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How To Change Brake Fluid

Your brake system is an essential part in your vehicle. One of the most vital components in the entire system is the brake fluid. This hydraulic substance helps transform force into pressure whenever you step on the brake pedal. However, brake fluid is very absorbent, which causes it to build up with lots debris that can affect braking performance over time. While every vehicle has different intervals for changing brake fluid, you should monitor it at least every two or three years. When the time comes, here are instructions for replacing brake fluid in your car.

What you'll need:

  • Brake fluid. Your owner's manual should list the type of brake fluid your vehicle uses.
  • Turkey baster. This is used to remove the old brake fluid from the master cylinder reservoir.
  • Microfiber cloth. Use this to clean fluid remnants out of the master cylinder reservoir.
  • Car jack and jack stands. Lift the car with jack and use the stands to keep it off the ground.
  • Lug wrench. This tool removes lug nuts off each wheel.
  • Adjustable wrench. Open and close the bleed valve with an adjustable wrench.
  • Empty plastic water bottle. Use this for bleeding old fluid from the brake line.
  • Clear tubing. Connect clear tubing to the bleed valve to drain old fluid into the water bottle.
  • Wood block. Place a 1-by-4 wood block under the brake pedal.
  • An assistant. Have someone depress the brake pedal as you monitor flushing.
  • Safety goggles.Wear these to prevent fluid or stray materials from getting in your eyes.

Step 1: Have your car on flat ground.

Park your vehicle on a level surface to prevent it from potentially rolling when removing the wheels.

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Step 2: Remove old brake fluid from the reservoir.

Open the hood and unscrew the cap from the master cylinder reservoir. Suck out as much of the old brake fluid as possible with a turkey baster. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe any brake fluid residue or leftovers from the reservoir.

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Step 3: Fill the reservoir with fresh brake fluid.

Pour the brake fluid into the master cylinder reservoir until it reaches the full line. The fresh fluid will help push out old brake fluid as you bleed the brake system. Screw the cap back on so the new fluid doesn't absorb any debris.

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Step 4: Unfasten the wheel's lug nuts.

Use a lug nut wrench to loosen the lug nuts on each wheel.

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Step 5: Lift the car off the ground and hold it with jack stands.

Raise the vehicle off the ground with a car jack. Place jack stands under the car and slowly lower the vehicle on stands with the car jack.

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Step 6: Remove the lug nuts and wheels.

Take the nuts off with the lug nut wrench and remove each wheel. Gather the loose lug nuts and keep them in a safe spot until reinstalling the wheels.

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Step 7: Loosen the bleed valve.

Use the adjustable wrench to unfasten the bleed valve but leave it closed.

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Step 8: Insert tubing into the bleed valve.

Once you find the brake valve, insert the clear tubing into the brake valve. Make sure the tubing is long enough to pour into the empty plastic water bottle that's in your hand or on the ground.

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Step 9: Have your assistant pump the brake pedal.

Place the 1-by-4 wood block beneath the brake pedal so it doesn't touch the floor. Have your assistant pump the brake pedal several times before holding it down.

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Step 10: Turn the bleed valve again to the left.

Loosen up the valve until you see the old brake fluid and air bubbles flowing down the tube into the bottle. Tell your helper in the car to let off the pedal once new, clear liquid starts flowing and air bubbles subside. Check the master cylinder reservoir throughout this step so it doesn't drain completely. Top the reservoir off with fresh brake fluid as it gets lower.

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Step 11: Repeat steps 7-10 on the other brake lines.

Flush out the old brake fluid on the three remaining brake lines.

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Step 12: Reinstall the wheels.

Slide each wheel back onto its respective wheel base. Tighten each lug nut with your lug wrench.

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Step 13: Remove the jack stands and lower the car.

Take out the jack stands from underneath the vehicle and lower it down slowly with the jack until the tires are on the ground.

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Step 14: Finish fastening the lug nuts.

Make sure each wheel's lug nuts are on tight.

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