Bleeding Your Brakes 

The two-man method


    ANY TIME you break into your vehicles hydraulic brake system, you MUST bleed the air out of the system or you're headed for trouble.  If you allow air to remain in the fluid system the brake pedal will have a mushy, or soft feel to them and you will not be able to apply sufficient pressure to your brakes in order to stop adequately.  In severe situations you won't even have brakes at all.  The general rule of thumb when it comes to brakes is: "If you don't have the time, or tools to properly bleed your brakes after opening the brake system, then DON'T OPEN YOUR BRAKE SYSTEM TO BEGIN WITH!!"  It's that simple.


1 - Box-end wrench (6 point) the right size to fit your vehicles bleeder screws.

Appropriate eye protection.

Nitrile gloves



4 - New bleeder screws (these may be needed if yours are in bad shape).




WARNING:  Brake fluid is a caustic & hazardous chemical.  Be sure to wear the appropriate eye protection.  Wear nitrile gloves to protect your hands from getting fluid on them.

NOTE:  Brake fluid is an EXCELLENT paint stripper.  DO NOT allow it to get in contact with any paint on your car.  It will remove it in short order.  If you do get some on your paint, remove it immediately

1.     Remove the dust cap from your brake reservoir and fill it to the ďfullĒ line with new brake fluid.

2.     You need to position yourself to the backside of the front wheel closest to the master cylinder.  Lay rags around the area where brake fluid will squirt to keep it from making a mess.

3.     Have your buddy sit in the driverís seat and pump the brakes until it is firm.  Once they are firm, have your friend keep pressure on the pedal.

4.     With the box end of the wrench, loosen the bleeder screw at least Ĺ turn, allowing the fluid under pressure to momentarily squirt out.  Then re-tighten the bleeder screw.  Once you loosen the bleeder screw, your friend Ďs foot will end up going to the floor.  Ensure that your friend keeps pressure on the pedal until you have closed the bleeder screw.

 WARNING:  You should only bleed each brake 3 times before you MUST stop and re-check the fluid level in the reservoir.  Running out of fluid in the brake reservoir will introduce air into your brake system.  If this happens you will need to start the entire process over again starting with the front wheels.

 NOTE:  You will notice that the fluid will spit and sputter out while there is still air in the system.  Once you get a good clear stream of clean fluid free of foam and other air pockets, it's bled.

 5.     Now repeat steps #3 & #4 as many times as necessary until the fluid coming out is free of air and other contaminants.

6.     Repeat steps #3 - #5 with each remaining wheel progressing further from the master cylinder each time.

7.     By the time you have finished the last wheel, the brake pedal should feel firm when depressed giving a positive feel.

8.     Now you will need to top-off the brake reservoir one last time and ensure the dust cap is snuggly in place.  If youíre reservoir dust cap is broken or just worn out from 30+ years of faithful service, replace it.

Take your VW for a test drive down an un-crowded street and test out the brakes, ensuring they work properly and donít pull to one side or the other.

If your vehicle pulls to one side ONLY when the brakes are applied, that can be caused by many things.  Some possible causes are, air in the system, brake fluid on the brake shoes/pads, deteriorated/clogged rubber brake hoses and the list goes on.  If you suspect a problem with your brakes, donít wait to fix it.  Get the problem diagnosed and repaired immediately like your life depended on it; BECAUSE IT DOES!!


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Revised: August 23, 2003 .