Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Orillia, Ontario
If you have a friend to help you, it's a pretty easy job if you've done a tire rotation before. First, put the car on jackstands and remove all four tires. Use a turkey baster or fluid pump to get all the fluid out of the reservoir into an empty pop or water bottle. Refill with DOT3 or DOT4* brake fluid, which is yellow when new. Next, start with the wheel furthest away from the reservoir, which is the right rear wheel. There is a bleeder screw which looks like a grease zerk or nipple. Fit a box end wrench over the flats and connect a length of clear plastic tubing that you can pick up at Home Depot to it. Submerge the other end of the tube in the bottle of old fluid. I believe the front screws take a 12 mm wrench and the rear ones take 8 mm, but don't quote me on that. With a buddy in the car, open the bleeder screw and have them step on the brake. The normal procedure is to close the screw and have the friend release the brake, but I've found that with the master cylinder cap off, the buddy can keep pumping the brakes and you have a net fluid transfer out of the bleeder screw. Repeat until clear fluid appears in the tube. Refill the master cylinder with more fresh fluid, and move on to the next wheel.
The wheel sequence is right rear, left rear, right front, left front. The most important thing is not to get any air in the lines. That means watching the tubing to make sure no bubbles get sucked back through the bleeder (one reason to submerge the end in old fluid - after the initial air is pushed out you have no worries), and make sure the master cylinder does not run out of fluid. If air gets into the lines, you'll have to start all over again. Once you finish, start the car and pump the brakes a few times. If the pedal goes to the floor even after a few pumps, you likely got air in the lines.
*DOT4 has a much higher boiling point, but absorbs moisture at a slightly higher rate than DOT3. It's up to you to decide whether you want to be able to leave the fluid in for an extra year or two, or have better peace of mind that your brake system won't overheat after repeated downhill braking or similar situations.
EDIT: If the bleeder screws are rusty, don't put too much force on them. They are fairly soft and are hollow, so they will snap with too much force. Spray them down with penetrating lube like JB Blaster (WD-40 doesn't work very well) and once that soaks in, tap the wrench with a medium-sized hammer to "impact" the screw loose. In most cases after the penetrant, I find I can just smack it a few times with my palm and it will come loose.
"Speak softly and carry a pool stick."
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