How to Flush Car Brake Fluid

The brake system is one of the most critical systems in any vehicle. The brake system relies on the brake fluid to allow the vehicle to stop at the right moment. The brake fluid is pumped by the brake pedal and master cylinder which operates the disc brakes.

Brake fluid attracts moisture and air can form bubbles in the system in turn causing brake fluid contamination. When this occurs, you will need to flush the brake system of your car.

This article shows you how to perform a brake flush on your vehicle. The locations of various parts may be different on your vehicle but the basic procedure will be the same.

  • Warning: Always check your owner's manual for the procedure for your exact vehicle. Brakes can fail on a vehicle if the flush is not done properly.

Part 1 of 3: Lift the vehicle and prepare to bleed the brakes

Materials Needed

Step 1: Test drive the vehicle. First, you will need to check the brake performance by taking your vehicle out for a test drive.

Pay close attention to the pedal feel as this will improve with the brake flush.

vehicle with front wheels removed and jacked up

Step 2: Lift the vehicle. Park the vehicle on a level ground and apply the parking brake.

Use wheel chocks on the rear wheels while the front wheels are being removed.

Break the lug nuts loose on each wheel but do not remove them.

Using a jack on the vehicle's lift points, raise the vehicle and place it on the jack stands.

Part 2 of 3: Bleed the brakes

brake fluid master reservoir shown

Step 1: Locate the fluid reservoir and drain it. Open the hood and locate the fluid reservoir on top of the brake fluid master cylinder.

Remove the cap of the fluid reservoir. Using the turkey baster, suck all of the old fluid out of the reservoir. This is done to push only the fresh fluid through the system.

Fill the reservoir with new brake fluid.

  • Tip: Refer to the owner’s manual of your car to find the right brake fluid for your specific vehicle.

Step 2: Remove the tires. The lugs nuts should already be loose. Remove all the lug nuts and set the tires aside.

With the tires removed, look at the brake caliper and locate the bleeder screw.

brake bleeder screw seen with arrows pointing to it

Step 3: Start to bleed the brakes. This step will require a partner.

Read the procedure in its entirety before you attempt to follow it.

Begin with the brake bleeder furthest from the master cylinder, typically the passenger rear one, unless otherwise noted in the manual. Slip the clear tubing onto the top of the bleeder screw and run it into the fluid container.

Get your helper to press the brake pedal several times and then hold it down. Ask them to hold the brake pedal down until you close the brake bleeder screw. While your partner is holding the brakes down, loosen the bleeder screw. You will see brake fluid come out and some air bubbles, if any.

bleeding the brakes

Bleed the brakes at each wheel until the fluid comes out clear and free of air bubbles. This may take several attempts to accomplish. After several attempts, check the brake fluid and refill, if needed. You will also need to check and fill the brake fluid after each corner is bled.

  • Warning: If the brake pedal is released while the bleeder screw is open this will allow air in the system. The brake bleeding procedure will need to be restarted if this occurs.

Part 3 of 3: Complete the process

Step 1: Check the pedal feel. Once all the brakes are bled and all the bleeder screws are tight, press the brake pedal several times and hold it. The pedal should stay firm as long as the pedal is pressed.

If the brake pedal sinks, there is a leak in the system somewhere that must be addressed.

Step 2: Put the wheels back on. Install the wheels back onto the vehicle. Tighten the lug nuts as much as possible keeping the vehicle raised.

Step 3: Lower the vehicle and torque the lug nuts. With the wheels installed, lower the vehicle by using the jack at each corner. Remove the jack stand at the corner and then lower it down.

Once the vehicle is fully on the ground, you will need to torque the lug nuts. Torque the lug nuts in a star pattern at each corner of the vehicle. * Note: Refer to the owner’s manual of your car to find the torque specification for your vehicle.

Step 4: Take the vehicle on a test drive. Before driving your vehicle, check and make sure that the brake pedal works properly.

Take the vehicle for a test drive and compare how the current feel of the pedal to how it felt before. The pedal should feel much more firm once the brakes are flushed.

Now that your brake system is flushed, you can rest easy knowing that the brake fluid is in good shape. Performing your own brake flush can save money and allow you to get to know your vehicle better. A brake flush will help to ensure that the brakes last a long time and will avoid any issues due to moisture in the system.

Bleeding the brakes can cause issues if it is not done properly. If you do not feel comfortable performing this service on your own, get a certified mechanic from YourMechanic to flush the brake system for you.


Next Step

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Recent Brake System Flush reviews

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32
2,376
85
18
10
32

Simon

30 years of experience
19 reviews
Simon
30 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz CLK350 V6-3.5L - Brake System Flush - Albuquerque, New Mexico
On time. Very professional. Gave car a 50 point check. Advised me on the brake pedal question I had. All excellent,!
Hyundai Sonata - Brake System Flush - Albuquerque, New Mexico
He was right on time. Professional and friendly. He advised and showed me that the brake pads did not need to be replaced yet.

Patrick

33 years of experience
1408 reviews
Patrick
33 years of experience
Nissan Versa L4-1.6L - Brake System Flush - Austin, Texas
Arrived earlier than set appt time! Very efficient still; a bit bummed out that I wasn't able to get all the expected service today-- part was incorrectly ordered for him-- but Patrick has been helpful and professional about everything.
Ford Focus - Brake System Flush - San Marcos, Texas
Always ready & he knows what he's talking about when it comes to fixing any problem that you can think of! I highly recommend if you need a reliable mechanic use Patrick!

Brandon

5 years of experience
34 reviews
Brandon
5 years of experience
Hyundai Santa Fe L4-2.4L - Brake System Flush - Nashville, Tennessee
Second time using Brandon and was enjoyed his service. I would love to use him for my next service.

Joel

11 years of experience
146 reviews
Joel
11 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata V6-3.3L - Brake System Flush - Flower Mound, Texas
Joel arrived and we discussed repairs. He informed me the intake gasket had been replaced. THE Timing gasket , did not need replacement, he determined clean cover and tighten bolts to manufactured specs. Went to fluid flushes.

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