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How to Flush Brake Fluid

Flushing Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is a hygroscopic fluid that starts absorbing water thus making it less effective. We suggest flushing your brake fluid once a year, but it’s also a good idea to bleed your fluid every 6 months if you do a lot of hard breaking. Hard breaking on the brake rotors accumulates a lot of heat in the brake system and “boils” the fluid creating air bubbles. Bleeding your brake system helps get rid of those air bubbles in the system.

For both bleeding and flushing your brakes, it’s recommended to have fresh brake fluid readily available. If the fluid in the reservoir runs low while bleeding/flushing, it will induce air into the system making rendering the entire process useless.

Make sure the brake fluid is fresh and hasn’t been sitting on the shelf more than 2 weeks if the seal has been opened. This is important as opened brake fluid is going to contain moisture. Unlike other brake components such as brake rotors or brake pads, brake fluid is sensitive to shelf life, especially when opened.

Always wear safety glasses and use proper equipment. Use common sense and take precaution as BrakePerformance does not take responsibility for erratic driving, accidents, damages done, or personal injury.

1.      On a level surface, set the car in gear and place a stop behind the tires to keep it from rolling.

2.      Open the hood and locate the master cylinder. This is where the brake fluid is filled from. Open the master cylinder cap (brake fluid reservoir) and place an old rag around it as you may get some spillage. (Do not drip on paint of the car as brake fluid will etch)

3.      Using a turkey baster, suck out all the fluid. Most likely 20% will remain and that’s okay.

4.      Refill the reservoir back up to the fill line using fresh brake fluid.

5.      Check with your manufacturer and find out the order of which brake caliper to bleed first. Normally, it’s always starting with the furthest brake caliper from the brake reservoir. For example, if your reservoir is located in the engine bay by the driver side, you would start with the rear passenger brake caliper, rear driver brake caliper, front passenger brake caliper, and then finally the driver side brake caliper. This is just a general example, make sure to verify with your manufacturer.

6.      Once you figure out the order, you want to jack up that side of the car and remove the wheel to access the caliper that you are about to bleed.

7.      Secure the car by using jack stands once you jack up the car and remove the wheel.

8.      Locate the bleeder valve. It helps to attach a rubber hose over it so the brake fluid doesn’t drip everywhere.

9.      Using an assistant, have him/her pump the brakes about 4-5 times and they should notice it get stiffer. While they are holding the brake pedal down, open up the bleeder valve and fluid will come out. The trick is that you want your assistant to notify you to close the valve right before they hit the bottom of the brake pedal.

10.  Repeat this process until fresh brake fluid comes out. Usually old fluid is darker and you will notice the shift to a lighter fluid indicating the fresh fluid has filled that brake line.

11.  Repeat the same process for the remainder of the brake calipers and make sure that the brake fluid never gets below the minimum marker on the master cylinder.  If this happens, you risk getting air into the system again and having to re-do the entire process again.

12.  Once all four corners are done, top of the fluid in the reservoir to the max line, torque the wheel bolts to proper specification and verify you have a solid brake pedal feel before driving.

Bleeding Brakes

The process of bleeding brakes is identical. The only difference is that when you are bleeding each individual brake caliper, you only need to open the bleeder valve once or twice until you don't see any air bubbles come out. You do not need to wait until you start seeing fresh fluid. It is still necessary to have fresh fluid as it may drain most of what's in the master cylinder.


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