Usually I am stuck doing this sort of stuff by myself and I don't trust my kids (4 and 7) yet to help me with this. Any tricks to doing this or is this really a 2-man job?

  • 1
    The problem with doing it by yourself is: how do you know when all the air is out of the lines?
    – Jaime
    Oct 24 '11 at 16:56
  • Thanks for the answers. I assumed the answer was better to have two, but I wanted to see if there was some better way that I didn't know.
    – Mike Wills
    Oct 24 '11 at 17:38
  • There are several ways to perform a brake bleed by oneself that allow you to monitor the fluid exiting the bleeder valve for air bubbles. Oct 24 '11 at 19:24
  • 3
    I was going to say in an answer, but forgot, make sure you look up the correct order in which to bleed your calipers. It can be different on every model, and it does matter. Oct 24 '11 at 19:41
  • Good tip @qes. In regard to answering, sorry, but I like to mark an answer before I forget. I change if I find a better one.
    – Mike Wills
    Oct 24 '11 at 19:51

From my personnal experience, it's a 2 man job if you want to do it right. I did not trust any one men bleeder kit on the market. But other can say otherwise.

The only trick I've seen that may work is to use speed bleeder, which have a valve that automatically lock that prevent any air to get into your system. I did not try it myself. It's looks like this:

enter image description here

  • 2
    I have tried these on motorcycles and have had pretty good success. Though, I could see the lines and know visually see the bleed lines.
    – Rig
    Oct 27 '11 at 4:14

Power bleeders work great. I use Motive's.

enter image description here

You can get a variety of caps to fit most master cylinders. Attach and pump up to pressure. Then crawl under your car and let loose on the bleeder. You can see the air bubbles as it comes out, you can also usually tell the difference in color between the old fluid and the new fluid.

The instructions will say to put brake fluid in the tank of the bleeder. Personally, I do not. But I am careful to check my master cylinder reservoir often so that it does not go empty. This keeps my power bleeder tank in new condition.

Vacuum bleeders, like the MityVac, do not work nearly as well in my opinion. I also do not like the speed bleeders, as I have read of many people having problems with them failing over time.

Bottom line, the first time I used the Motive Power Bleeder I knew I had found what it took to reliably and confidently do a brake bleed by myself.

  • A little spendy for a DIYer like myself. I'll have to get my dad's or father-in-law's help. They are cheaper too.
    – Mike Wills
    Oct 24 '11 at 19:28
  • ~$50 on amazon. everyone has different values, but $50 is peanuts imho considering how easy it makes the job. I use mine many times a year (4 vehicles, I bleed each after winter at the least, and the last year it seems every car has needed major brake work so it's really seen some use lately). Spendy is when you need to buy an engine lift and a tranny jack for a DIY job ;-) And remember the $50 when (lol, I'd say if but ...) your helper doesn't quite hear you and lets up on the pedal while the valve is open and you have to start over. Oct 24 '11 at 19:36
  • In 10 years, I have never bleed my brakes. If I used it more often I would have a different outlook.
    – Mike Wills
    Oct 24 '11 at 19:49
  • @Mike, I sincerely hope that someone has bled your brakes in the past 10 years. If not, I strongly encourage you to consider changing your brake fluid more often. Brake fluid does absorb moisture over time, reducing it's boiling point and accelerating rust inside the system. I doubt you want to find yourself in a situation where your brakes are failing due to such an easily preventable issue like severe brake fade due to a lowered wet boiling point. Oct 24 '11 at 23:10
  • Most of my vehicles we have only kept for 5 or so years. Beyond that I didn't know that that needed to be done at all. First I have heard of it.
    – Mike Wills
    Oct 25 '11 at 13:03

I use handheld vacuum pump with a catch can in-line. I've also got speedbleeders. Makes really short work of brake bleeding, just open the bleeders, hook up the hoses, and pump until you get clean fluid (or need to top off the reservoir).


I found this in a very old (1960's) MB Service Manual

  1. Attach a brake fluid resistant hose that is long enough to touch the ground to the bleeder nipple.
  2. Put the other end of the hose in a clear bottle filled 1/4 of the way with fresh brake fluid (the hose should be under the level of fluid).
  3. Now loosen the brake bleeder.
  4. As you pump the brakes, you should see bubbles and old fluid pushed into the bottle.
  5. When the bubbles stop (and when the fluid starts coming out clean) close the bleeder, remove the hose, and go to the next brake bleeder.

This works in part because once the air has been pushed out and the pedal is released, only fluid is sucked back in. The down side is that it is a bit trickier to truly replace all of the fluid as there is a small chance some of the old fluid mixed with new will get back in. The ratio of the mix depends on how often you empty and refill the bottle. (Make sure the bleeder is closed when you do that.)

  • I wouldn't recommend this. It is usually difficult to create any sort of tight seal between the hose and the bleeder, and doing it this way would suck in air if there was any leak. Oct 26 '11 at 19:49
  • @qes That indeed is the difficulty with doing it this way. Many people choose this option, but you've got to be good AND lucky to get it done right. :-) Oct 27 '11 at 11:58

I found this in a very old (1960's) MB Service Manual:

(it is also in every auto store chilton's guide)

" a bit trickier to truly replace all of the fluid as there is a small chance some of the old fluid mixed with new will get back in"

a small amount of old fluid won't do harm

the method does not work if you'd drained the whole system. you have to close the bleeder value when brake foot is to floor to "pump fluid toward the brakes". (if left open, it will merely suck air back in, and your system is still full of air)

for this reason you need two people OR suction at bleeder screw OR on the master cylinder

(ps, for brake bleed: older mechanics say sucking at the MC is superior and allot easier than all that per wheel fooling around: but the tool for it is harder and harder to find due to non-standard china plastic custom brake fluid resevoirs. obviously this doesn't do a brake FLUSH (to get new fluid in the caliper area - the only way is the bleeder valve - due to cost efficient but inconvenient design))

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