How Long Does it Take to Gravity Feed Brakes Alone?
Did you recently replace your calipers or brake lines? Then, it’s most likely that air has gotten into the braking system. With time, the air within the brake lines would give a soft feel as you step on the brake pedal. It significantly increases the stopping time for your vehicle and is a potential hazard and an avoidable inconvenience.
What Can You Do to Salvage This?
The best option is to “Gravity Bleed” your brakes. It has to do with releasing the air bubbles by controlling the tubing. This method is guaranteed to work.
In about half an hour, with expert help, you can use this method. The expert help and assistance also help to ensure the process is free of errors, and that you do not waste time trying to repeat the process.
Below is a step-by-step guide on the importance of gravity bleeding and how you can do it. To effectively carry out this process, do well to follow the steps carefully, and you’ll be glad you did.
Why It Is Important to Gravity-Bleed Brakes?
When you begin to feel an unusual softness of your pedal alongside a decline in the stopping time and power, then brake bleeding comes in handy. It would be best if you did this when you replace your calipers, brake pads and lines. It would be best if you also did this throughout the timeframe of your car’s usage.
It is quite like a blood donation, only that here, there is no pain and you expel from the braking system.
Bleeding your brakes about once in every two or three years makes it perform optimally. As you journey over time, covering lots of miles, it is normal for air to get trapped in your brake line. As you place your foot on the car’s pedal, you get an absurd spongy feel.
It is terrible news when too much air is trapped in the brake line. Your life is ultimately at risk because of your car’s potential brake failure. Air becomes a killer if it gets trapped in your brake lines, and it eventually shuts it down.
You may wonder how possible it is for air to get trapped in the braking system. The truth is, air can be sneaky sometimes. It gets into your car during a leak, or during servicing; it is also very possible for it to sneak in during the bleeding process.
For reasons that are not entirely obvious, when your brake pads wear out, air can quickly get into your braking system. So, as you bleed your brakes, the trapped air is expelled from the line, and everything gets back to normal.
In other to bleed your brakes, here are some things you will require:
- A little pair of vise grips
- Masking Tape
- A Quart of brake fluid
- Four jack stands and Automotive jack
- One empty Quartz jar
- One open-end wrench (bleed valve)
- Five feet of 3/16-inch plastic tubing
Steps to Gravity Bleeding Vehicle Brakes
- Raise the Vehicle
Make use of the automotive jack to raise your vehicle above the ground slightly. After that, place your car on the car jack stands then remove the wheels one after the other. It is important to note that the vehicle must be evenly balanced on the stands; a mistake can damage your car.
As you remove the wheels, you will get to the brake calipers. It is here that you start the gravity bleeding process. Do this using a well-structured sequence from passenger rear to driver front.
- Locate the Brake Fluid Reservoir
Try to find the brake fluid reservoir proximal to the brake calipers. In other not to damage anything, cautiously remove the caps and covers. Tighten up the caps when the bleeders begin to drip fluid. Do not proceed if you don’t have grip pliers.
The reason is that this tool is vital specifically on the M7 bleeders (smaller) which are seen on early calipers when they get stuck. Since other calipers possess large bleeders, it is essential to have vise grip pliers.
- The Plastic Tubing
Attach the plastic tubing to the bleeder of the first wheel and lift the other end above the fluid reservoir. As a matter of importance, for effective cleaning, extend the tubing to a higher level above the reservoir. It is a common practice among most vehicle owners to secure the tube, using masking tape, to the roof of the car or c-pillar.
- Release the Air Bubbles
At this point, take great caution because by making a single blunder, you could have to start all over. Using the open-end wrench, gently open the nipple of the bleeder. Then, fluid begins to begin rising in the tubing of the plastic.
It is easy to observe the air bubbles as they escape. Until it gets to the height of the car’s brake fluid reservoir, the fluid continues to rise. It usually takes about 3 to 4 minutes, so exercise patience.
With a standard hammer or mallet made of rubber, tap the brake calipers. It helps to hasten the Gravity Bleeding process and improve its effectiveness also. It makes the bubbles rise through the tubing until the air is completely expelled.
Ensure the brake fluid reservoir is topped off properly. It should be done with utmost caution and intentionality, probably by someone who is assisting you in the process.
- The Bleeder and Brake Fluid Reservoir
After the air bubbles have been fully expelled, pull off the tubing and tighten the bleeder as you hold the jar to trap the fluid. Even if it seems confusing, still be patient enough to take it step-by-step. Put the jar beneath the nipple, then use a wrench to shut the bleeder.
Next, remove the plastic tube off the bleeder. If you observe that the brake fluid in the reservoir is not at the optimal level, add some more fresh fluids. Of course, you want greater accuracy levels, so you need someone who would help with the refilling process.
During the process of bleeding, make sure you closely observe the brake fluid. As you bleed, it is important that the levels are kept full. In other to prevent more air from getting into the braking system, do not allow the level to be too low.
Peradventure that happens, you would have to start all over again. Having someone who can be of help to you as you take on this process is essential. This person would help you monitor and replenish fluid levels as you tighten the bleeders and remove the tubing.
- The Rest of The Brakes
Do the following in other to bleed your brakes. Start by topping up the reservoir’s brake fluid after each bleeding to prevent sustained low levels. It stops air from getting into the whole braking system. Put into consideration the time duration that is necessary to keep the bleeder open as you bleed (it varies).
It is proper to allow it to run until the fluid is air-bubbles free. When this is done, tighten the bleeder caps with the vise grip pliers.
- Troubleshoot and Test Drive
Lower the car and restore the wheels when you are done tightening the caps of the bleeder. The next thing is to test-drive the vehicle and apply just a little pressure on the pedal of the brake. Be observant here: A firm feel on depressing the brake pedal means the process was successful.
All is still good if the pedal of the brake retains constant pressure without going down. But if the pedal is depressed and still has the initial hard/mushy feel, it could be indicative of a defective Master Cylinder. To ensure for safety, visit the mechanic and analyze the underlying issue with the vehicle.
Ensure for proper analysis of the vehicle to find out the reason for the failure of the Master Cylinder. The persistent mushy feel may also be indicative of a leak in the braking system. It is necessary to keep or stay true to this evaluation process to make the vehicle safe for you and the road.
Since you have gained this very vital information about bleeding your vehicle brakes, it should be rocket science for you anymore. Now, you should be able to bleed your vehicle using gravity bleeding technique. Please remember that this process gets more accurate with someone who can help you in the refilling process.
Please note that although gravity bleeding is relatively easy and highly effective for bleeding brakes, it is only applicable to firewall mounted systems. In these systems, the Master Cylinder is markedly higher than the wheels’ brakes. It is impossible to benefit from the gravity bleed if your vehicle possesses an underfloor mounted street rod system.
With an underfloor mounted street rod system, opting for a bench bleeding, reverse brake bleeding or even vacuum bleeding might be the best alternative. It means that the very ease and simplicity of the gravity bleeding technique is not a generally applied technique, so know your vehicle.