How to Use a One-Man Brake Bleeder Kit

by Christian Killian

One-man brake bleeding is most often accomplished using a hand-held vacuum pump to draw air out of the brake system. While the air is drawn out, new brake fluid is drawn into the system using the pump.

Secure the Vehicle

Jack the car up using a sturdy jack and secure it on jack stands that are properly rated for the weight of your vehicle. Be sure you are on firm, flat ground so the jack stands won't shift.

Remove the tires using a properly sized lug wrench. Set the tires and lug nuts aside.

Remove the master cylinder reservoir cover and set it aside. If the fluid is low, top it off with new brake fluid before starting to bleed the system.

Bleeding the Brake System

Attach the hose from the vacuum bleeder to the brake-bleeding nipple at the brake drum or caliper farthest from the master cylinder first.

Open the bleeder screw with a properly sized box end wrench. The screw may be tight, so be sure the wrench fits properly to avoid stripping the hex on the screw.

Pump the vacuum pump slowly, watching the fluid coming through the tube. When all the air bubbles are gone and you see clean fluid coming out, close the screw securely.

Move to the next brake drum or caliper and repeat the procedure. Continue around the vehicle until all four brakes have been bled. Do not let the brake fluid level in the reservoir fall below 1/4 at any time during the bleeding process as air may be drawn back into the system.

Replace the wheels and tighten with the lug wrench. All four wheels should be torqued to the manufacturer's specifications for maximum safety.

Check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir and top it off as needed. Replace the reservoir cover and remove the jack stands.

Verify that the brake pedal feels firm when depressed and all brakes are functioning properly before driving the vehicle.

Warnings

  • close The brake bleeder screws may be frozen or rusted closed on older vehicles. Penetrating oil or a torch to apply heat may be needed to free them.
  • close Avoid getting brake fluid on the vehicle's paint or finish as it may cause severe damage.

Items you will need

About the Author

Christian Killian has been a freelance journalist/photojournalist since 2006. After many years of working in auto parts and service positions, Killian decided to move into journalism full-time. He has been published in "1st Responder News" as well as in other trade magazines and newspapers in the last few years.