Top tip: How to change brake fluid

Changing Brake Fluid

Learning the basics of motor mechanics need not be a difficult prospect; many of us are keen to save money, not to mention time…and paying out for basic repairs or maintenance to be done on vehicles which already cost a lot to keep on the road, doesn’t always appeal! Some jobs are simple enough that even those with little or no experience in motor maintenance can undertake them with no problems; changing brake fluid is one of them.

Considering just how important brakes are to our safety and also that of others, it is vitally important to learn how maintain them. Various things can go wrong with brakes… your brake fluid can easily become contaminated with extra moisture which can cause the brakes to fail…or in some circumstances the brake fluid can boil which also causes failure and damage to important components.

Here’s how to start on that vital task…changing brake fluid…always remember to wear protective eyewear and gloves before starting any maintenance on your vehicle.

Equipment

  • Correct brake fluid
  • wrench for bleeder valve
  • Brake fluid bleeding kit
  • Drip pan
  • Rags
  • Hoist or appropriate car jack with wheel blocks.
  • Disposal receptacle for old brake fluid

How to change your brake fluid

It is important to check your owner’s maintenance manual for any special information or requirements for your vehicle before you begin to approach this procedure and it is useful to have another person around to assist you.

Your brake fluid bleeding kit consists of a pump and reservoir. You’ll need to locate your brake fluid master cylinder which resides conveniently under the bonnet of your car somewhere at the top on one of the two sides of your engine.

Take the cap off your brake fluid master cylinder and put the hose from your pump with attached retrieval reservoir to the lowest point in that cylinder to get the maximum of the old fluid out. Next, pump all the fluid into your retrieval reservoir, be careful to use a rag when removing the pump hose from your master cylinder so as not to spill brake fluid on you paint work and engine; also, clean the cylinder opening of any grime with a clean rag.

Pour in the brake fluid according to your maintenance manual until it reaches the full line which will be clearly marked on the brake fluid master cylinder, put the cap back on. Now you will need to bleed the brakes by putting the car up on a hoist and removing all the wheels, or jacking up each side one wheel at a time.

Once you have removed your wheel, starting at the back of the vehicle working your way towards the front last wheel, begin with the wheel closest to the brake fluid master cylinder (unless the engine is at the back of the vehicle in which case you reverse the order).

Locate the bleeder valve

Locate the bleeder valve with the help of you maintenance manual, get yourself a spanner which fits it and attach your pump to the bleeder valve; have another person pump the brake pedal and hold it down for you. Loosen the bleeder valve with wrench and begin to pump the line clear of the old brake fluid and air until you can see the clean brake fluid coming through with no air bubbles. Next, tighten the bleeder valve and top up the brake fluid master cylinder to full.

Replace the wheel and continue the same procedure for all four brakes. Now it’s time to check your brake pads and discs for wear and tear…it’s worth it while you have the wheel off!

As you can see, whilst this task isn’t a one-person job, it certainly isn’t too technical for a beginner to try…the best way to gain confidence and experience with car maintenance is to try your hand at the simpler jobs.

Remember to dispose of brake fluid safely; if you are uncertain of the procedure in your area, contact your local council who can inform you of safe disposal sites and also of how to go about it.

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