3 Ways To Bleed Brake Lines By Yourself

By | January 17, 2020

If you find yourself alone after changing out brake pads or a master cylinder and have no help to bleed them, there is few ways to do it alone.

This happens to many DIY mechanics as most people disappear when its time to go to work. Luckily there are some easy options.

Here are some of the options I have used over the years. As always be sure to call a certified professional if in doubt.

3 Ways To Bleed Brake Lines By Yourself

  1. Gravity Bleeding the Brake Lines

  2. gravity-bleed-brake-lines
    I have to admit after working on cars my whole life and many DIY brake jobs I had never heard of this option until a few years ago.

    A friend of mine showed me this method and it does work although its not the best way it get the job done.

    One thing to note about this method is it takes a lot of time but does work with no help necessary and no cost for extra tools.

    To gravity bleed the lines the master cylinder cap is removed and the brake bleeder screw loosened.

    Gravity will slowly push out fluid and air bubbles in the line, slowly self bleeding them.

    Be sure to keep an eye on the fluid level in the master cylinder as it can not go empty.

    A puddle of fluid will slowly show up under the brake. After sometime close the bleeder screw and move on to the next wheel in the line.

    Again this takes time to do and each wheel can take a hour or so to get results. Most of us don’t have this kind of time to waste but it will work in a pinch.

  3. One Man Brake Bleeder Kit

  4. ways-to-bleed-brake-lines-by-yourself
    One man bleeder kits are cheap to buy or can one can be made up at home with a few items.

    Basically, a tube goes from the bleeder screw into a holding container with brake fluid and submerged.

    After it is hooked up, and bleeder screw open, the pedal can be pressed and air bubbles will escape. When the pedal is let up on, since the tube is submerged in fluid only fluid will go back in.
    If you have a tube, preferably clear one, that fits tightly on a bleeder screw, than an old jar can be used as a holder for fluid and the tube to submerge in.

    Kits are cheap to buy, usually less than $10 dollars as there is not much to them.
    Here is a DIY brake bleeder kit on Amazon
    Abn One Man Brake Bleeder Kit – Small Brake Bleeder Bottle Brake Bleeding Kit with Magnet for One Man Jobs

    This is a good option and one I like to use as a kit is very cheap and they are simple to use. The small kits can be stored away and used again when needed without needing any help.

  5. Use a Vacuum Pump Kit

  6. bleed-brake-lines-by-yourself
    There are many low-cost vacuum pump kits that let you bleed your lines quickly on your own.

    They hook to the bleeder screw and with some pumping action create a vacuum that pulls out fluid and air bubbles quickly.

    This is a nice method and possibly the fastest DIY option.

    The kits are low cost and good for those DIY mechanics who do brakes more often than every few years.
    Here is a Vacuum Pump Brake Bleeder Kit on Amazon
    8MILELAKE 21pcs Handheld Vacuum Pump Set Tester Compatible for Automotive with Adapters Brake Bleeder Test Kit

    This option would be good for those DIYers who work on multiple cars every year and need a quick do-it-yourself option.
    As with anything there is always more than one way to get things done and the above methods are simply the best ones I have found over the years.

    If you have a good way to bleed the brakes by yourself with no help than let me know in the comments.

    With any above method remember to always check the master cylinder reservoir for fluid level and keep it full, since if it goes empty the process must be started all over again.

    Also be sure to test the brakes are working good before moving the vehicle, if the pedal is soft start over until it feels right.

    It is also a good idea to leave the cap off the master cylinder so a vacuum isn’t created between the lid and the fluid.

    Most all vehicles brake bleeding is started with the farthest brake from the master cylinder, than move forward to closest. Of course, always follow the manufacture guidelines.

    As always be sure to call a professional if there is ever any doubt about doing the job yourself.



13 thoughts on “3 Ways To Bleed Brake Lines By Yourself

  1. Bill Dotson

    I replaced the rear caliper and hose on my 2014 traverse and cannot get any pedal I started with the wife operating the brake pedal and me bleeding, didn’t work. Purchased a bleeder kit from Harbor Freight have sucked at least a pint of fluid through still no brake, don’t know what to do since the fluid comes through good. I wouldn’t think the air could get to the other wheels but I even tried sucking fluid through them but to no avail, rather stuck and don’t know what is next may try the gravity flow next. Couple years ago I put all new brake lines on my 96 Dodge truck and did it by myself using a stick on the pedal, have used this method several times. Bill Dotson Thanks for the help.

  2. Goose

    The submerged tube in a jar with fluid is about the only way to bleed an old Harley! and end up with a good break!

  3. Bill Dotson

    Have been a mechanic since I did my own work back in the 60’s before I started working at the local Chevrolet Dealership, worked for other dealerships plus independent repair shop and I have never ran into this, this a new one on me and we did a lot of brakes and bled a lot, hoping to get figured out soon since the wife is wanting her wheels, Thanks again.

  4. Bill T

    I am going to replace a rear line on my 96 GMC half ton. I am going to use the vacuum method, but I will use an outboard primer bulb to suck the fluid through the line. I can pick one up at Canadian Tire for $10.00.
    It is also handy for lawn mower or other small engine oil changes.

    1. Tim Duddy

      Hi Bill,
      Have you tried bleeding the brake system with the primer bulb yet? I’ve been toying with the idea myself and your comment is the first mention on the internet i’ve found of using a primer bulb. The alternative choice of a hand operated vacuum pump seems to produce variable results.
      I would appreciate to know if you were sucessful and any tips you might have.
      Regards, Tim.

  5. Nicole

    I need help, I replaced brakes and caliper and got air in the line. I have tried gravity bleeding, and both one man options, still can’t get anything to come out the bleeder screw. I checked to make sure no issues with the lines, but there is fluid coming thru at the brake line in the back of the caliper, it’s just not filling the caliper. Any suggestions? I have been working on brakes for years and never had this much trouble?

    1. Jeffrey A Hall

      Is the bleeder valve plugged somehow? Or maybe not drilled all the way through?

    2. Charles Price

      Yes if getting fluid to caliper then not filling up try getting someone to pump brakes for you to it fills up or started to get pedal .may sometimes have to bleed line at master cylinder

    3. Johnny

      There is a right side and a left side caliper , You will never get the air out ever! they must be on the right side. just remember, the bleeder is always on top of the caliper. good luck….. Johnny

  6. Adam Gold

    A method I’ve always used is to pump the brakes the usual three times, hold the pedal down with a cinder block, then loosen the bleeder. Rinse and repeat until you get a steady stream… It takes a while and is a bit tedious with all of the getting up and going back, but it works like a charm when you don’t have any help.

    1. Inbouwkast

      Ditto, I have used this method many times over the years. Its a pain but works.

  7. brant kinnsch

    You can also purchase what they call speed bleeders. They are the bleeder screw themselves but with a check valve in them. As you depress the pedal it allows the fluid thru releasing the pressure closes the check valve.

  8. jon

    some of the above method does not work if you’d drained the whole system. you have to close the bleeder value when brake foot is to floor to “pump fluid toward the brakes”. (if left open, it will merely suck air back in, and your system is still full of air. the pedal is clearly bi-directional pushes and pulls fluid)

    for this reason you need two people OR suction at bleeder screw OR on the master cylinder if your system is completely dry (to be practical and quick – perhaps if you resevoir all for and wait for days …)

    For Brake Bleed: older mechanics say sucking at the Master Cylinder is superior and allot easier than all that per wheel fooling around: but the tool for it is harder and harder to find due to non-standard china plastic custom brake fluid resevoirs. obviously this doesn’t do a brake FLUSH (to get new fluid in the caliper area – the only way is the bleeder valve – due to cost efficient but inconvenient design))

    Obviously, dime stores are pushign these $12 8oz empty bottles and are pushing the “do every wheel” for bleeding. Again: for flushing that’s good, but for bleeding it’s totally fooling around.


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