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?
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:
Power bleeders work great. I use Motive's.
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.
I found this in a very old (1960's) MB Service Manual
- Attach a brake fluid resistant hose that is long enough to touch the ground to the bleeder nipple.
- 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).
- Now loosen the brake bleeder.
- As you pump the brakes, you should see bubbles and old fluid pushed into the bottle.
- 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 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))