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Brake Bleeding Tutorial, Tips and Pictures - Bleed Brakes Like You Mean It

The Hows And Whys Of Brake System Bleeding

By Robert Young

It isn't exactly common practice but most Hondas' brake fluid should be flushed-or bled-every 30,000 miles or so. It'll also need to be performed any time the system is opened, like when changing brake lines or swapping master cylinders or calipers. Generally, if only one corner of the vehicle or a single line is cracked open, it's only necessary to bleed that corner. However, if the system has been left open for more than a few minutes, it might be necessary to bleed each corner.

Brake bleeding isn't one of those glorified tasks recognized by anyone who happens to own a car, like an oil change or coolant top off. No, brake system bleeding is easy to overlook and its symptoms can be gradual, even subtle, like a sinking or soft pedal or excessive brake steer. Perhaps the reason brake system bleeding is often overlooked is because of the procedure's difficulty. You simply can't drain the master cylinder reservoir and dump in a pint of fresh fluid-this just doesn't satisfy Honda's recommendation and, if it did, we'd likely see just as many drive-through brake flush shops as we do quick lubes. The procedure lies with the entire system-not just the master cylinder-where air bubbles, even sediments, can be trapped within the fluid, impairing proper operation and ultimately how well a car can stop.

There are four ways to bleed a brake system: the most common is the two-person manual method but there's also the single-person manual, pressure, and vacuum methods. No matter which one you choose, begin by removing the master cylinder reservoir cap and strainer. Stir the reservoir fluid to allow sediment or particles to float in suspension and remove them with a turkey baster or vacuum bleeder. Use a lint-free rag to wipe down the reservoir walls and strainer of any remaining sediment and dirt. You may need to repeat this a couple of times. Refill the reservoir with fresh fluid-Honda DOT 3 brake fluid (part number 08798-9008) works well, although there are other options. It's important to note that brake fluid is a solvent and also works well as a paint remover. Clean up spills with water as quickly as possible if you value that paint job.

Bleeding Sequence
Hondas have four bleeder screws-one at each caliper or drum-but you can only do one at a time. Always start with the caliper (or drum) farthest from the master cylinder working your way back to the closest one and be sure to top off the master cylinder periodically to avoid running dry. The sequence is as follows: right rear, left rear, right front, left front.

By Robert Young
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This was very helpful, but too late for me. The master cylinder fluid dropped too low. I had a pressure bleed done but the mechanic said the master cylinder wouldn't hold pressure for the rear system because the drop in fluid damaged it. He said I need a new master cylinder. 

When replacing the master cylinder what do I need to do?  Do I install it, then fill it, then do a bleed?  Is there a bench bleeding process prior to installation?  I don't want to run into the same problem of the level being low (empty) and not being able to fill it without damaging it as happened when the fluid level dropped.

Anyone have experience or knowledge about what to do?

Honda Tuning Magazine