When doing a rotor and brake pad replacement on your car, one thing always prevents it from truly being a do-it-yourself job. That’s bleeding the brakes. See, most methods require two people to bleed brakes leaving you SOL if you can’t get someone to help out.

The good news though, is you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to inform you that you can do it yourself, with a little prep work and a very important tool.

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man in blue coveralls standing in an auto repair shop doing an ok hand gesture
The Right Manual Makes DIY A Breeze

Before starting any DIY servicing on your vehicle it’s best practice to do a quick search online for what the correct methods are. When it comes to brakes it is essential to know the right technique for your vehicle. Modern cars have endless arrays of sensors that won’t allow you to change the parts without special equipment like computer software.

It’s best to have a service and repair manual that way you know exactly how the manufacturer wants you to do the job. It’s also peace of mind once you have things apart that there’s something there to guide you in putting it all back together.

My favorite repair guides are from Haynes, they have practically all makes and models new to old. Haynes has the best repair manuals with clear instructions and easy-to-follow steps.

Prerequisites

Technology is a wonderful thing that allows for great innovations in comfort and safety in cars. The one con of tech in cars is the needlessly complicated methods and procedures to do simple tasks.

Bleeding the brakes on a car used to take at most a couple of hours in a driveway when cars were all analog. Now? Without the right software, you might not even be able to get started.

More and more vehicles require software that allows you to not only bleed the brakes but change pads and rotors too. Manufacturers are designing vehicles with the intent of making them harder to service independently.

More and more cars require specialized tools to do what once was basic servicing. It’s becoming harder and harder to be a DIY mechanic without shelling out big bucks.

Parts

Make sure you have the right parts for the job you want to complete. Order everything ahead of time or purchase in the store with a checklist.

The last thing you want is to have your brakes torn apart only to realize you’re missing something. That’s why a repair manual is so important. You can walk through the entire procedure making sure you have every nut, bolt, fluid, and accessory needed to do the job completely.

Step 1- Purchase The Right Tools

In addition to all the tools you need to actually perform a brake service like caliper clamps, jack stands, floor jack, and an assortment of sockets and wrenches; there is one special tool you’ll need. This tool is called a brake fluid pressure bleeder and this is what will allow you to bleed your brakes all by yourself.

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Brake Fluid Pressure Bleeder From Autobarn.com

The brake fluid pressure bleeder attaches to your brake reservoir and creates pressure throughout the system. This eliminates the need for a second person in the car to pump the brakes like traditional brake bleeding methods.

Step 2 – Layout Replacement Parts

Do yourself a favor, and lay out the brake parts in a way that is easy for you to recognize. I find that a procedural order with tools and parts makes the most sense. Start with things you’ll need first and move on progressively.

This shouldn’t be too difficult if you do a walk-through of the job with the repair manual when purchasing parts as mentioned before. Since you’ve already gone through the job once mentally, you’ll already have a good idea of which parts and tools are needed and in what order.

Organization can go a long way in making any job go faster and smoother. I must admit when working on my own cars I can be very disorganized. This creates unnecessary wasted time as I’m looking for parts and tools splayed out all over the place.

Step 3-Lift Vehicle And Place On Jack Stands

If you’re going to be doing a lot of DIY projects with cars, I urge you to get a quality floor jack and set of jack stands. Personally, I would look for a set that can lift at least 8000 pounds but 6000 can do if you have lighter vehicles.

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Floor Jack and Stand Set From Eastwood.com

The reason you want to have a higher weight-rated set is so you future-proof yourself. Vehicles are only going to get heavier and if you’re like the rest of us, you probably own a crossover/SUV too.

With that said, you want to jack up the car and place jack stands under each corner of the vehicle. That means 4 jack stands.

Yes, you’ll have to buy more equipment, but it will make changing and bleeding the brakes so much easier with all four wheels off.

Make sure you place the jack stands on the appropriate mounting points according to your manual. When in doubt, give the vehicle a little wiggle to check if the jack stand will hold, just in case.

Step 4- Swap The Brakes and Begin The Bleeding

man checking on the brakes of a vehicle
Bleed Brakes Yourself

Once your vehicle is set up on jack stands, begin replacing the brake pads and rotors in the order you feel comfortable, or the way your manufacturer suggests, preferably the latter.

Remember proper brake pad and rotor selection is the key to improved braking, so hopefully, you chose wisely. If you’re wondering about what rotor and pad to choose, check out our article that explains the differences in the types of selection out there.

When the brake pads and rotors are done you can begin bleeding the brakes. If you have software specific to your car you can go into the brake bleed procedure and follow the instructions. It will tell you which wheel to bleed and may even actuate the abs pump eliminating the need for the bleeder too.

If you’re bleeding the brakes the old-fashioned way, start by attaching the brake fluid pressure bleeder to your brake reservoir.

Just a side note; there are different sizes for the brake reservoir cap so make sure you purchase the right one for your car otherwise you will be unable to attach the bleeder.

After it’s attached, pump the reservoir up to say 40 psi, this ensures you have significant pressure and won’t have any pressure drops before you can bleed each caliper.

Work your way around the car by starting with the farthest wheel from the brake reservoir/or abs pump whichever your manufacturer suggests.

Then move on to the second farthest, then the third, finishing with the closest wheel. Be sure to pump the fluid pressure bleeder back up to 40 psi after each wheel has been successfully bled.

Step 5- Wrapping Things Up

With all the bleeding done you can pump the brake pedal a few times to allow any of the remaining air to escape through the reservoir. The pedal should be firm now, and with that, you can cap the reservoir.

The last thing to do is throw the wheels back on, drop it on the ground and go bed in those brakes. You want to do some consistent brake passes from higher speeds with a firm press on the pedal to ensure the brake pad has an even layer of material on the rotor. This will help with brake grip and wear in the long run.

For more tips on how to make your brakes last longer check out our article here.

That’s it, you’ve successfully bled the brakes all on your own! No need for a partner. Now fix some other stuff with all the time you’ve saved!

 
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