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How to Bleed Brakes

2021 Nissan Leaf Exterior Photo Blog post

Keeping up with regular brake service is a must if you want to ensure that your vehicle is safe for the roads of Birmingham and beyond. Brake bleeding is part of that routine maintenance. Are you wondering how to bleed brakes and remove air from your brake system? The process itself isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming. For most drivers, we recommend leaving this task to the professionals at the Greenway Nissan of Florence service center, but knowing how to bleed brake lines is still beneficial information for all drivers to know. 

The Importance of Bleeding the Brakes 

If you are unfamiliar with this service task, you may be wondering why you need to bleed your brakes at all. Over time, the moisture resistance of brake fluid wears down, and when this happens, the fluid starts absorbing water. As air becomes trapped in the brake system, you may notice a “soft” or “spongy” sensation when you press your brake pedal. When you bleed the brakes, that trapped air is removed, in turn giving your brake pedal a firmer feel. 

How to Bleed Brakes By Yourself 

If you would like to know how to bleed brakes by yourself, we have provided a guide to this task below. Before you can get started, you need to make sure that you have the proper supplies on hand. 

  • Brake fluid
  • A box-end wrench
  • A fluid holder and tubing
  • An assistant to help you

Once you have everything that you need, you are ready to begin following the steps provided below. 

Step 1: 

Ensure you have the proper brake fluid for your particular make and model by checking your owner’s manual. There are many different types of brake fluid, so knowing the type your vehicle requires is essential. In your owner’s manual, you can find details on the replacement intervals for brake fluid as well. 

Step 2: 

Make sure that your vehicle is on solid and level ground before you jack up the car. Each wheel should be removed. 

Step 3: 

Locate the four caliper bleeding screws and loosen them. They may not loosen immediately. If this is the case, do not try forcing them loose with the wrench. Spray the screw with penetrating oil and wait about 30 minutes. After this time has passed, you can try to loosen the screws once more. If the screw strips or snaps, don’t go any further. You will need to bring your vehicle into the service center.

Step 4: 

After the screws are loosened, you will need to tighten them again. Why? You need to bleed the brakes one at a time, so the other three screws need to be tight to prevent air bubbles. 

Step 5: 

Open the hood to check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir. Ensure that the vehicle has the correct amount of fluid. As you bleed the brakes, leave the master cylinder cap unscrewed on top of the reservoir. Typically, you will want to bleed the brake furthest from the master cylinder first, however, your vehicle may require a different order. Once again, you will want to take a look at your owner’s manual for this information.

Step 6: 

Secure the end of a piece of clear tubing (about 1/4 inches in diameter) over the first bleeder screw. The other end of the tubing should be placed into a receptacle like a plastic bottle. Keep in mind that affordable brake bleeding kits are available for purchase from any auto store. These kits will have all of the items you need. Make sure that the tubing you use is long enough that you can place the catch container above the bleeder screw’s height. This is necessary to prevent air caught in the tube from moving back into the brake caliper. 

Step 7: 

This step requires the help of an assistant. Make sure the car engine is off, and ask your assistant to pump the brake pedal several times until they feel resistance pushing back against the pedal. Your assistant should keep pressure on the pedal as you open the bleeder screw a bit. Fluid will move through the tube as the pedal starts to drop closer to the floor. Your assistant should continue to apply pressure to the brake pedal. 

Step 8: 

Instruct your assistant to notify you immediately before the pedal reaches the floor. Close the bleeder screw right away as soon as they provide that notification. Take a look at the fluid level in the master fluid reservoir again to see if fresh fluid needs to be added. 

Step 9: 

Repeat the previous two steps approximately five times for the same bleeder screw or as long as it takes for the fluid stream to no longer have any bubbles. 

Step 10: 

Repeat steps 7, 8, and 9 on the other three bleeder screws in the correct order. Begin with the screw that’s furthest away from the master cylinder, moving toward the one that is closest to it. 

Step 11: 

When the process of bleeding your brakes is complete, have your assistant apply the brakes and quickly release the pedal. As this happens, watch the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir. If the fluid is bubbling significantly, it is because air still remains in the system. This is a sign that you are not fully done with the process. If the fluid is moving only slightly, you have successfully bled the brakes. 

Step 12: 

Tighten each of the bleeder screws before putting the wheels back on your vehicle. Use just enough pressure to make sure each screw is secure. 

Experience Trusted Brake Service at Greenway Nissan of Florence 

If you notice a spongy brake pedal on your travels around Muscle Shoals and Decatur, it is likely time to bleed your brakes. If you still have questions about how to bleed brakes or you would rather leave this task to our service department, do not hesitate to contact us. You can set up an appointment online with our convenient form. 

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Greenway Nissan of Florence 34.834730, -87.628871.