for each wheel with a drum brake. 

Discover More About How to Bleed Your Brake Line With Vermilion Chevrolet GMC

Not only will we help you answer all of the questions you have about how to bleed brakes yourself, but you can take advantage of our service specials for additional ways to save on all of your maintenance needs. Contact us today with any questions that you might still have about the process, and let our professional team help you.

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