Bleeding the brakes stinks (literally), but it must be done

I’ve used all the above methods, but always use gravity bleed when time is not an issue. If I find one line not dripping, giving it some momentary urging with a vacuum pump will get the fluid flowing.

My old Thunderbird just has a plastic cap, no rubber diaphragm or gasket, so bleeding brakes is a spring ritual. i use the spouse method. I just want to point out that fresh DOT 3 fluid from a sealed container is essential due to the hygroscopic thing. Also, if anyone (helpful relative, newbie at gas station, etc.)has added a petroleum based fluid,think tranny, power steering,or any other ‘oil’, all parts with a rubber in them will need to be replaced. Master cylinder, slave cylinders, flex hoses, ABS parts on newer vehicles. If it just happened, vacuum out with a syringe or turkey baster. make sure no trace of oil is left behind. Flush system with brake fluid.

As stated earlier I use the spousal method minus the spouse. I have a mason jar mug (convenient handle built in) with a silicon tube sealed in the cap. I hang the jar by the handle above the brake. Fresh fluid in the bottom of the jar fill the master and pump till clear. Lather rinse repeat for all four corners. Works great! I’m left alone in the shop and she can use her time making my life better by dealing with kids and other household chores.

As to fluid types I was told by a very reputable import and race mechanic that DOT 5 should NEVER be mixed into a 3-4 system. If wanting to use silicone fluid it is best to start with all new components. The fluids are not comparable with each other and can cause failure due to reactions of the chemicals.?

Another handy tool for bench bleeding a master is the A1 Cardone 10-5000MCB. I sold quite a few to the shops through my 15yrs in parts sales.


I read the post and don’t believe I saw any mention of Speed Bleeder. All of my collectors cars have sported these amazing and simple devices for 5 years now and it makes bleeding brakes as easy as any system could. Two of my cars (a 65 Rolls and an 81 MB) don’t even need to be lifted to do the bleed and it’s a one person operation.

For what it’s worth here is the website: www.speedbleeder.com

Thanks westk for finally mentioning Speed Bleeders. I’ve been using them for a few years now alsoo and they make the job simple and they are very effective. At first I did over-loosen them - be careful. Soon learned a quarter of a turn is all that’s needed.I put them on all my cars for which I can get Speed Bleeders and I’m very happy with them.

Plus one for speed bleeders. Turns a multiple person job into a one person job. I have them on all my vintage cars, and it keeps my wife much happier. If you have a clutch slave that has a bleed fitting, not a speed bleeder, try replacing the fitting with a separate line up to the master cylinder. Place the removed bleed fitting in the end of the line, and you will never hat to get under the car again, as it becomes a self bleeder to the level of the fluid level in the master. Works especially well with Lotus Elans.

I just used the tried and true method of my wife pumping and me bleeding on a 1950 shoebox Ford that needed all new brakes. The method worked well as usual but is somewhat more complex in the the old Fords because the master is mounted under the drivers floor pan and only accessable through a little trap door in the carpet and a 3 inch hole in the floor with a rubber cover usually long gone. You definitely need a pan under the car to catch the fluid that misses the top of the master. the motive gadget might be nice wonder if they have a cap for a 69 year old master? thanks as always,

I use Speed Bleeders. It turns a two man operation of manually bleeding the brakes into a one man operation. The speed bleeder has a check valve that allows brake fluid to flow out of the brake caliper when the brake pedal is pushed, but the check valve in the speed bleeder prevents air from being sucked back into the caliper when the brake pedal is released. A person does not have to manually open and close the bleeder at the caliper every time the brake pedal is pushed. Get the proper size that replaces the original bleeder on the brake caliper and leave them on the car forever. When it is time to bleed the brakes a person simply opens the bleeder 1/4 turn as with any standard bleeder. Push and release the brake pedal repeatedly until the master cylinder is almost drained. At the conclusion of the bleeding process, close the speed bleeder as one would with a regular bleeder. Repeat for each wheel until done.

I have never heard of speed bleeders. Thanks for sharing!

The speed bleeder operates with a check valve. That allows the fluid to go out and precludes air from entering when the brake pedal is released. There were in the past, as I have some check valve devices that do the same thing that attach to the end of the bleed valve. That too makes a one person operation. I endorse the speed bleeders. Install them when you need to bleed the brakes and they are there for you the next time you need to bleed the brakes. That may be the second cheapest bleeding outside of the check valve attached to the bleed valve.

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Well I did this 3 times and it still doesn’t work… I’m having to bleed them because I replaced the front calipers with Wilwood. My problem is the brakes feel firm after bleeding but as soon as I start the car, no brakes - pedal to the floor when I try. The brakes worked fine before I started bleeding them. Since they worked before I started, I doubt if the master cylinder is the problem. I don’t know what else to do now. Call a tow truck to come to my house and take to a mechanic? It will be $$$$!
93 Typhoon.